Poker is a skill game which combines elements of psychology, strategy, and a little bit of luck. In this article I would like to focus on the psychological aspect of the game so you’ll see that it has a great impact on your game more than you might think.
One of my favorite things when it comes to this great game is watching poker video because it’s a wonderful way to learn how the professional players act, play and control their emotions during a hand. It’s no secret that when you’re on tilt, nervous, angry or upset you’re not playing at your best, you tend to make more mistakes and eventually lose money.
When starting a poker game whether it’s a live table or online game, you should be calm, relaxed, think about the positive aspects of the game and the opportunity to win a lot of money. Your mind is relaxed and you are fully focused on the game at hand so your mistake range is now down to a minimum.
You may think what I say is obvious and that I renew you nothing but you’ll be surprised what happens to players after long hours of play. They tend to get nervous when they don’t play a lot of hands, they get angry from trash talks at the table or discussion about how they should have played (a.k.a. tapping the glass) and not to mention the bad beats which always happen and will keep on happening even to you as it is a part of this amazing game. So, what’s the answer to deal with these situations? Mental strength!
One of the best poker players in the world today and a pro I really admire is without a doubt Antonio Esfandiari who has won 3 WSOP bracelets, 2 WPT titles and millions of dollars playing live and online poker. What makes him special apart from his poker wisdom, strategy and abilities to read opponents around the table is his abilities to always maintain calm, cool and laugh during games. This helps him forget bad beats, bad cards, wrong plays and losses and focus on the current hand and how to play better.
Here are a few tips I can share with you for a better play around the table:
1. Get Ready Prior to the Game – Before starting the game relax yourself, come cool and calm to the table and think how far you can reach with a concentrated play and good mood.
2. Come to the Table with a Smile on Your Face – No laughs here. When you’re smiling you actually transfer your mind that you are pleased, happy and in a good mood and in return you’ll feel this way too, your muscles will be relaxed and you’ll be able to fully concentrate on the game at hand. Besides that, your opponents will treat you more fondly and you’ll have less trouble with them later on during the game.
3. Avoid Trash Talks – Don’t get into trash talks fights as they will only distract you from the game, you’ll start to lose your concentration, make mistakes and lose money. Play like a professional and center yourself to win the game and the money on the table, let your opponents lose their heads. When someone trash talks you, don’t mind him and don’t answer back because that’s exactly what he’s looking for. Once he see you’re not into it he’ll leave you alone and look for a different victim to “start a fight” with.
4. Learn to Handle the Bad Beats – I know the feeling of playing a great game, reaching high levels at tournaments only to lose half of your stack or more because of a bad beat you can’t control of. The answer is to simply let it go. Forget your previous hands and focus on the current hand and how you can improve now and go deeper in tournaments or win more in cash games. The past is the past so leave it there, it won’t help you now thinking about it, carry on with the game and let the horrible bad beats and plays stay behind you, not on your mind.
5. There’s Always another Game – The game is over and it took a while so the best thing to do is rest. Don’t play too many games at short periods of time, contemplate a little bit about your game, where you could have played better, where you lost your nerves and concentration and learn from it for future games. The more you learn and play, the better player you’ll become and thus the more money you’ll earn around the poker table.
As you can see, poker is not all about strategy or luck. Psychology plays a great role in this game and mastering yourself and your emotions will get you far by playing smarter and cooler poker than ever. So, start working on yourself and I’ll see you at the tables.