Part 9 : Mind Over Matter

My previous columns have covered aspects of your physical and mental performance that can have a direct effect on your poker game. While this column will be pertinent and helpful, it will be slightly different in that it’s going to help you understand your mind — and above all — your potential. In the minds of many sports psychologists, an athlete’s potential all stems from one factor:

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

This theory has been around for quite a while in various ways, and I personally feel that many aspects of improvement start with the self fulfilling prophecy – as do many aspects of lack of improvement. So what is it?

At its core, the self-fulfilling prophecy theory states that the positive or negative expectations that you have about yourself, your circumstances, your potential, or your abilities directly affect reality. What happens is when you hold a belief about yourself, whether it’s imposed by yourself or others, you (either knowingly or unknowingly) create scenarios in which that belief holds true. Eventually, it becomes entirely true.

Your own self-fulfilling prophecy in the past has pretty much defined who you are right now. In addition, your self-fulfilling prophecy will invariably determine who you become in the future.

The Good News

While many people have unknowingly created their own self-fulfilling prophecies that hold them back, knowing that this theory generally holds true allows you to use it to your advantage. How?

Here are a few examples:

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Scared money never wins”? This is self-fulfilling prophecy at work. Essentially, when you falsely believe that any action you take at the poker table — whether +EV or -EV —will result in failure or loss of money, your fear of such failure will influence your actions in such a way that will make it more likely that failure or loss of money will actually occur. This commonly happens when poker players “run bad” and is a reason why running bad so often is accompanied by bad play.

On the other hand, if you believe that the actions you take at the poker table will result in success, your confidence will influence your actions in such a way so as to make it more likely that success will occur. You’ll be more likely to go with your reads, to take small edges that will be +EV in the long run, and you won’t second-guess yourself to death.

Put a little more simply, if you believe that you’re truly on track to achieve greatness, you’ll be much more likely to do so. If you believe you “suck at poker,” that you“can’t win,” or that so-and-so is “just way better than you could ever be,” then it’s likely that you won’t improve nearly as much as you otherwise would. Why do you think that is?

Belief influences action. Good or bad, right or wrong, this generally holds true to a certain extent. Of course there are other factors at work, such as the ones covered in the first eight Poker As A Sport columns — but at the end of the day remember one thing: Success always begins in your mind.

Belief influences action. Good or bad, right or wrong, this generally holds true to a certain extent. Of course there are other factors at work, such as the ones covered in the first eight Poker As A Sport columns — but at the end of the day remember one thing: Success always begins in your mind.

If you’re looking for more ways to help you improve your performance at the poker table, check out my book, Peak Performance Poker.

Comments
May 2011