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IntroductionIn 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 QuizThe 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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