How to Think Like a Poker Pro (and why it’s important in decision making).

How to Think Like a Poker Pro (and why it’s important in decision making).

Why is learning how to think like a poker pro important in the first place?

Poker professionals are very analytical.

They evaluate situations logically and most importantly, separate the facts from the noise.

They do two things extremely well:

1) They go deep into analysis.
2) They think independently of the results.

Just because I got caught bluffing, doesn’t necessarily mean it was a mistake. If for example, our opponent folds 80% of the time, then surely it’s a great opportunity to bluff.

Which means that before making the play, bluffing is the correct decision.
Things get confusing when the play doesn’t work.

Was it a mistake to bluff?

Of course not. Just because you got caught (meaning it was one of the unlikely 20% times), the play is still correct.


Because your expectation in making the play is fixed, and it is not influenced or altered by the results.

The ability to separate the result from the expectation is the very essence of what it means to be a successful poker player.
And that ability is crucial.

How else could a poker player maintain confidence and play well during the inevitable downswings?

In the real world however, situations aren’t always evaluated objectively.

Sports are a great example of a world that is incredibly biased by the results. Rarely do you see commentators evaluating decision making.
‘Well, he made the shot so you have to give him credit,” is a much more common line than “he took a terrible, low expectation shot and got lucky to make it.”

It’s equally rare for coaches (and especially plans) to punish players for poor decision making. Too often they praise outcomes.

The court system is another outcome based industry.

If someone shoots a bullet with intent to kill another human being (but misses), they are punished with an entirely different crime than had they actually shot and killed someone.

It begs the question, does the accuracy of the shooter really change his crime? Shouldn’t he be punished regardless of the end result? (since, in the end, the likelihood he was going to kill someone at the moment he committed the crime is what we are punishing)

Why does this all matter? Because basing one’s opinion on results is dangerous.

Results oriented thinking (formulating one’s opinion based on outcome) neglects the decision making process (which ultimately increases one’s desired outcome).
It rewards people based on outcome, which is often and largely related to luck.

The most trivial example in poker is winning a tournament. The results oriented assumption is that the winner is the best player.
But everyone with a rudimentary understanding of luck knows that it’s not always the case.

To better illustrate my point, I share an example from one of the greatest sporting events of all time, the 2015 SuperBowl.

It talks about game theory and the strategy behind the crucial interception which cost Seattle the game.
Click below and see for yourself how to think like a poker pro and why it’s important to making decisions and formulating opinion.

What did you guys think? Was Pete Carroll a fool for throwing the ball? What would you have thought if they completed the pass and scored a touchdown?

Share your thoughts in a comment below.


P.S. Want to be featured in future episodes? Have questions about poker or life?
Write to me with questions and I’ll answer them in a video!

P.P.S. Still think I’m crazy? Check out the eloquent analysis from a game theorist in the New York Times who defends me!

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