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StrategyPsychology

Self-Management Quiz

Introduction

In this article
  • Technical strategic abilities vs organizational psychological skills
  • Self-control and management

You need to be proficient in two areas to be a successful poker player: first there is your technical-strategic ability and then there are your organizational-psychological skills.

All of you've acquired the ability to successfully play all the starting hands as well as being able to play a tight-aggressive post flop game that makes the most of your opponent's weaknesses. Then why do so many of you still have problems making large sums of money with poker in the long term?

The Quiz

The reason for this is the other side of the coin, that is to have oneself under methodical and psychological control. Here are a few questions to help you test for this:

  • If a car cuts you off, do you get angry?
  • Do you try to win every argument?
  • Are you impatient and try to never waste time?
  • Do you pound the table and yell in reaction to the game?
  • Do you take up every challenge offered to you?
  • Do you try to even out your losses during a losing session?
  • Do you play poker when drunk?
  • Do you know how much money you're playing with? Do you get nervous when you imagine what you could buy with all that money?

Every question to which you answered 'yes' is a potential problem that could stop you from being successful at poker. Why is this?

  1. You cannot let your emotions get the better of you in poker: You're all familiar with the worst of bad beats or losing sessions. That shouldn't deter you from making the correct decision in the current situation - you should remain emotionally unattached.
  2. A poker player must be his own critic: Closely examine every hand in which you made a mistake, so you don't repeat it in the future.
  3. Patience and discipline. Success at poker is in the long term: You must be able to concentrate on your game during weeks of losing play, regardless of the harsh results. Also see #1.
  4. Self-mastery. Bad beats are a normal part of poker: Every second you spend getting worked up over bad beats is a waste of time and energy. You should instead use this time to stay entirely focused on the matter at hand.
  5. Endurance: You can neither advance in limits too quickly nor can you play a few 200 sit'n'go tournaments just for fun, even if you have twitchy fingers. Such adventures usually end in catastrophe.
  6. It's about your gaming prowess and not about the results: At the end of a session you should ask yourself how many mistakes you've made and not about how much money you've won or lost. If you notice that you can no longer concentrate during a losing streak, then take a break. The drive to make up for their losses has run many people into the ground.
  7. Professionalism: When you play poker you should be in tip-top shape, otherwise it's just a waste of money. If you want to relax, watch a dvd.
  8. Objectivity: You cannot play a perfect game of poker if you're constantly contemplating what you could buy with the money in the pot. Your poker bankroll should be viewed as an asset to be constantly improved upon. Poker is about playing perfectly, the results are short term distractions. Think in big bets, and never in dollars!

Almost everybody will have identified some problems with their methods from the above quiz. It is just as important to correct these mistakes as it is to correct the purely game-theoretical mistakes. Just like gaming mistakes, psychological mistakes invisibly affect our winrate.

What can you do to improve in this area?
  • Insight: Make it clear to yourself that the psychological-methodical side of poker is just as important as the strategic side and make an effort to improve it.
  • Self-perception: Observe yourself. Take heed when you are not psychologically on your game and do something about it. In case of an emergency, take a break.
  • Further development: Pull yourself together and try to remain calm under all circumstances. It's difficult in the beginning, but this capability can be learned. And it's very useful at the poker table.
 

Comments (13)

#1 Vargan, 16 Mar 08 13:57

Nice read. Thanks! :)

#2 canUwin, 05 Oct 08 00:23

IF U HAVE 5-6 "YES" I THINK IS NOT THE BEST FOR A PLAYER. LOL<br />

#3 mouse89, 06 Oct 08 14:30

ok

#4 Harold1, 01 Dec 08 19:22

3/8 aint good<br /> <br /> I need to work on some things, of course if all the other players are drunk i should win easily!<br /> <br /> What could I possibly need u for then?<br /> <br /> lol<br /> <br /> That's really the way I think when i'm at the table so lol again.<br /> <br /> If you want to lose your house play like i do.<br /> <br /> did

#5 curtis630, 11 Jul 09 12:20

1 wish i would of failed that quiz but it looks like i just received<br /> a passing grade. Time to plug some holes in the mental side of my game. Great read.

#6 theboydave, 23 Jul 09 16:17

When i think of which pro poker player id like to model myself on i think john juanda he is calm patient and doesnt seem to get riled/tilt.

#7 AugustusCaesar, 11 Aug 09 06:34

I do not see how :<br /> "Are you impatient and try to never waste time? "<br /> What kind of question is that ? I see "impatience" as something negativnem however "trying not to waste time" is one of the goals of my life and I consider it to be positive .. I do not understand that question<br />

#8 SneakyhanD, 12 Aug 09 17:55

That is a part from "Ace On The River" by Barry Greenstein, give him some credit though !

#9 gemcxx, 05 Dec 09 14:28

@augustusceasar.... yes, impatience in a poker game is a negative trait. if you are impatient and you are not hitting cards your impatient nature will lead you to play bad cards. its as simple as that. <br /> <br /> ps/ if your goal is not to waste time i suggest you don't play poker... hehe<br /> <br />

#10 AleMantovani, 20 Jul 10 17:37

I'm enjoying very much the articles about psychology. The major part of the money I lost recently was because of psychological aspects, I recommend you guys read them all and pay attention, they're really helpful :)

#11 RazvanDan, 26 Sep 10 11:32

I find it very difficult to stay calm when I am losing with a straight against a flush,with a set against full house,with a full house against a better full house,with a pair of kings against a 96 that ends up being a straight.I lost these last days by playing nice hands that lost against weaker hands on the river,it's very frustrating for me,I have to read more

#12 naujokaz, 04 Apr 11 12:14

reading on the psychological aspers of the game really helped my bankroll, keep up the posts! ;)

#13 Pouserly2, 12 Aug 11 09:12

Still a good and interesting read.