What’s the Rush? The Art of Slowing Down at the Table

By Paul “RegiTime” Regan

One thing I have noticed when sweating players I am working with, especially players that are struggling the most, is their propensity to rush nearly all of their decisions.

We are not blessed with a huge amount of time at the online felt but we do have more than enough time to regularly go through a number of basic thought processes which can help us immeasurably.

When I ask players why they rushed a particular decision, a common answer is that they thought an action was “standard”, i.e.; they flop top pair, so naturally, they make a c-bet. This of course is completely standard in most instances but what if our c-bet gets raised? If called, which turn cards are we going to continue firing on? If called, which turn cards are we slowing down on? The above questions are questions we’ll regularly need to have answers for and sometimes, 30 seconds isn’t enough to find the best answer.

I wish I’d had more time” Is something players often say to me when faced with one of the above questions. There is a simple way to give yourself more time AND relieve some of the pressure of having to figure out what the best move is.

The time can be found  by planning ahead using the time left after deciding to fire our c-bet. So, we decide after 2 seconds that c-betting is the correct play. We still have 28 seconds left to use, so why not use them now to consider our options should certain scenarios arise?

It’s way better to decide we’re bet/folding before getting raised. When we get raised, we can become frustrated, trying to find the most appropriate action under the stress of frustration can often lead to us making a poor decision. If we have already made a decision to bet/fold, bet/call, or bet/3-bet before we’re faced with the question, we’re going to find ourselves regularly making more correct decisions at the table.

Why does the ace always hit?” A scare card arriving on a subsequent street is a regular source of annoyance and frustration. This annoyance and frustration is heightened significantly when we’re not properly prepared for it.

Again, we should be using any spare time we have from previous decisions to consider how we’re going to react to particular cards on future streets. Again, this protects us from being forced to make tough decisions under the added pressure of a diminishing time bank whilst also suffering the added stress/frustration of seeing a card we didn’t particularly want to see.

You’re almost certainly a better poker player than your results currently suggest. In spots where you frequently struggle, you’re almost certainly better equipped to deal with them than you think.

How often, when reviewing a hand do you think to yourself that you made a bad play? When you identify a bad play you have made, it’s proof that you have the skill/knowledge to deal with that situation, so what went wrong in live play?

Almost certainly, you rushed.

The next time you fire up a session, open less tables. Force yourself to be pro-active rather than reactive. Instead of having x amount of tables blinking at you and constantly feeling under time pressure, learn to go though a routine of asking yourself a series of “what if” type questions before clicking the action button.

With experience, this will become second nature to you and you will feel able to add more tables again. The difference then will be when you add those tables back into your game, you’ll be using your time so much more efficiently that your win rate is significantly less likely to be affected by the increase in volume.

Time is precious. Use it wisely and most definitely don’t waste a second of it.