Confidence is a necessary part of a poker player's tool kit

The 2002 World Series of Poker in progress.
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Confidence is a necessary part of a poker player’s tool kit and the lack of confidence can be devastating.  I have been wanting to play in a large payout tourney for some time now. I have had some success at smaller MTT’s, multi-table tourneys, and wanted to take a crack at a larger tourney. The tourneys that I have won at recently have had 45 people or less and the one that I was considering playing in was the Sunday PokerStars Tourneys.

These tourneys are run every Sunday and there are at least three major No Limit Hold ‘Em tourneys with guaranteed payouts of $1,000,000, $750,000, $250,000. Of course you don’t get to win the whole amount, just a percentage,  anywhere from 6 to 25 percent of the top prize goes to the first place finisher. The percentages vary with the number of players registered for the game. Details are on the PokerStars web site. Most of these tourneys have more than 10,000 players registered on them.

The tourney I decided that I wanted to play in was the “Sunday 1/4 Million” played at 3:30 pm EST. I had won my entry fee of $11.00 through a satellite that cost 210 Frequent Player Points which I had accumulated as the result of playing in cash games and other Sit N Go tourneys. Prior to registering for this event, I noticed that the number of players enrolled had reached over 22,000. This started to cause me some concern. I have played in about a dozen of these larger tourneys before and have done poorly in them. I was concerned about what my approach would be to out lasting over 22,000 players.

This was when I developed a lack of confidence in myself. I was torn between playing in this tourney or another one that had only 1,500 registered players. In the end, I decided to go with my original plan and play in the Sunday 1/4 Million Tourney.  My lack of confidence in my ability enabled me to play very badly, making poor playing decisions on the table I was assigned and within 22 minutes I was out of the tourney. I finished in 24,093rd place out of 27,540 other players. Only the top 4,500 players won prizes.  Below are the top five finishers.

PokerStars Tournament #157110461, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00/$1.00
27540 players
Total Prize Pool: $275400.00
Tournament started 2009/04/26 15:30:00 ET
Tournament finished 2009/04/27 0:31:18 ET
  1: ImTheDubs (North Port), $24786.01 (9%)
  2: horryclutch (valley village), $17047.27 (6.19%)
  3: IndianKobra (München), $12393.01 (4.50%)
  4: otnorot66 (toronto), $9639.01 (3.50%)
  5: ram55443322 (Barcelona), $6885.01 (2.50%)

My lack of confidence came at a bad time for me, but had I read my son’s blog, I might have changed my approach to the game. On that very same day, Chris Brogan wrote a blog entitled “Confidence and The Next Move” that contained many great ideas that would have motivated me to play up to my ability. In my next attempt at a large, my plan will be to play it hand by hand, table by table as I have in the past.

Have you every played in a tourney or game and felt a lack of confidence in your ability to play at that table or tourney? How did you go about turning this around? What helps you to build up your confidence?

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5 thoughts on “Confidence is a necessary part of a poker player's tool kit

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  3. I've been struggling with confidence a LOT lately. If I get my cards in good, I just have a feeling that it'll end badly. I've been hesitant to pull the trigger and make calls with small pocket pairs, and marginal hands like AQ or AJ just because I see them lose so often to J-6 and the like. I would consider it to just be a real rut.I'm not really sure how to shake it either. I mean, unless I get into a tournament where my cards are running really hot, I've been failing. I'm not really sure the real reasons why. But I'm not giving it up. It's that feeling that the very next hand, I might get dealt Aces that keeps me going. One more double up and I'll be healthy. One good tourney cash, and I'll have the bankroll that I'm looking for. That's the game though. Very “carrot on a stick.” And the “Moneymaker effect” has led us all as players believe that it's possible, to turn $40 in to $2.5 million. It's gambling. No different than Blackjack, Slots, roulette or craps. It's a game of skill for sure, but it's also a game of chance. A game of luck. You need to get lucky, but the GREAT players know what to do with that luck, and how to turn it in to large pots in their favor. This is what I'd hope to focus on learning how to do more effectively and more regularly.

    • Paul, thanks for your comments. I also am having a tough time trying to decide if my play is poor or my decision making bad. I have noticed that if I hurry my decisions and don't vocalize my thoughts, I play very poorly. Trying doing that in a live game. Although, come to think of it, Daniel Negreanu does just that. Good luck at the tables.

  4. Paul, thanks for your comments. I also am having a tough time trying to decide if my play is poor or my decision making bad. I have noticed that if I hurry my decisions and don't vocalize my thoughts, I play very poorly. Trying doing that in a live game. Although, come to think of it, Daniel Negreanu does just that. Good luck at the tables.

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