Owning your triumphs is easy. When you rock something, you want to shout it from the rooftops - or at least plaster it across your social platforms. Taking ownership of your mistakes, however, is a tougher pill to swallow. Understandably: no one wants to admit they screwed up, certainly not publicly, and when you're playing poker, there's at least one other person who watches you botch up, if not thousands.
Here's the thing, though: owning your mistakes is the only way you're going to learn from them.
Trying to pass the buck or bury your mistakes means that you're turning your back on the problem, and when you can't face something, you can't fix it either.
This means a lot of your development as a poker player - and on a larger scale, as a person - is going to depend on your ability to be accountable for the plays you make, and the plays you don't.
Now, I'm lucky. On a daily basis, I have people telling me how my lessons have helped their game. This is awesome. Of course, the flipside to this is that I also have some people tell me that a particular lesson didn't play out for them, and this of course, blows. It blows, but it is not my fault - any more than it is truly to my credit when you win. You did that. I didn’t play the hand for you.
My job is to give you the tools you need to win, and some tools are going to work in certain situations, and in others, they won't. This is the nature of the beast that is poker: from your opponents to your stack size to your position to the cards in your hand, the ones on the table and the ones in your opponents' hands, there are way too many variables for any lesson to be applied across the board. The only strategy that applies universally in poker is that you have to adapt or die. You have to constantly evolve and change up your game.
If you want to learn from your mistakes and grow as a player, you have to own them. So, how do you do this?
3 Steps to Accountability
1. Accept the game for what it is.
Namely, a game of imperfect information. You are only going to be able to make the best calls you can with the intel you have, so you can't kill yourself over a hand you played to the best of your ability. Bad beats happen.
2. Don't dwell on it.
This is a tough one, I know, and while I am all for acknowledging your mistakes and taking the time to learn from them, pummelling yourself with the past isn't going to help your future performance. It's going to weigh you down and prevent you from becoming a more profitable player.
This said, the time to reflect on your session is NOT while the game is still in play. Shrug it off until you have time to think about it later on. When the game's on, you need to focus on what's in front of you, not what's behind.
3. Power up.
Accountability is something that can only happen after an event has transpired. Good or bad, you can't take accountability for something that hasn't happened yet, right? Right. So, after you've taken accountability - after you've reflected and determined what you can change, and what was out of your control (e.g. cards, your position) - then you can use this knowledge to become empowered again.
By acting from a place of empowerment rather than from resentment or defeat, you're setting yourself up to make stronger, more informed calls. Playing with the mindset that your fate depends largely on something or someone else will have you running scared. Yes, of course there is an element of luck in poker, and yes, as I've mentioned, some things are out of your control, but - as is evident by the fact that there are thousands of pro players who make a solid and consistent living playing poker - skill is the biggest determining factor. Luck always runs out.
I'm not saying taking accountability for your actions is always going to be a pleasant experience. When you've messed up, it can be painful, but much like the proverbial Band-Aid, it's best to rip it off fast, let the wound breathe and with time, heal. And it will. If you own your mistakes, you'll bounce back stronger than ever. I guarantee it.