Do you have fancy play syndrome?

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Fancy Play Syndrome, AKA playing backwards, is a very serious condition among poker players. It causes you to have a high short-term variance while being -ev (negative expected value) in the long run.

Players with this condition can be found all over, but it primarily effects mid limit players who think they are gods gift to poker. They’re usually the ones playing every other hand at during a ring game or getting their chips in early on with marginal hands in poker tournaments.

Symptoms of FPS include:

  • Overusing sneaky poker tactics
  • Betting when you should be calling
  • Checking when you should be raising
  • Calling when you should be folding
  • Trying to hard to out play everyone
  • Playing all of your hands backwards

If you haven’t notice the pattern already, it’s playing your hands opposite (backwards) of the proved profitable way. You’ll feel like a pro when it works, but you’ll lose money more often then not.

Treating fancy play syndrome

The first step to treating FPS, like every other problem, is to admit that you have a problem. Take a step back, look at your game, and recognize your mistakes. A third person point of view can be very helpful for finding holes in your game, so if you have any friends who are winning poker players, have them look over your hand histories or watch you play.

Now that you have an understanding of what you’re doing wrong, Go back to the basics. Remember how playing tight and aggressive used to win you money back in the day? It still will! Let the LAG’s (loose and aggressive players) push you around, while you wait for your spot to strike and take their chips.

Here are some good ways to recover from FPS.

  • Play tight and aggressive
  • Drop down a limit
  • Play a single table so you can focus on making better reads
  • Block any distractions
  • Play by the odds
  • Read poker books or watch poker videos

Before you know it, you’ll correct your mistakes and fall back into your money making poker groove.

Adjusting to a fancy player

Now that you know what fancy play syndrome is, you’ll be spotting players with it left and right. These are the most exciting and profitable opponents. They loosen up tables, build huge pots, and pay you off very well.

Remember that players with FPS are called backwards poker players for a reason. When they’re betting out they often either have a draw or nothing at all. When they’re calling they could have a monster hand. And when they’re checking, you have to be careful of betting with a marginal hand, because they’ll often be planning a check rasie.

Sometimes they’ll hit a few hands and win some big pots, but don’t let this drive you crazy. Just continue playing your normal game and eventually the chips will slide your way.

2 Responses to “Do you have fancy play syndrome?”

  1. Ex Pro

    LOL I like the title, very clever. I also think its a serious problem that many people have. I know after a big win then a break from poker I forget how I won and just expect to win regardless of how I play. There are usually 9 other people that are more then happy to set me straight.

  2. pfred88

    I played two tournaments today, and I could not believe how many players hd fancy play syndrome. When I first became interested in poker I read Phil Helmuth’s book “Playing with the Pros” and followed his advice on only playing the ten top hands and staying out of trouble during the first few hours of a tournament. Out of approx 600 players, I made it to 62nd place. Not bad for a beginner-but i couldn’t believe how people were playing. It was crazy. It’s hard to hold your own. I’m really curious about playing a live game now!


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