How to be a Confident Poker Player

The verdict is unanimous…

In Part One of this series I asked the question:

“How Important is Confidence to Being a Winning Poker Player”

Four top pros weighed in and they all came to the same conclusion:

Confidence matters.

(If you haven’t read Part One yet check it out here)

In Part Two of this series I’m going to show you how to become a confident poker player…

…but before I can do that, we need to make sure you’re creating the right kind of confidence.

If you get this part wrong it can have disastrous results in your game.

The Two Types of Poker Confidence

The reason there is so much controversy over this topic is because there are two types of confidence you can have.

Those who say confidence is dangerous are talking about the first while those who say it is essential are talking about the second.

Both sides are technically correct, and once I make the distinction between the two it will be clear that you’ll get the best results by avoiding the first and focusing on the second.

The two types of confidence are:

Blind Confidence and Earned Confidence.

Let’s take a look at each type:

Blind Confidence: The Quickest Path to Going Broke

Critics who say confidence has no relevance in poker are quick to point out that someone who confidently plays in a game above their ability will quickly lose their bankroll.

This is absolutely true.

That’s because the level of confidence they have in their game has no anchor in reality.

Blind confidence has two main sources:

Ignorance and Results.

Think of the biggest whale in your games.

They are often a successful person with a large disposable income.

Since they’ve succeeded in every other area of their life they believe they can walk into any poker game in the world and win, even though there is literally zero evidence that this should be true.

People who are bad at an activity usually massively overestimate their skill, and that ignorance leads to a very dangerous form of blind confidence.

Another form of blind confidence is “results confidence”

Results confidence comes from winning.

This could be a player on a hot streak in cash games who feels like they just can’t lose, or they might have just shipped a huge MTT tournament and are ready to test their skills against the best in the world at the highest stakes possible.

We all know that short-term results aren’t a true representation of our skill level.

However, it’s easy to forget this when we are winning and we can easily give ourselves too much credit for a short-term hot streak or huge MTT score.

A player who gets confidence from results that exceed their skill will soon be parted from their bankroll.

It’s easy to see why this form of confidence can be dangerous. It’s essentially just a trick we play on ourselves that makes us think we are better than we really are.

The type of confidence that can take your game to the next level is something you must work for. Which is why I’ve named it…

Earned Confidence: The Key to Getting the Most From Your Abilities

There are certain steps you must take to become a successful player over the long term.

This includes

  • studying the game
  • playing with focus
  • maintaining a healthy mind and body

The better you get in each of these areas the more confident you should be in your ability to win.

Think about this:

If you had a 100% unbeatable GTO strategy how confident would you be?

The answer has to be “completely” as you would know that no matter what happened you would always play perfectly.

While you’ll likely never become that good at poker (if you do congratulations!), it’s easy to see the connection between skill level and confidence.

The more you study and the better player you become the more confidence you should have.

The more time and effort you dedicate to developing a strong mental game the more confidence you should have.

Poker isn’t a game that you can ever be “good enough” or where you can coast on past accomplishments.

Those who treat the game like a professional sport and dedicate themselves to excellence are those who earn their confidence.

The Formula for Poker Confidence

Now that you know the difference between Blind Confidence and Earned Confidence it should be clear which will lead you to more success in the game.

You probably noticed that I said improving your skill level and mental game SHOULD boost your confidence, but that’s not always true.

If you’ve read this far into this series and have ever struggled with confidence, that likely describes you.

That’s where my two part formula for poker confidence comes into play…

…so here it is:

Confidence = Skill Level + Awareness

To increase your confidence, you must increase both your skill level…

…and your ability to accurately judge that skill level in yourself and others.

We live in a time where there are nearly limitless resources for improving your technical skills at the game.

That’s not to say getting better at the game is an easy task, but it all comes down to your dedication to improvement and the decision to treat the game like it’s a professional sport.

Awareness is the ability to step outside yourself and see things for how they truly are.

Just like poker strategy, awareness is a skill that must be cultivated.

Developing that skill will allow you to avoid the pitfalls of blind confidence I discussed earlier.

The first step to developing awareness is the decision to always be honest with yourself.

The game of poker often plays tricks on our minds, and it’s easy to see things how you want to see them, and not how they really are. If you practice self-honesty you will quickly increase your awareness skills.

You can also increase awareness by getting opinions on your game from outside sources. A high-level coach is the best option, but a group of like-minded players works as well.

Meditation and hypnotherapy are excellent tools for building awareness. My Confidence Booster MP3 was specifically designed to put you in a state-of-mind where you are able to see all the reasons you have earned confidence, and give you an extra boost when you need it the most.

Putting it all Together

Being a confident poker player is all about the process of improvement, and not your results over the short-term. Losses are a part of the game, and the best players accept this while maintaining their ability to find areas where they can grow.

Focusing on the formula of Skill + Awareness = Confidence removes the uncertainty of whether you’re a good player or not, and the more skill you get in your strategic and mental games the higher your confidence can grow.

In Part Three of this series I’m going to share some detailed strategies on maintaining your confidence while on a downswing.

The three strategies I will share are simple techniques for reinforcing what we learned here.

See you tomorrow!

About the Author Elliot Roe

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Bogdan says August 25, 2016

Hey! Great explanations and guidelines.

Why do you think we are deluding ourselves into thinking we are better then we are? Whats the root cause / perceived benefit of it? Like you said: “The game of poker often plays tricks on our minds, and it’s easy to see things how you want to see them, and not how they really are.”

Do you have any upcoming articles on how to treat it like a professional athlete?

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