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Your Brilliance or Their Incompetence?

You’ve played poker for a long time and you’ve put a lot of hours to study the game, so naturally you feel a sense of accomplishment when you do well. When you bust a player out of a game, you might feel tempted to give yourself a pat on the back, puff out your chest a little, and put another notch on your gun belt – but perhaps you shouldn’t. Think back over the last handful of times you manage to take away the last your opponent’s chips, and ask yourself if it was due to your brilliance, or their incompetence.

Why does it matter? If you bust out a player, you are dangerously close to being prideful and, just like any other emotion, being filled with pride can keep you from playing your best game. But shouldn’t you at least feel a sense of accomplishment when you take away all of your opponent’s chips and knock them out of the tournament? Perhaps. Consider, however, the other reasons why that player might have lost.

The biggest reason why a player runs out of chips is because they made a mistake; actually, a lot of mistakes. Except for those reports you hear of players going all in on a first hand of a tournament and losing, running out of chips is a long-term endeavor that requires many mistakes over the course of time. Unless you can take credit for causing that player to make each and every one of those mistakes, you really can’t take credit for knocking them out of the tournament.

There is another reason why a player runs out of chips, and that reason is luck. Is it a mistake to call all in with the King High flush? Not really. If your opponent is holding the Ace High flush then that is just bad luck. If you won the hand that eliminates your opponent, and if it was a call like that, then once again you really can’t take credit for it.

Take credit for great lay downs, take credit for superior post-flop play, and take credit for not tilting, and just be thankful every time you knock an opponent out of the running.


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