Successful poker mindset

    • DiSpirit
      Joined: 29.06.2009 Posts: 40

      I hope this thread to start discussion which will enlighten all of us. Now, I love self-help and motivational literature, it helped me fix and enhance most of the life's areas and it thought me that "correct attitude" is above all. However, when it comes to poker, it seems that completely different rules apply. Okey, enough with the introduction, here's what puzzling me most at the moment

      1. Playing smart vs playing a lot

      In general, I don't like work :) I don't think anyone does. So to get things done, I'll find a way to use 80/20 rule and work smart. This works great in every area except poker - no matter how hard you try to "beat the system", your aces will still have the same chance to win. So, in general no matter what you do, you'll still have the same 5 or 10% roi (numbers of course varies due to your and opponent skill level). For this roi to make significant income you either have to put in really high volume of play or play higher limits which naturally decrease your roi (better opponents, less edge). Some implementations of "play smart" includes proper table/opponent selection, but it seems to be relevant only to mid+ stakes

      So, is poker really something where you cannot escape grinding to succeed in ? Or maybe I'm not thinking of the correct implementation of "play smart"

      2. Setting goals

      Now, imo this is vital for succeeding in anything in life, but I can't seem to figure out what goals can be set in this sport
      a) volume goals - this is a very popular one "play 150 games per week", play "XX hands per day" and so on. Pros? It keeps your mind detached from the outcome (less tilty?), it should help increase profits/better your game. Cons? Firstly, my problem with putting high volume is a bit covered in 1. point, second, let's say you want to play 30 games a day, and thanks to almighty variance you lose first 10 of them (of course, getting best bad beats ever :D ), now, rationally winning other 20 would still make a pretty good day for you, BUT unless you have zen-like mind or you'r an actual computer the odds are that you'r pretty tilty by now (or something less serious, maybe just not enthusiastic) and this means you don't play you "A game" anymore, so your roi is decreasing and its not profitable to play anymore. So, should you stop? Yes! But this means that you failed on your daily goals and this makes it harder to persist with greater long term goals

      b) Profit goals - "make XX money buy the end of the month/year". Again, good because it lets you play only when you can bring your "A game" but can get so frustrating when variance hits and makes you tilt like crazy

      c) Always play you A game/Always better your game - this just falls in a category of bad goal setting because it cannot be evaluated objectively ("wow, I played near perfect today and made XX profit" when in fact almighty variance just plays with you :) and yes hand histories/evaluation helps a lot, but still there a plenty of judgment calls without a "correct answer")

      So, can goals be set in poker? If so, how to do it properly?

      Ah, feel better now that I put my wonderings here. It would be greatly appreciated if you could shared what worked for you. And also, similar ideas/doubts/wondering/questions about the correct poker mindset are welcomed here too
  • 2 replies
    • EmanuelC16
      Joined: 02.01.2010 Posts: 13,897
      Hi DiSpirit!

      I can only say about something I'm trying until somewhere around October: I try not to let bad beats affect my game. In poker, theoretically the best thing to do is to be indifferent to losing/winning a big pot whether it's due to bad luck or bad play. I have realized that I can't do that and I may never be able to. But I can realize if it's affecting my game and try my best to "reverse the process".

      About goals, if they involve currency they are no good, because the game is unpredictable and if you see yourself losing you'll tilt and if you see yourself winning you'll be overconfident which is just another form of tilt. So, if you want $X/day and get more or less it may well affect your game.

      If you can control yourself and not tilt after losing 10 SNGs, then by all means, just play the other 20. If you can't handle losing 10 straight SNGs, choose another game type, as this will happen quite often.

      Read and reread poker psychology material! Strategy material is also important but with the wrong mindset you can lose everything you've won during the last week in a matter of minutes. My plan is to reread The Poker Mindset soon. I'll have to improve my game more but when (and if) I plan on moving to NL25 (I currently play NL5 :D ) I'll most certainly read it again. And every time I climb up a limit I'll give it a try until I feel I fully understand the concepts explained there and can apply them.

      For me, this summer has kind of been a test to see if I have what it takes to be serious about poker (put in good volume for a beginner, get the mindset, get the skills to move up). If I fail I'll probably remain a micros recreational player :) . You can have a look at my progress so far in my blog. If you want to discuss more you can always send me your Skype ID.

      Manu :diamond:
    • taavi1337
      Joined: 29.05.2009 Posts: 2,920
      You shouldn't set profit goals. Profit is not a target, but side effect.