Confidence: Part 1: Champions Harness Fears And Doubts

Having confidence when you play poker won’t ensure that you’re a winning player, but when coupled with a good technical and mental game can make a tremendous difference to your win rate. Not only that, but feeling confident about your abilities will make you a happier poker player who’s willing to grind more hours. It will also have flow on effects to other parts of your mental game that will make you more tilt-proof during downswings.

This is Part 1 in my series aimed at the confidence side of one’s poker game. I actually want to start out by pointing out that a lack of confidence and a little bit of self doubt can actually be a healthy thing for you as a poker player. As long as it’s harnessed correctly and that you are able remain logical and rational when things don’t go your way.

As I was preparing to write this series of articles on confidence, I came across this news story about a player from my favourite football team. He is playing his 300th game this weekend and is in his 15th season of professional Australian Rules Football. I’ve posted an excerpt below.

Simon Black still fears failure
It is hard to believe that a genuine AFL superstar with a Brownlow Medal, Norm Smith Medal, three premiership medals, three All-Australian selections and 173 career Brownlow Medal votes would ever doubt himself. But that is what continues to push him.

“It’s the fear of not being good enough. I’m obviously not the quickest or strongest bloke out there, so I need to be 100 per cent focused every time I play otherwise I’ll get shown up,” Black said.

“I just love footy and I love trying to improve every week.

“I’m always trying to find ways to get better.

“I know I’m probably not the player I was 100 games ago but I still want to be better, I’m still trying to get to the line.

“I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been and it’s that fear of failure that is always driving me.”

Greg Davis From: The Courier-Mail. Read the full article here.

I think one characteristic of proven long-term champions in any field is that they always have enough doubt driving them to be better at what they are doing. If you fall into the mindset of believing that you are better than everyone else to a point where you stop working at improving, overconfidence is actually hurting your game. In this state we lose sight of our weaknesses, stop learning and subsequently fall behind the competition.

As poker players we need to be striving for a stable level of confidence where we are able to believe that we are winners in the games we are playing, even when our results say otherwise (due to bad variance). By getting to this point we don’t let negative thoughts questioning our decision making ability creep in and impede our processes when things start to go bad. A stable level of confidence does not imply zero doubts though.

As Simon Black proves, it’s pretty hard to fail at what you are doing if you approach it with passion, constantly try to get better at it and recognise that you have flaws and you need to work harder than people with more natural abilities than you.

So next time you’ve got doubts flowing through your mind, instead of letting them spiral out of control and winding up with confidence that is too low. Embrace those doubts and work towards something positive by trying to improve your weaknesses. And if you’re someone that has no such doubts, start to question whether you might be suffering from overconfidence, because as far as I know nobody plays poker perfectly and nobody is immune to poker’s fast paced evolution of skill bringing them back to the field.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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