Why poker players make decisions that they know are false?

Poker and especially Spin and Goes and MTTs that require huge amounts of volume to be able to know whether you are a winning player or not. Players usually play multiple tables to beat the mathematical variance. This is possible due deep learning and doing most of the things on autopilot, but what about the situation when we face a difficult decision.

Anyone who plays Spin & Go, Expresso or any other poker format has certainly experienced that annoying feeling when the river completes a flush and the passive villain turns aggressive. So you had your set of Aces from flop onwards with no other dangerous cards hitting the board besides the flush. Your head starts spinning: why this against this asshat I should really fold here?

Your gut starts to turn and you feel anxious, maybe a small sweat starts to appear on your forehead and you feel sick that this is just so unfair but then again maybe just maybe its a bluff and while you still hear the “FOLD idiot” command in your head. You suddenly see as the cursor moves on top of the Call button. You feel your finger pressing the button of the mouse. Your eyes widen while you see the stack of chips move to the villain stack and your table closes or your auto reload puts you back to 100bb. And then the disgusting moment when the voice inside your head mocks you: I TOLD YOU SO…but you still clicked to call.

Why you should have not clicked the call button?

Not because we “knew” he had the flush. Maybe because we knew we had an awesome hand which still would be behind against this type of villain action from time and again, nope. Not even because we hear the voice of our coach inside our head saying: ask yourself why a villain like this acts like this? And not even because we have learned from the very starting times of our poker career, that villains like this always play their hand face up..and we are 90% of the time WB even with a nutty hand.

Late Daniel Wegner before Sam Harris concluded that everything we do are actually just unconscious decisions from the learned past. So we are slaved by the learning patterns. Manners we have been infected by our surroundings and people who have influence on us since our birth.

Let’s think about this. Newborn infant is a very stupid organism. It is totally under the influence and dependent of someone to be alive more than few hours after birth. But on the other hand they know every language of this world. The influence they get from their parents are just enforced while weakening the other ways to speak. Manners etc. come along.

We as humans have to learn every single movement from the scratch as we have not been able to learn “anything” while we were still inside the mother’s womb. All of the variables around us from the first second we are born shape us to be what we are. We live in the memories. Those have been repeated so many times that they have been moved to unconscious competence level. There we don’t have to think about how to do it..pick up something, walk an so on.

Going against the free will.

What Wegner proposed was that while under certain difficult and stressful situations our system starts a chain of neurophysiological events that makes us go ahead with wrong decisions while understanding we are going to fail. Because poker player understands that a set of aces is very good hand the stressful events like on the example of completed flush on the river makes us go against the sensible act. This act is the later learned when player like x does y on n board you must fold.

We start giving us very fast excuses that he can’t be that dumb to rep a hand like that like this (even when we know he does exactly that) etc. and we click the Call button instead. What is stressful then?
1. flush completion?
2. bad player getting rewarded again (injustice tilt)
3. tinfoil thought about rigged RNG?
4. the oh really, not again mindset kicking in (injustice tilt)
5. I have monsters, I really what villain is repping.
While all this shit goes on in your mind the beep beep from poker client timer screaming for you to decide just overpower your mental strength and we make the call against all odds.

Ego and Irony Poker players downfall

If you then dig deep into your mind it is just Ego and Irony wanting for you to call to proove you had a great hand anyways. After that you come and vent on your bad play on some forum or increase your tilt on the tables and the session downspirals. Irony is also another thing that makes no sense if you break it down. It is something we use to get during many other decisions outside poker tables. You might have heard a saying: Its easier to get pardon than permission. So we have a built in system for coping with bad decisions.

Another example of unconscious actions is if you see someone drinking a glass of water (make sure this is someone who can tolerate the coming bombing) ask them why did you drink that glass of water? 99% of the time you get an answer that: I was thirsty. Now you ask them to describe the process of drinking that glass of water and most likely you won’t get the answer.

Decision Patterns

Drinking water was just a certain pattern learned on early stages of life. Highly unlikely you will get an answer. I was dehydrated. My body sent a message to my brain about dehydration. Brain starts a sequence of actions where I “feel thirsty”. I go to the table. Pick up a glass. Walk to the tap. Open the tap of water. Fill the glass with water..etc. Because it is a sequence of coping action which deterministic goal is to get you hydrated. You are on autopilot living the life of memories of learned things that work in the unconscious level that makes decisions for you..not because you choose to do so.

This is the goal for poker too. We are trying to learn decision patterns for millions of different situations we face while on our session. We don’t want to spend thinking thru all our decision making like we should learn them (see the describe drinking of water example). because we face hundreds if not thousands decisions during few minutes.

Multitabling Poker on Autopilot

Our brain doesn’t normally work like that but we teach it to do so while we study the game. But if we don’t study the game by breaking in decision into tens of different sections we cannot turn them to autopilot mode correctly. If we just multitable on hazy autopilot where we just use level 1 thinking process or maybe level 2 thinking. Doing that we are most likely learning more bad decisions than good ones. Thus it is very important to learn how to learn things correctly. After that you have to learn correct things and then rinse and repeat so it turns into the autopilot mode.

Every time we face a difficult and stressful situation these “more simple” problem solving patterns kick in and we use them instead breaking decisions into parts. With no confirmation from unconscious level you just get the decisions already made in that level. This happens in a matter of 0-0,7 seconds well before you have really given a though for a possible way to solve this situation.


For this reason if we want to move onwards in poker we should use a ton of time to this problem solving. Every hand we have to think about more than a second even though decision is “already made” we are facing a situation where we don’t have answer to. Thus joining a poker community like SmartSpin is crucial for learning from coaches, other players and work together with them. This way you can move to the level where you don’t run into stress so easily at the tables due to difficult situation and get overran by you unconscious neurophysiological decision that you know if wrong. As it is you should now understand its not the correct strategy for situation X while holding N with a villain that is type Y.

Thank you for reading. Hope this helps you think about this game a tad differently and how to tackle your learning and mental game difficulties in the future. I am always open for poker and spin & go discussions so please leave a comment. Also if you want to join SmartSpin you can use click on this link let me know if you do this and I can help you get on with the recruitment procedures. Also if you are looking for fishy games online I can highly recommend


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9 thoughts on “Why poker players make decisions that they know are false?”

    • Removed backlink spamming..also the topic for this blog is not world hunger but letting this comment fly for now.

  1. This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me.

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