If you’ve ever played a tight game of cards, you’ll know that technical skill isn’t enough in gaming. No matter how perfect your strategy is, if you lose your cool, you’ll make mistakes. Games that demand luck and skill require a generous dose of self-awareness. An aggressive table or a series of fantastic hands have a way of bringing out your worst habits and personal weaknesses. Does pressure make you arrogant? You’ll need to control it, or you’ll quickly find yourself on the wrong side of a losing hand. Do you anger easily? Then an aggressive player will obliterate your game in 10 seconds flat. Do you lose your head? Then a few losing hands will send you straight into full tilt.
Dump Your Superstitions
Most card players have a favorite hand: Those mediocre cards that once won them a massive pot and which they̵
Dump Your Selection Bias
Selection bias is a systematic thought error built out of unrandomized data. If you’ve ever gone full tilt, you’ll understand how powerful selection bias can be. It convinces you to adopt false beliefs without rational basis, and so you suffer a few bad bets and become convinced that your future at your table is doomed. The rational truth is that every round is as random as the one before, even if you have lost several in a row. Begin every round as though it’s your first, and you’ll find it much easier to avoid tilting.
Always Have a Reason
A gifted card player never does anything without reason. They might shift beyond their usual strategies, but they never do so unless there’s a clear purpose behind it. It’s easy to get lost in the noise of a game and make baseless decisions in your rush to keep up, so take your time. This isn’t a race. Initially, conscious, purposeful playing will probably take a lot of time, but once you’ve done it for several games, you’ll make those choices in no time, having learned the lessons the game has to teach you.
Stop Fearing Failure
The best poker players know when to fold and when to play. The best baccarat players know when to make the banker bet. The best blackjack players avoid insurance wagers. They all have one thing in common: they play to the odds, and not the emotions that come with them. Fear is not your friend, and nor is failure. If you plan for losses right from the start, you’ll keep your head and manage to make rational choices based on the numbers and not the emotions. The same applies to facing strong players. Intimidation kills your game by overwhelming your logical thoughts. The cooler your head, the better your game.
Stop Thinking in Terms of Progress
We’ve all been there. You’ve drawn high-valued cards and racked up several wins in a row, so now you feel dauntless. Nobody can shake your position, or so you think. Pride, as the cliché goes, comes before a fall. A series of wins is not a guarantee of more wins, and the same applies to losses. You’re never “due” a win, even if you’ve been losing for the last two hours, so don’t play as though there are guarantees. Always make decisions according to your cards, and not according to the last 10 minutes.
You’ve waited an hour for an upswing, and it still hasn’t come. What do you do? Play as though you have a great hand or keep waiting for those cards? Baccarat can deliver grand losses to impatient players, and blackjack requires even longer rides that have a way of making players greedy, but stay patient or you will feel the repercussions on your bankroll.
Any betting game is demanding on your character. It’ll play on your greed, make you over-confident, or have you running in fear. No matter how technically adept you are, if you can’t master your character, you’ll never master your game. Cards are the perfect opportunity to practice some self-evaluation, and in the end, the chips will follow.