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Pessimistic Players

by Roy Brindley |  Published: Mar 01, 2010


Tournament Poker is a strange beast. Poker’s history books are littered with one-off wonders; big tournament winners who have disappeared into obscurity.

Amusingly there is also a continuous stream of players who can boast a sizeable payday in the not too distant past and are now sighted chasing further glory in every far-flung corner of Europe and beyond. That continues until their bankroll dries up and they are forced to return to the £50 games at their local casino. It happens all too often.

But some stand the test of time, returning month-in, month-out to do battle in Europe’s biggest events. Among these players are those with outstanding corporate sponsorship deals that give them free entry into sizeable events on a freeroll basis.
WSOP Players
You would imagine, with the strain of entry fees removed, such players would hold a big advantage over those that are risking their own hard earned cash. Strangely it seems to have had the opposite effect on their game and a number of endorsed players must surely be embarrassed by the lack of noteworthy results they, and their sponsor’s thousands, have achieved.

Then we have those that enjoy the term “professional poker player” and like to associate themselves with it while blissfully ignoring the plain truth that they are independently wealthy and lose money while being able to sustain an enviable lifestyle.

That leaves the rarest of animals, those that can maintain the expenses incurred by jetting around the globe and live in hotels while recouping their entry fees and turning a profit. On a tournament playing basis, unlike the high-stakes cash players, these individuals are few and far between and they are the people we should aspire to.

Such journeyman pros are rare exceptions and competing on the circuit, you will soon appreciate that players run into form for periods of time and then run out of form for longer periods.

My personal viewpoint is that these successful episodes are related to confidence and good fortune. Good fortune? But poker is not about luck I hear you cry.

Let me explain. Bad beats, for example, create a sense of pessimism. We have all had those spells where your opponents seem to continuously hit miracle cards to win pots that were yours for the taking. Consequently your game is affected as your confidence dips.

Conversely when everything is going well — you are winning your coin-toss hands and your flush draws always fill — the optimism such good fortune induces leads to a completely different playing style.

Here’s a basic example: You are holding J-J and an aggressive player raises into you. You know that this opponent is an unpredictable type who, given a mediocre hand (such as A-10) may not relinquish it should you move all-in. With confidence abounding you would indeed put a gun to your opponents head and make the big all-in move.

However, if you are on a bad run where you seem to continuously come out second best in the classic “pair versus two over-card confrontations”, you are likely to just call and look for a flop with no ace, king, or queen on it.

With the way things are going, the flop will, of course, come king-high and you pass to a big bet. Naturally, that bet came from your opponent who missed totally with his A-10 but sensed your weakness combined with the lack of desire to get involved in a big confrontation and successfully preyed on it.

Just consider, if it were not for the pessimism, things would have been done entirely differently and instead of losing chips, you could well have doubled-up. Spade Suit