Have you ever looked over a match you lost and reialized if you were to make a more agressive play you would have won? Maybe you were to concered that your opponent may have that Gorz the Emissary of Darkness or Effect Veiler in thier hand. Or have a set Solemn Warning or Bottomless Trap Hole.
If you have ever realized this, then you need to desensitize yourself to risk.
“Scared playing can’t win.”
It’s a much-used Yu-Gi-Oh cliché, but an extremely important concept. The point it is trying to make is that if you are playing Yu-Gi-Oh afraid to lose, then you are less likely to win because you will be prone to making sub-optimal decisions.
Remember, making the correct decision is making the choice that will position you for a win in the long run. If you focus on trying not to lose, you are no longer trying to make the correct decision. Your decisions will now be made within the confines of damage control and decreased risk. You are costing yourself game position as soon as you start giving up hands with positive expectation in order to decrease your risk. Yu-Gi-Oh is a game of small edges, and giving up situations with positive expectation can be enough to turn a winning player into a losing player.
There are two factors that tend to contribute to how likely you are to play scared:
First, how strong is your deck? Do you have a deck that can win? Have you been losing recently and are now feeling your deck is not that good? Have you recently moved up a level of play and are viewed higher and expected to win? If any of these are true, then you will be more prone than usual to play scared.
Second, what is your attitude to risk? Are you generally apposed to risk? Does your fear of losing override your desire to win? Do you fear losing despite having a strong deck? If so, then you have a problem, as these are not good attributes in a Yu-Gi-Oh player.
Potentially, you could fall into a number of traps by playing scared:
Playing too tight
If you are scared of losing, then you may be reluctant to play a grind game without a very good hand, even when the hand looks good to steal a win. For example you are playing a Wind-Up deck and don’t open up with Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Shark. Usually you open with this hand, you will be winning in the next turn or maybe even that turn. But what happens when you don’t open with that broken combo? You effectively miss out on some winable opportunities, which add up over time.
Not taking enough risks
If you’re playing scared, you will be unlikely to take a big game changing move because of the possibility of losing a lot of your on board presence or hand presence. If your opponents catch onto this, then they will start stealing games from you at every opportunity. They will play into your fear and force you to make plays you really don’t want to do, but have to inorder to survive.
Not bluffing enough
Bluffing is, for the most part, an overrated skill. Beginners tend to believe that bluffing is what Yu-Gi-Oh is all about, when in fact playing solid Yu-Gi-Oh and bluffing very little, if at all, is generally a far more prudent strategy. However, if you never or at least very rarely bluff, then you will become very predictable to observant opponents. If you are playing scared, then you will tend to avoid trying bluffs, as they tend to be high-risk plays.
In general, you should prefer to be in a position where you are able to handle a large loss with merely a shrug of the shoulders. Some players are able to do this, but most can’t. The best most of us can hope for is that we keep our losses in perspective, remembering that moderate losses are inevitable in the short term. The important thing is that you don’t let fear of losing adversely affect your play.
It is difficult to teach someone how to not be insensitive to risk. As previously stated, some people are just too risk averse to ever be able to achieve this. Regardless, there are two things that will help you desensitize yourself to risk.
Experience – The more you play, the more you will get used to the amount of risk involved and the less they will affect you.
Deck Tier – That match loss when you were playing your fun deck looks smaller when your Teir 1 deck is one of the top decks in the format.
In reality, you will probably need to adopt a combination of the two. This is something you will have to do to consistently make the right play and avoid “playing scared.”
It is not easy to desensitize yourself to risk, and for the most part, it is a process that requires time. Always be sure to play within your risk-tolerance limit. As you build a better deck, work on your risk-tolerance also. Remember, you are never required to make any plays if it is too uncomfortable for you to do so.
So Stop Playing Not To Lose! Play To Win!!