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Mind Over Poker - A Lesson From the Better Business Bureau

by David Apostolico |  Published: Feb 18, 2011


I recently came across an interesting statistic put out by the Better Business Bureau. It estimates that for every 100 people harmed, only four do anything about it. That’s an astonishing fact if you think about it. Only 4 percent of the population is willing to stand up for themselves. Now, my guess is, that number is exaggerated. I’m sure that there are numerous cases of it just not being worth the time or aggravation to do anything about an aggrieved situation. But even when taking that into account, there’s no getting around the unmistakable lesson from this statistic: The great majority of people avoid conflict.
People would rather be harmed than face conflict. So, how do we use this in the poker room? We can use it in two big ways. First and foremost, we need to ask ourselves honestly if we are among the large percentage of folks who avoid conflict. If so, does that bleed over into the poker room. Do we back down from aggressive opponents? Be honest. Poker is a nuanced game. There is a fine line between sticking up for yourself and being a calling station. However, if you consistently avoid conflict, you are going to be a losing player overall.
Next, we need to understand how we can use this fact to our advantage. If folks like to avoid conflict, give them something to avoid. Be aggressive. Exert pressure on those opponents who seem to fit the mold of the majority at large.
I’ll give an example from my own personal game. After coming across that statistic from the Better Business Bureau, I’ve been able to plug a leak in my game that was costing me chips. I believe that I’m fairly good at exerting pressure, but there are times when I’ll let up a bit so that it doesn’t appear that I’m going to be 100 percent aggressive in certain situations. For instance, if I always put pressure on the blinds when I have the button, sooner or later, that may catch up with me. While that is probably a true statement, there is no need for me to let up if I am up against passive players in the blinds. If they are people who avoid conflict, it is going to take a lot for them to stand up for themselves. Most likely, it will be good cards rather than a newfound spine. Since I can’t guess when they will get good cards, I should put on the pressure when given the opportunity. I’ve been doing that more lately with overall success.
The poker table is the one arena where it is always worth the time and effort to stand up for yourself. If you are afraid of conflict, fix it before you sit down at the felt. ♠

David Apostolico is the author of several poker-strategy books, including Tournament Poker and The Art of War, and Compete, Play, Win: Finding Your Best Competitive Self. You can contact him at