Thursday, October 20, 2011

Poker pearl #65

Above: The October issue of Ante Up has an excellent article about something called decision fatigue.

In a recent post (see here), I referred to something I called tournament fatigue. Since then, I've found I was on to something, but it's more properly called decision fatigue. I didn't know what it was called, but I did see the behavior.

When people have to make many decisions, you could say they become overwhelmed. When they have to make decision after decision, something in their brain wears down and their ability to make quality decisions deteriorates.

According to a piece in The NY Times (see here), decision fatigue is different from ordinary physical fatigue. The more choices you have to make during a day, the harder it becomes for your brain and the brain looks for shortcuts. At poker (late in a tournament), I sometimes see players move all in when they know better. I also see players who go into fold mode -- they can't pull the trigger. Playing too passively is just as bad as playing too recklessly. Both are ways for the brain to shortcut the difficult decision-making process. It's like they are saying, "What the hell, I just don't care anymore."

Here's an excerpt from an Ante Up article (see link beneath image above) that cites studies by Roy Baumeister:
His studies show people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.

Now that you're aware of this phenomenon, can you create tactics to conserve your willpower and avoid decision fatigue? Can you apply this to poker or bridge?

For another interesting The NY Times article titled "Why You Need To Sleep On It," click here.

Wikipedia has a section on this topic here.

1 comment:

  1. I find I can only take photographs for 3 hours - after that it's as if my brain and eyes shut down - definitely fatigue.

    Photography is continuous decision making - most likely you use a different part of the brain than poker, but it's still decisions.