They say that a sign of a champion is their ability to thrive under pressure. However I'll always remember a speech delivered to my cricket team some years ago by Dr Phil Jauncey. He was a leading sports psychologist who had worked with some of the country's most successful sporting teams - namely the Australian cricket team and the Brisbane Lions AFL teams during their eras of dominance.
During that speech, Dr Phil made the claim that the above statement about thriving under pressure was simply a common misconception.
"Guess what? Under pressure, your instincts SUCK!" Dr Phil would shout at us over and over. It was rather deflating for a young cricketer to hear, but it's a line still resonates with me to this day. Dr Phil would go on to explain that the mind can be crippling to one's performance, and that when a player was playing at their best, they would barely notice what they are in fact doing. As soon as one has to think about a play or situation, then it would negatively affect their actions.
It's probably pretty hard to explain that to a poker player, as the game is such a battle of the mind. It's psychological war on the felt, but it's certainly a similar situation now that we are getting to the business end of proceedings in the ANZPT Perth Main Event.
We're approaching the final table, and the rising payouts have increased the pressure on our players, with several recently showing signs of their instincts letting them down.
Robert Forward probably wouldn't normally shove A♥4♥ preflop, but a preflop raising war against Bosnia's Dejan Divkovic saw Forward get a little too aggressive at the wrong time. Divkovic woke up with A♦A♠ and took down the 600,000-chip (100BB) pot to eliminate Forward from the tournament in 16th place. Divkovic is now one of our chip leaders.
Moments later we saw another crazy-huge pot, this time when James Broom and Iori Yogo clashed. Broom had squeezed preflop from the small blind, before Yogo put in a sneaky back-raise after flatting the original raise on the button. Broom thought long and hard about the situation, before moving all in with his A♥Q♣. Yogo made the call with Q♠Q♦ and secured the massive double up to over 750,000 chips.
Broom is still alive, but at a recent break confessed to us that he had over-analyzed the situation and should have just folded.
Now with just 13 players remaining, the pressure is only going to intensify even further as we're just four eliminations from our final table. Poker is a game of the mind and a game that requires one to trust their instincts. But if you believe what Dr Phil says, always remember that when under pressure, your instincts suck!