Confidence or arrogance

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!)


5 Responses to Confidence or arrogance

  1. svcmgr says:

    Excellent point Gopher!
    This happen to me last night with 4 other people watching.
    Had a guy at the table we all labeled as a Monkey.
    I was doing my due dilligence watching him play. He would chase hands, bluff at flushes, etc. and a lot of times he got caught.
    I got caught in a hand where my confidence turned into over-confidence/arrogance because I just didn’t put him on a hand when I should have. In that hand he had a J 9 which gave him a FH against my A high flush.
    Sometimes you just have to stop and realize even Monkeys get good hands now and then. Don’t let your confidence in your own ability cloud your judgement.

  2. Blagger says:

    At the same time Dave you do have to play/bet your hands. Nut flush hand and almost impossible task to put that particular monkey on a stupid luck hand. I don’t think you were “lost in the hand” or arrogant at that point. You didn’t lose your tournament life on that hand did you?

    Becoming over-confident is something I try to keep reigned in and am hopefully aware of on the table, like in the video I made I was acutely aware when watching it back over, that there were times I was bordering on over-confidence.

    Like you state Gordon, by all means enter every game busting with self-confidence but constantly monitor that self belief. Especially when you take down a couple of good pots due to your poker skills, rather than luck!

    That is when I am most vulnerable (and probably many others too), I have a weak hand but put the other players on certain hands and I play the players not the cards and I call it spot on and win the pot. Maybe do it again a hand or two later and my self confidence is starting to move up to that line in the sand, labelled arrogance.

    It is too easy to fall into the trap of ‘false security’, when things are all working out to plan.

    The ability to be able lay your cards down even though heavily commited to the pot is a discipline well worth learning and employing, even though it really grates the wrong way when yah have to do it.

  3. dagopher says:

    I can’t really comment on your hand Dave as I never witnessed your game at all. Sometimes, as Blags says, the monkey will land lucky.

    Blags, your last paragraph basically sums it up in a nutshell. You MUST be prepared to laydown a good hand if you have a strong feeling you are beat. Yes you want to smack your head off a wall, but if you get to see the other guys holdings its the complete opposite. You feel elated because you got your read right and made the correct decision.

    We have to remember that poker is NOT about winning at all costs. It is about making the correct decisions at the right time. By doing this you WILL win more than you will lose.

  4. netsson says:

    Brilliant post Gofer

    The hardest thing ever to do is to know when to fold a great hand!
    To trust your instincts in reading the other players hand when caught up in your own (what you think is the best) but the signs where there you’re beat!
    I do have the problem with overconfidence or become arrogant when hitting sometimes especially pocket kings or queens and someone calls my raise! The thought of oboy a real monkey, fish or chaser pops up in my head when he/she might just have hitted a better hand than me! But that’s pokerpsychology on high level that little thing of stop and reconsider what they might have!
    Dave that’s not arrogance just a bad beat not to fold the nut flush if he didn’t had it written on his forehead “i’ve got a boat” Rofl! I really don’t know anyone who would have folded that hand but as Blagger says it we didn’t see that hand if there were any signs or tells of what he had!

    My biggest problem sometimes is that I do fold even the best hand just cause I can’t put the other player on a hand that’s worse than mine the opposite of overconfident. overanalyzing my hand and doubting it’s the best and then in retrospect I’d won if I stayed!

  5. dagopher says:

    Folding the best hand is a real pain, especially if you’ve maybe been bluffed off a pot, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. A lot of the time, you will have gathered all the information going and it all might have pointed to you being beat. Sometimes it IS better to fold your hand if you feel this way. You will get other chances. You will be outplayed at times. You just have to weigh up the risks and take the sensible actions.

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