Feelings V2

I got it bad for you, girl,
But I don’t need a cure.
I’ll just stay a addicted
and hope I can endure!

– Hooked on a Feeling, B.J. Thomas

How many times have you stood before a slot machine, bought a lottery ticket, even tried to pick up someone, thinking, “I have a good feeling about this?” Played basketball, heaving the ball for no reason at all about 8 ft. behind the 3-point line? Held a dauber suspended over a particular number on the bingo card?

‘I have a bad feeling about this…’

–      About two dozen characters in Star Wars

Far too many times than we’d care to remember, when it comes to sports, and particularly games of chance, there is always a moment when we simply throw caution to the wind (ignoring the fact that wind can turn in our face with a slap, in an instant), go “I’ve got a feeling,” and play slot machines or poker games that they are not familiar enough with.

If you play poker, sooner or later you’ll discover that there will be plenty of instances where you will think, “I have a really great feeling about this hand!” The fact that you may hold Ace-rags or trap hands probably won’t dampen you’re enthusiasm, though it should. But a small voice will try to nudge you, “ah, what’s the worst that could happen…?”

A frequent occurrence at poker tables: someone makes a ridiculous call to suck out for a big pot, proclaiming, “I had a feeling.” Yeah, right.

Many times in poker, you’ll be holding nothing, and it’s blatantly obvious that the other player has a big hand. It is now a huge mistake to put any more money into this pot, but you manage to convince yourself that “Maybe they had a flush draw too, so he’d have to fold if I put out a big bet here.”

This is, like, totally, not a read; you have no reason to believe that this is true. In fact, you have many reasons to believe it’s completely untrue. When you play on a hope, inflated perhaps by a series of bad beats or a notion that “I’ve lost such-and-such in a row, it’s gotta be my time now” you’re almost certainly giving your money away. On the other hand, you could be riding a winning streak where you think, “ah, I got this one lock, stock and barrel.” The only barrel you’ll need is to bury yourself in when your full house gets beat by four of a kind. It’s the inflated hope or euphoria that distracts you from small tells, playing close attention to the game as you normally would.

“There’s no crying in baseball…!”

–      Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

You can make a dozen great reads in poker and have it all thrown out the window by acting on one “feeling.” To be a successful long-term poker player, you need to remove hope out of the equation. When you reach the river with quad aces, you can hope your opponent doesn’t have a royal flush (highly unlikely); but the fact is you shouldn’t play your way to river on hope.

The only way to fully remove all hopes is to truly not care whether you win or lose the current pot. Of course you care if you win or lose – who doesn’t – but in order to not let your emotions get the better of you (in the poker vernacular, ‘going on tilt’) you must act as if you don’t care.

There is a legend that the great baseball player Babe Ruth once predicted that he was going to hit a home run. Sure enough, he did. It may or may not be true, but the tale itself has resonated for decades. On the other hand, how many times would you jab a finger at the pot and proclaim, ‘the next card will make me invincible?’

So remember…

“Feelings?”

That belongs in kitschy romantic films and things that include flowers, chocolates and phrases like, “you make me feel so…” “I think I need a tissue…” or “This is just overwhelming” etc. etc.
Feelings in games?

When you win.

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