Resist the fear of missing out, a.k.a. FOMO

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There’s a tendency for novice investors to chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. When a trend gets going, it often continues until it ends badly.

Bubbles form, investors pour still more money in as those late to the party want to get in on the action.
Eventually, the bubble will burst and a lot of money is lost. What drives people to invest in hot trends?

It’s the “fear of missing out” or FOMO. No one wants to be the guy at the cocktail party not talking about the money he’s made.

So, what does this have to do with poker? I often see a similar phenomenon at the tables. Novice players tend to look at the potential of their hand rather than rationally think through the situation of the particular play.

They have a piece of the board and they’re hoping to turn it into something bigger. They have a flush or straight draw and they have to see the hand to the river regardless of the price, even if the board is paired.

Much like the investor who ignores fundamentals, these players are chasing the dream. They’re afraid of missing out. They would feel much worse folding their hand prematurely if that flush draw came in.

The fear of missing out outweighs the proper course of action, which is to analyze each hand independently and weighing relevant factors such as likely holding of opponents, relative stack sizes, pot odds, texture of the board, how you’re perceived, likelihood of getting paid off if you hit, etc.

What is similar to the trend chasing investor and the flush-chasing player is they’re both driven by emotion rather than calculated thought.

They may have a feeling, or they may see those around them making money and they want in. They get impatient and greed overtakes rationality. If you want a hint of how a player thinks, observe. You’ll hear one of these guys rant about how he folded 7-5 to a three-bet preflop only to watch a 4-6-8 rainbow flop materialize. It’s not just casual conversation or observation but a real lament and regret.

Poker and investing require rational, independent, calculated thinking devoid of emotional influences. They require consistent, steady and good decision-making.

The short-term results don’t always follow and bad decisions often can be rewarded in both arenas, further perpetuating those who are afraid of missing out.

Take the time to analyze your game and make sure you’re resisting FOMO.

— David Apostolico is the author of numerous poker strategy books including Tournament Poker and The Art of War. You can contact him at thepokerwriter@aol.com.