Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

10 Lies Poker Players Tell Themselves

These lies are not the sort that get told to other people. You know, the ‘bad beat that would have made me chip lead in the Sunday Million’ type of thing (meaning average+ stack with 800 to go)… This post covers the lies that we tell ourselves. Of course, poker players are not unique here – we could apply similar ideas to getting fit, eating healthy and many other topics.

In no particular order!

Top 10 Lies Online Poker Players Tell Themselves

#1 – 'I’ll only play when I am awake, sober and sharp…'

Sure, until the next time you return home after a ‘few beers’, feel a little restless when you are stoned or find yourself next to a computer when tired / bored / unwell. We have all been here at some point. I recommend a separate account at a different site, especially for the micro-stakes / messing around.

#2 – “I knew I was beaten, but had to call”.

There are times when the ‘had to call’ might be true (pot odds and your hand reading skills combined to give you enough doubt to make the call profitable). If you really and truly ‘knew’ you were beaten, then you’d need some crazy odds to compensate for your call. After all, all you’d be getting is confirmation that you were right. Plenty of options here, how about starting with a  ‘had to call’ hand history collection that you can analyse separately?

#3 – “If I only had the bankroll to move up levels to where people respected by raises, I could escape from all these fish / bad beats”.

This might be a candidate for the most common lie of all… The truth hurts with this one, and many players push back on it for years before the ‘penny drops’. If you can’t beat the fish in the micro limits, the chances are that a move to the mid-stakes will see you skinned alive!

10 Lies Poker Players Tell Themselves

#4 – “I’ll balance my 3-betting range”

If you are going to survive at all you need to balance your opening hands. It shocks me how many players never 3-bet light. If you are only 3-betting the top 4% of hands, an experienced player will have a picnic of your bankroll. Not only will your hand be virtually transparent post-flop, your opponent will know when they are ahead and let you build a big pot.

#5 – “I know Stars is full of regulars and other sites are much easier, and I’ll move to the easy games soon”.

Some players do move, most don’t. The usual justification is that there are enough fish to go around at PokerStars… Think of it this way, in a 9 handed game you could be sitting with 4 or 5 breakeven+ regulars or 2 to 3 (for example at 888 Poker). Surely that is an easy choice? No?

#6 – “I’ll make the time to review my hand histories and seek advice (or go through the math) for tricky spots”.

You might have even gone far enough with this lie to make notes of those tricky spots, or get a stats program which keeps your hand histories. Those players who actually do this get better, become familiar with unclear (and often expensive) situations – and generate profits. If you are telling yourself you’ll do this and then never quite getting round to it, then slowly and surely you’ll be left behind.

#7 – “I won’t surf the web, message friends or watch TV while playing”.

This poker lie is very similar to the first one on the list. You start off focused, then 20 minutes later the temptations kick in… players who do this are giving up such a big edge from watching / making notes on opponent that they might as well go the whole hog and open a beer!

Review Hand Histories (tomorrow!)

#8 – “I knew it was a loose call pre-flop, but my post-flop skills make up for it”.

No, they don’t. Well, not unless you are a top few % player at the level you are playing at. Sure, there are occasional spots (isolating a deep stacked fish for example). What I find with this logic is that it is a regular excuse for light calls. The players who tell themselves this find themselves in marginal spots in multi-way pots with no clear idea what their opponents have. A little discipline (particularly from early position) with those starting hands can go a long long way.

#9 – “I know ICM is important, and get the general principle – I will learn the math later”.

Understanding the Independent Chip Model used to give you an edge in SNG and tournament play. These days, it is needed just to prevent you from giving up an edge to the rest of the field. Get yourself an ICM calculator and go through the numbers before you play another tournament of any size!

#10 – “I’m a great player, just a little unlucky”.

This is the single biggest lie of all in poker… and one that almost all poker players tell themselves at some point. Sure, bad runs can occur. The likelihood is that your luck is absolutely average (especially after a decent sample size). What is more, the chances are that you are stuck because of all the other lies you are telling yourself.

I’ll end with some good news. Simply identifying some of these lies within your own thought process, and putting a plan in place to eliminate the effects can be a real boost to your game.

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Did you know that Bovada Poker is closing, and their poker room transferring to Ignition Poker? This will create a new biggest US friendly site overnight. If you are based in the US, check out or read my detailed Ignition Poker Review here instead.

If you enjoyed this blogpost I would genuinely appreciate you taking
the time to share it using the ‘Recommend’ button – thanks