When we think of habits what first come to mind are physical actions: brushing our teeth, writing in our journal, going to the gym… or perhaps eating a bag of Cheetos, checking email, mindlessly surfing the internet(!) Yet we all have a far wider set of mental habits- thought patterns which we revert to either under conditions of stress or simply as our daily default mental states. In fact our physical habits are themselves grounded in these habits of thinking.
It should come as no surprise then, that in a game where we make thousands of decisions an hour, we soon develop patterns of thinking that help us automate decision-making. These patterns of thinking manifest themselves in patterns of our play at the table. They become our poker habits.
One of the greatest gifts of poker is that it rewards sincere introspection. To make any progress in your game you must first become aware of the reasoning behind your decisions. This is often an uncomfortable process, since chains of reasoning which once seemed secure are found to have weak links. A ‘standard’ betting line appears, upon closer inspection, as simply a bad habit. (more…)