What is Results Oriented Thinking in Poker

Have you ever seen a strategy post on your favorite poker forum where the poster asks for a line check on a hand he or she lost? After reviewing the hand you realize that you and several others felt the same way — standard, you’d do the same thing as the original poster.
This is a common occurrence, and one of the best examples of results oriented thinking in poker. That player made a standard play, lost, and then questioned himself as to whether or not that was play correct.

I think most poker players are guilty of this at one point or another (I know I am). In fact, I have a couple more examples of results oriented thinking.

Another player that was in the same stable that I was made a post in our private forum explaining how he was going to adjust his strategy for how he played pocket QQs in his 45-man Sngs. He complained that he was tired of running into AAs, KKs and Ak. So to avoid running into these hands and losing, he was going to start playing QQs more passively by turning it into a setmining hand. QQs — a setmining hand?

I dare you to come up with a better example of results oriented thinking than that.

Nat Arem comes close. Check that link out and read #2. Nat mentions players in the chat box of an MTT saying things like, ur down a lot of chips lately, u shoulda chopped (the prize pool). As Nat points out, these players are making statements based only on what they can see (stack sizes), instead of focusing on what matters most — the skill set of each player.

There are numerous other examples too, like watching your bankroll fluctuate after every game or big hand, thinking you should’ve played a hand that you folded because it would’ve won or looking at a string of losses or wins, instead of your expectation or ROI. Despite being different situations, all of these examples have that one thing in common — the focus is on the result or outcome, instead of on the process, which is where the focus should be.

It’s the Process That Matters

Instead of focusing on the outcome of your AA being cracked by KK for the 8th time in a row, think back as to why you got your stack all in preflop in the first place. The answer is simple, right? You got AA all in preflop because it’s an 80% favorite versus another pair. Since you know why you did it, and furthermore, you know that it was the right play, there is no reason to question it afterwards. After all, you wouldn’t think twice about it if your AA held — I wouldn’t.

A common ‘results oriented’ situation in Sngs is having to shove or isolate shoves. For example, say someone has 7 big blinds and they shove all in preflop. You know this person’s range, because he’s a reg and you’ve reviewed your hand histories. So when you make the call with Kq and he shows up with Ak, why should it matter? It shouldn’t — you did your homework and (confidently) made a decision that versus his range, Kq is a good hand to isolate with. Your process is spot on, so don’t worry if you hit the top of his range — it happens sometimes.

Improving Your Results Oriented Thinking

Results oriented thinking can be difficult to overcome. Sometimes you’re thinking that way and don’t even realize it. There are a couple of things you can try though.

One suggestion is to evaluate everything but the outcome of the hand. When you review your hands, focus on what you did and why. Ask yourself if that was a reasonable thought process, and what, if anything, you could do better next time. This suggestion works better if you wait a couple weeks after playing so that you don’t remember the hand.

Be sure to do the same thing in forums. Post everything about a hand, such as reads, stats and the hand itself, but leave out the results. That way all the responses you get are unbiased.

Another option is to share your hands with your buddies or players that are better than you. They’ll be able to reaffirm your thought process, whether you were right or wrong, and they’ll be able to quickly tell you if you’re being results oriented or not.