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Results Oriented Thinking in Poker

Being results oriented is letting the outcome of a situation affect how you feel about it. This is instead of focusing on the efforts that lead to that outcome.

A good non-poker type example of this is anything related to safety or being safe. Take bike riding for example. You don't fall off your bike every time you go out for a ride (hopefully). So you might view this as a reason not to worry about wearing a helmet when you go out for a bike ride. This is being results oriented -- you haven't gotten hurt (yet), so you don't feel the need to put on safety gear.

Another way to view results oriented thinking is to say that you went riding one day and went off a jump and fell, falling face first onto the concrete. What's the first thing that probably comes to your mind? I should've worn a helmet. For now on, I bet that you probably think about putting on a helmet before you ride. This is also results oriented thinking.

Being Results Oriented in Poker

Being results oriented in poker is no different. You focus on the outcome of a hand or situation as opposed to what you did to get there.

There are several good examples of this.

One example is how to play aces. You'll find that many players think the strategy of open-limping aces is a bad. However, when you ask the players why, they all give you their bad beat stories. Most times they just got unlucky, getting sucked out on by some weird hand that wouldn't have been involved in the first place had they raised.

Another example would be someone who plays gutshot draws strongly. These players make their hand just enough to justify to themselves that it's worth chasing every time.

My last example is preflop hand selection. We've all done this -- fold a hand preflop and then when you see that you'd have flopped trips or quads or something, you automatically think to yourself, "I should've played that hand." Next time you decide to.

What these examples have in common is that the players in them are not thinking about the "why." Why should I limp aces preflop? Why should I play this gutshot draw? Why fold 73-suited preflop? All they're thinking of are the outcomes of similar, previous situations and letting those results affect their decisions.

It's important to ask yourself questions and know why you're doing something. This is much more important than the outcome itself. In fact, if you can come up with a good argument as to why you did something or why you will do something, then the results simply shouldn't matter.

Consequences of Being Results Oriented in Poker

There are a couple of consequences due to being results oriented in poker.

The consequence that stands out the most to me would have to be the stunted growth. As a player, you should always be striving to improve. But you won't be able to improve if you're always focused on the outcome. You could easily be doing a ton of things that aren't good and don't have long term positive expectations, but are working out for you now. When that particular strategy or play finally comes crashing down, you'll be back at square one. It's difficult to learn how to play poker optimally this way.

Another consequence that I'm sure all players deal with is a lack of confidence. It's hard not to be results oriented sometimes, especially when you're running bad. You feel as if maybe you lost your touch or that you've been lucky all along. This can also result in you changing up a strategy that may have been working to something that doesn't -- or not working nearly as well.

Overcoming Results Oriented Thinking in Poker

I don't know if it's possible to never have results oriented thoughts in poker, especially when you first start playing or during your first big downswing. But there are things you can do to work on overcoming it.

One suggestion that I would have would be to always have a reason for the actions you take. If you can come up with a good reason (to you) why you did something and can explain it, that's good enough, regardless of the outcome.

Another thought is that you should have confidence in what you're doing and why. It's not enough to be able to explain it. You could explain why wearing a helmet might be a good idea, but if you didn't believe it'd actually keep you safe you wouldn't wear it. You need to be confident that your decisions will result in long-term positive results. It'll be easy to doubt yourself if you don't.

Last, always play with the long run in mind. If you do this, it should be easy to come up with why you're doing something and believe in it. In the long run you'll make money, so it doesn't matter what happens in any one specific 'short term' situation.

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