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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Mojo’s blog points us to an interesting phenomenon.  It discusses an article in Ante Up by Doc Bloomfield — a poker playing shrink.  I had little trouble identifying with the premise.   I won’t say it is wrong but I sure think it is incomplete.

The term he uses is Decision Fatigue.  He is certainly approaching it from an expert perspective with academic fervor.  I just don’t agree with the process that creates it. Or, maybe I should call it incomplete.

I’ve referred to a similar result that I saw occur in my play.    I have referred to it as my boredom tilt.  If you bop up to the search function here, you’ll get a lot of hits.   Boredom tilt isn’t any better a descriptor.

When I went to playing on-line, I was voracious.  At the time, I was playing Sit and Goes on UB.  They logged monthly playing time and I was exceeding 200 hours every month.  That went on for quite a while — enough hours for a full time job with overtime.   Decision Fatigue was a non-issue.  I could log 8-10 hour sessions and was conceivably playing as well at the end as at the start.   Of course that is my non-empirical  view

I played a lot of tournaments and started to notice that at a point I would have atypical responses. They occurred a few hours into the tournament and that’s  what the good doctor’s article addresses.  Yes, I had made a lot of decision but I’d shown I conquered the fatigue of repeated decision making.  Now that didn’t seem the case.  I backed off the old plan and went searching.  This finally played out when I was still a paid blogger.   That added its own pressure.

I found my solution.  It wasn’t that I failed due to decision fatigue.  And, I think it is something shared by many.    The players are mostly old hands with a lot of table hours.  They can log session that debilitate based on accumulated fatigue and yet seem able to avoid decision fatigue if not regular fatigue at some point hopefully before calling EMT.

The game of choice in Bobby’s room is mixed games.  The decisions came just as or even more often.  The typical game of choice is Hold’em.  The decision to play is fairly codified and the decision relatively easy.   It has fewer betting rounds than some games.  The following three rounds have a solid basis for action.  That not saying always right but it does provide an odds bias.  Other games are different and similar.

When black Friday hit, I was killing tournaments.  I was finding easy to play for 3-4 hours without any decision fatigue.  I was playing Stud 8B.  I’d play the occasional NLH tournament — even won one.  But, that was the only one I felt I’d played to my potential.  That’s why boredom tilt seemed a better choice to describe what takes place.

Too much of a good thing makes Jack a dull boy.

What I think makes Decision Fatigue incomplete is that it fails to describe the real problem.  Exuberance. Commitment.  Dedication.  And so on.  We see it in the abandon hobby.  In the job burnout. In the mid-life crisis. Decisions are a part of this but not the true problem.  Poker is about challenge.  We create a world and attack it.  It is a pseudo life.  Success, failure, challenge are everyday and we met that head on. Bad decision are always a part of that.  But, it grows when we lose or lack involvement.

The fatigue isn’t really in decisions.  I think we could join to fill a book about what really takes place.  It is a lot more involved.  So, when you do find yourself in the a situation the doctor describes,  you might seek a more holistic solution.


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