Changing Your Mind

There is nothing wrong with changing your mind.  Your opinions are constantly shifting based on new information and a change in the status quo.  A month ago, 20 minutes felt like a long time to wait for gas for your car.  3 weeks ago, it felt like a short time.  Now it’s back to feeling like a long time.  The one thing that remained constant is that you waited 20 minutes for gas and all that changed is your opinion about how long 20 minutes was.  That time could have used to call a friend you hadn’t spoken to in a while no matter whether it felt long or short.

The point is that your preconceived view of this situation (and others) can cause you to make poorer decisions than if you evaluated it without bias.  People’s decisions about how to spend the 20 minutes would vary considerably based on whether or not they felt it was a long time or a short time.  That seems silly to me.  There is nothing wrong with being annoyed that the outcome is not as you would have liked, but at a certain point, you have to step back, evaluate your options and take the best one irrespective of the preceding events.

In poker, you continually get new information and it is necessary to change your opinion about the relative strength of your hand and how much it is worth.  One of the best poker players to play against is someone who looks only at the strength of his own hand, and is oblivious to the actions of the other players.  For example, certain people will never fold pocket aces after the flop, no matter what the board or how much raising occurs.  They are stuck on the first piece of information they have(I have a strong hand!) without taking in other information like the board, the other players and the betting.  It is important to independently evaluate the action and to come to a solid conclusion and to leave your preconceived notions out of it.

Here is a great example that occurred when I was playing in a $5/$10 NL game during the Borgata Fall Open:

A bad player who was playing passively preflop and calling a lot of bets on the flop(I had seen him call with a gutshot once, and another time with just one overcard) called and the button raised preflop to $60.  The big blind called and the bad player called.

The pot was $200 and the flop came AsJdJc.  Both players checked and the button bet $140.  The big blind folded and the bad player called and said, “I check the turn without seeing it.”  From my live experience, this means he virtually never has a Jack and often has an ace.  This is very important information that he gave away unnecessarily by talking in the middle of the hand.

The turn is the 4h and both players check.

The river is the Ts and the bad player fires out $600(which is a very big bet to him and in this game) into the $440 pot.  How does this change things?  Well, the bad player is not the type to make such a large bet without a straight or better (I think it is unlikely he would do this with something like KJ).  That means that an overwhelming amount of the time, he has KQ for a straight with the occasional slowplayed full house on the flop.   When I was thinking about the hand as it was going on, he could have had a lot of hands such as any Ax, KQ, KT, QT and any pocket pair.  However, the information of him betting so large on the river narrows it down considerably so that ANY hand that the button has that does not beat a straight should be folded.

If the button was slowplaying 3 Jacks by checking the turn or has AK, he should be folding because of the information given to him by his opponent(the speech after the flop action and the river bet).  What happened, of course, is that the button ignored the additional information, thought for a while, showed a Jack and said, “how can I fold this?” and called.  The bad player showed KQ and won the pot.  The button said to me, “I had such a strong hand and I don’t get them so often, so I had to call.”  I nodded in agreement, noted what had occurred and got ready to play the next hand.

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