heads in jars

Are You a Poker Hoarder?


Hoarders Syndrome: the need to collect things whether it be books, trash, or emotion.

We hoard incidents in our mind which change our perception on the world.


Many poker players suffer some form of Hoarders Syndrome due to the painful emotional trigger of losing money.

The memory of the past loss frequently becomes associated with a specific hand, often a strong one like AK, so that every time we play AK in the future our emotional mind tricks us into expecting a negative result.

A side effect of hoarding painful memories is the override of logic that causes us to change the way we play poker in the moment. Players who once raised AK for value suddenly get a “bad feeling” and limp it instead. This logical override caused by a hoarded memory can have a negative impact on your profitability in poker.

Why do we hoard?

In nature Hoarders Syndrome has a positive impact on animals in the wild by allowing them to avoid dangers, plan ahead, and reproduce. Squirrels and rodents will bury and hide nuts to survive the long winter. Large mammals have developed acute instincts ( “gut” or “feeling” ) to sense danger and avoid predation.

The development of cities and technology for humans has moved our species away from the dangers of the wild into civilization.

Many of our instincts have evolved into Syndromes, Ticks and Issues; including Hoarders Syndrome.  Something that would benefit us in the wild now stifles us in every day life.

Our job as people and your job as a poker player is to attempt to quiet our instincts. I say attempt because as humans we are actually designed to behave a certain way. It is less natural to resist than to succumb to certain behavior. That said it can be done, but it is important that you don’t end up upset when we are unable to control ourselves.

It is okay, even expected, to try, fail, learn, and try again.

Make me logical

The best way to remove mental blocks triggered by feelings is to focus your energy on your breath in order to slow down your heart rate. By doing so, you are giving your mind a little ‘mini-vacation’ from the powerful negative memory of the past in order to focus on the most simple task in the present: breathing in and out.

This simple method is a very powerful solution to slowly removing the pain associated with past situations (Hoarding) and allows logic to move forward as the key player in our decision making process. The solution is simple enough and with a little patience and practice you can use it effectively.

Again, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are not trying to quite your mind permanently, if you succeeded you’d be dead. Rather the focus is simply on bringing awareness to your breathe, relaxing, and returning to your breathe as your mind wanders. 


Related Posts

Home > Are You a Poker Hoarder?
Home > Are You a Poker Hoarder?
About the Author
Ryan Fee

Ryan Fee

I'm a professional poker player and one of the pros here on UpswingPoker.com.

I'm a WSOP Bracelet winner, LAPT (Latin American Poker Tour) tournament winner and a multi-million dollar winner of live & online tournaments.

Put Your Skills to the Test with Quick Poker Quizzes!