Let me tell you a little story about John and the mistakes he made during a streak of good luck.

John had been playing poker for the fun of it for a couple of years, but for the last few months he has started to take it a bit more seriously, investing quite a lot of time and effort to improve his skills. With his mind is set on continuing to play his best, keep improving his skills and with a bankroll of $1,000 he is now playing $0.10/0.25 No Limit Hold’em 6-max at partypoker.

Mistake number 1 – Focusing on results

The first three weeks at $0.10/0.25 NL were very successful for John. He used what he had learned, played well and everything just felt easy. Rarely did he encounter very difficult decisions and he won most of the all-ins he was involved in. After three weeks, his bankroll had doubled to $2,000, something John had not expected to happen this quickly.

This was a lot of money to John, it proved to him that working on his skills had helped and that he was now a good player. He also thought a lot about the riches that awaited him if he could keep this win-rate up. He even started bragging a bit to his friends about his recent results as well as his plans for what to do with future winnings.

At this point the first mistake had been made. John’s focus was now mostly on results, and the ego boost he took from what happened the last few weeks connected his emotions even more to the results. This opened up doors he originally did not intend to pass through.

Mistake number 2 – Studying less

As John felt the wind in his sails, he wanted to let them take him as far as possible. It felt more important to him to play as much as he could rather than spending time studying and improving his game. He still watched an instructional video occasionally, but most of his time was now spent at the tables.

This second mistake of his young career could be very damaging. The true key to John’s future success in poker lies in his ability to develop his game; this will allow him to improve his win-rate and compete at higher stakes. John didn’t see it this way, he was just hunting for money, doing his thing.

Mistake number 3 – Getting too comfortable

When John started playing seriously three weeks ago, he had very clear rules to follow during game play, such as a maximum amount of tables to play, ways to avoid distractions and maintaining a solid thought-process for making decisions at the tables.

Without really noticing it, John had started to play a few more tables than normal as he thought he couldn’t lose. He even played some nights after having a few drinks, often watching TV at the same time.

Mistake number 4 – Playing with scared money

John kept an eye on the results at all times. He didn’t really want to end a session in the red as it left him dissatisfied. It often led to short winning sessions or long tilting sessions when he was trying hard to finish in the green.

With a bankroll of just over $2,000, he had the bankroll to move up in stakes. And in a situation where some players would have made the mistake to move up even higher, John choose to take it extra easy, not willing to risk losing what he had already won.

This was a small mistake in terms of bankroll management, but a detrimental mistake when it comes to his ability to play well and keeping the right focus.

Mistake number 5 – Ignoring variance

What was waiting around the corner for John was the inevitable experience of running into bad luck. With a correct mindset, like John had when he started, he would have dealt with the bad luck in the best possible way. Now, his focus on results will make him easily tilted, and his lack of discipline on and off the tables will allow him to make mistakes he otherwise would never make.

John should have anticipated and prepared for this. Instead he had set himself up for failure.

Mistake number 6 – Not learning from your mistakes

As the bad luck kept coming, John kept making mistakes he normally wouldn’t make and even his friends could see how it had hurt his ego. Once his bankroll and ego had hit rock bottom, John realised the mistakes he had made along the way, swore never to make the same mistakes again and after a couple of weeks away from poker, he was back at the tables better than ever before.

Hopefully John will remember the lessons learned from this experience. Running well plays tricks on your mind and can easily disrupt your focus in one way or another. At least, if this happens again to John, he can recognise it before it has caused a lot of damage to his game or bankroll.

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