I caught a wee snippet while reading pokerplayer magazine the other day. All it said was to watch what you were doing at the table and don’t turn confidence into arrogance. So today, I’m going to give a simple example of this.
I have advocated in past posts that you should approach any game of poker with self confidence. If you know you can mix it with the best of them then you would surely do this anyway. But at what point can this confidence turn into arrogance?
Lets go for an example. Say you are playing a $5 sit and go tournament. You know within yourself that you are more than capable of beating ALL the players at the table. So the game kicks off and you are doing your usual stuff…. folding mediocre hands, watching how the others are playing and puting a mark on them. All very well. One particular player you have been watching has been calling raises to the river and most of the time he has the best hand. Now if you had been watching him you would have put him down as a calling station. Fair enough. But have you noted if he has been chasing or has he hit big on the flop or has he started out with a premium hand? Does he always just call while holding a monster? Its all very well getting a hold on a players style but how many of us actually bother to mark down specific details? And furthermore, how many use these notes to their advantage?
Where confidence turns to arrogance is when you get involved in a hand with someone like the calling station above, and you have maybe hit top pair. But you have a mediocre kicker though. You are first to act. Depending on how many are in the hand you might raise the pot. You have after all got top pair. Now what do you do if the calling station calls your bet?
Turn shows a rag.
The confident player might just put out a feeler bet at this point. If it’s called then they would know the calling station quite possibly is in front. They have almost certainly hit something on the flop. Now when I say ‘confident player’, I mean one who has watched this guy and taken good notes. One who is confident enough to know he could be in trouble. Confident in themselves to know they might have to fold!
The arrogant player though, might think to himself that he will try and push the calling station off the pot. The arrogant part of it all is not that they think they are winning, more the fact that they think they can push the other guy off his hand – winning or not. Too arrogant to think about what the other player could be holding. Too arrogant to put his notes to use. A very dangerous ploy against a calling station!
Just because you have classed a player as loose, a calling station or whatever, doesn’t mean they will play a certain hand the way you would play it. In the example above you, say you were holding K 10 and the board shows K 4 2 rainbow. This calling station has called your raise on the flop. What should you be thinking? Is it, “I HAVE the best hand here!”, or is it, “Could this guy have me beat?”. In reality you should be thinking “DO I have the best hand?” AND “Could this guy have me beat?” A subtle difference in the questioning, but ultimately a critical difference.
We’ll now say that a 7 comes on the turn. This is where you cannot get above yourself. You put out an information bet (and never put out just a single bet – pot odds usually dictate an immediate call, especially if your raise on the flop was called). If your bet is called, then you must start to think your opponent could very likely be ahead.
This is the time arrogance can take over. I’ve seen so many players decide that their next move will be all-in. They think that they WILL force the other guy out. And guess what…. Mr calling station turns over pocket aces or AK or even a lowly pair of 4’s. The signs were there that you COULD be behind, but your arrogance in thinking you can push this guy off the hand takes over. Basically, you are only looking at your own hand and not really thinking about what Mr calling station could be holding.
Some people would call this stupidity, but in reality it is arrogance. Arrogant to think that you know better. Arrogant to think you are the best player and should win. Even the best players run into monster hands, but more often than not they will know when to slow down or even fold. Remember, you only ever hold the best hand when you are holding the NUTS.
So, remember these points
- Always go into a game with confidence in your own ability.
- NEVER be arrogant enough to think you just need to turn up and win a game.
- Assess the players at the table. You can only do this by watching ALL the hands played. Even better when there’s a showdown so you can see peoples holdings.
- USE the information you compile from the players.
- Do not underestimate your opponents. Doing this is sure to come back and bite you.
- Keep your concentration. Keep analysing ALL of the play throughout a hand and act accordingly. Don’t let your arrogance kick in and then do something stupid.
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance at the poker table. It can turn from one to the other in an instant. And before you know it you will be caught, with the possibility of having to leave the table with your tail between your legs.
Concentration is the key. Constantly assessing what’s going on at the table, whether in a hand or not will help to keep any arrogance to a minimum. In fact, by doing this you will more than likely increase confidence in your ability to make the correct decisions!
As usual, comments are most welcome….. (I would really love to see some!)