I'm a freelance writer and serious lower stakes poker player. I'm fascinated by poker's complex strategy as well as the psychology involved in this game of short-term luck and long-term certainties. Contact: onlinepokerdiary (at) gmail (dot) com

Home Game Report

I haven't had many opportunities to sit down for a home poker game recently, so when my roommate and a few friends were getting a game together yesterday, I gladly joined in. Little did I know, the game would end up teaching me an interesting lesson.

I’ve always thought about what it would be like to play ring games without thinking at all about the money. That is, if my only goal is to amass as many chips as I can, instead of focusing on winning twenty of fifty dollars, I figure I would make much better and rational decisions.

Turns out, this is exactly what happened to me in this game. When I joined in, the guy who brought the chips handed me my stack and said how much it was worth in total, but then told me the chips themselves would be worth 1, 2 and 5. Although this seemed rather odd to me, I guess those guys usually play this way and wait until the game is over to calculate who is up and who is down.

After a few rounds, I had no idea if I was up or down, and decided to just focus on playing good poker.

I’ve found that I sometimes get much more conservative when I have a small win going, and if I have a big stack, I tend to play looser and make more aggressive moves. Now of course, I don't do this consciously, but nevertheless, it happens.

Yesterday, however, I wasn't thinking about wins, losses or any dollar signs; just trying to get as many chips as I could. And I was able to make much better long-term decisions, instead of being affected by results-oriented thinking for the session.

When the game was over, I was happy to see that this philosophy worked out. I thought I was only up by a few dollars, but when I cashed out, I was happy to see I had almost doubled my buy-in.

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