Poker player motives

This blog will talk about players’ styles among other things related to gambling. The primary topics of interest that we have are poker strategy and poker psychology.

There is a strong relationship between players’ styles and players’ motives. If you know how someone plays, you also know a good deal about why he plays (and vice versa). In addition, players with extreme styles are so dominated by their primary motives that they are rigid and predictable. They act in a certain way even when it is self-defeating.

For example, maniacs are so addicted to action that they cannot keep themselves from jacking it up, even when a little voice in them says, “Slow down.” Calling stations have such a strong need to get along with others and such a strong aversion to acting aggressively that they just call, call, call, even when they know they should raise or fold. Rocks are so conservative and timid that they let aggressive players run over them.

However, many extreme players have selective memories or kid themselves about why they play the way they do. They essentially make excuses for yielding to their impulses. For example, maniacs tend to remember the times they had a huge win or pulled off an outrageous bluff, while ignoring their losses. Or they say silly things such as, “You have to be in to win.”

Maniacs are usually extremely optimistic; they keep thinking they are going to get lucky. Rocks have the exact opposite attitude. They are pessimists who always fear the worst. If you asked a rock why he did not raise with a king high flush, he would not say, “Because I’m a wimp.” He would probably say, “I thought he might have the ace.”

We will focus on the extreme players because it is easier to see the pattern – in yourself or other people – but all loose-aggressive players have a strong need for action, and so on. In general, the more extreme a player’s style is, the more his primary motives overwhelm his other drives – including the desire to win.

Conversely, the more balanced a person’s motives are, the more flexible, rational and effective he will be – at the poker table and everywhere else. The relationship between styles, motives, and fears is especially important when you are trying to develop yourself as a player. If you do not understand why you play the way you do, you cannot overcome the inner forces that cause you to beat yourself.

Always ask yourself whether your ratings on motives are consistent with the way you play. Any inconsistencies suggest that something is wrong. For example, if you rate making money as your primary motive, but you lose regularly because you can’t resist tough games, you should recognize and try to resolve this contradiction.

Try to find out what is really happening inside your head and at the table and you will become a better poker player.

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