In our everyday lives, we frequently are confronted with the Had2 Devil. The car was really dirty, so I Had2 stop and get it washed today. I knew I really didn’t need it, but I Had2 sample that last piece of chocolate cake. I didn’t have any money on the game, but I Had2 check on the Michigan State game scores. I didn’t really need anything from Wal-Mart, but I was in the neighborhood, so I Had2 stopped and ran in. Most of us can easily rationalize just about anything the Had2 Devil can conjure up.
This mind set easily and frequently transfers to the poker arena. When the flop came Ace, 8, 3, all spades, I knew my two red UFA pocket Kings were no good. I just Had2 see what proud Fred held… When the river produced a fourth heart, I couldn’t muck my weak flush. I just Had2 call…There were six players in the hand and two clubs on the board. I had an open-end straight draw. I just Had2 to see one more card even though I had no clubs.
This Had2 mentality can be the kiss of death for a poker player. It also is a counter productive and negative influence in many of our personal lives.
What would have happened if we had not gotten the car washed, or eaten that piece of chocolate cake, or completely disregarded the Michigan State game, or failed to go into Wal-Mart? In all likelihood, the world would have continued to revolve on its axis. Life would have gone on and absolutely nothing negative would have happened to us. The Had2 Devil was just playing with our head.
Few if any of us are immune to the lure of this troublesome rogue demon.
Before you read on, stop a moment. Think back to the last time you had an untimely visit from this costly imp. Whose voice did you hear in your head?
Come on. Play along. Take just a minute and go back…
Whose voice was it?
Do you hear him…or was it a her?
When I stopped and replayed the last few times I succumbed to the prodding of the Had2 Devil, I discovered that the gender changed based on the situation. I also noticed that the voices seemed to come from my far past…even my childhood.
This is some of the feedback I’ve gotten from other players about the identity of their Had2 Devil:
Some poker players hear the voice of a strict schoolteacher who ruled with an iron hand and constantly made them take time outs.
Others swear it’s the voice of a once, overbearing spouse.
While others are sure it’s the voice of a domineering parent who constantly told them to stand up for themselves.
Some have even said it’s the voice of a would-be friend.
Have you ever seen other poker players blame everything and everyone except themselves for their poor playing practices and subsequent losses? It’s almost as if these players were possessed by the evil imp.
You know what I mean. Certainly, you’ve been at the table with a player who constantly justifies his actions by saying, “I just Had2 call.” Then he proceeds to tell you all the various and sundry reasons why he Had2 call.
Then there is the time you’re faced with the aggressive player who constantly runs over the table and brags about his bluffs. You finally catch a hand and bet out. Without hesitation he raises, as he’s done all night.
Just as before, you are convinced he is holding nothing. You re-raise him, and he flamboyantly caps the bet.
As the hand progresses, the strength of your hand diminishes. He refuses to back off and keeps firing bets into the pot.
His demeanor is even stronger than before. You refuse to let him run over you. You can’t seem to help calling his bets.
Even as your hand gets weaker and seems to fade away, you find yourself calling the final bet he fires into the pot, because… you Had2. It was a matter of honor you tell yourself as he drags the pot. It was a matter of saving face. It was a matter of not letting him run all over you.
Please understand. I’m not immune to this mischievous demon. He or she, as the case may be, pops up at the most unexpected moments. My personal objective regarding this unwelcome guest is to boot her out of my game as soon as I become aware she’s arrived.
I’ve asked other players whose voice they hear in their heads when the Had2 Devil prods them to call that last bet, even when they KNOW they are beaten. Their answers are very interesting.
Even though I’m not a trained psychologist, the study of human behavior has mesmerized me most of my life and been one of my favorite avocations. I’ve also spent a great deal of time and energy trying to decipher what makes me tick. That said, I sincerely hope I do not offend any trained professionals who have selected poker as one of their captivating pastimes.
In my opinion, when we entertain the Had2 Devil, invariably we’re seeking a scapegoat for our personal actions. And, to take us off the hook, we empower this internal creature with the voice of someone who had control over us in the past. Interestingly, it seldom seems to come from someone who, we perceive, currently has control over us. Regardless of the source of that voice, we willingly hand over our power, so we can place blame for our poor decisions.
Next time, you feel you Have2 do something, stop and ask your self, “What will happen if I don’t do it?” If the answer is, “Probably nothing,” then take a pass, and don’t do it. I suspect that you will find that more than half the time, the Had2 Devil is lying to you.
Until next time, when you play poker, only call when you are prepared to raise.