Poker is more than just a card game; it’s a game of strategy, tactics, and psychology. The best players understand this, and they ensure they can master each aspect before they decide to hit the table.
While they know that they need mathematical knowledge and the ability to be able to make quick, informed decisions, they also know that they need to be aware of so much more, including their surroundings and what their body is perhaps revealing to others around the table.
Also, they need to realize that the game can be challenging to their emotions and minds. Not every hand will go in their way. Their experience can be akin to a rollercoaster ride as they will find they can go through a number of highs and lows throughout a session. This can have an impact on their mental psyche, which could then have a negative influence on their levels of motivation.
Naturally, there are numerous practices and methods that experienced professionals have utilized to ensure they are best positioned to navigate each encountered scenario. Each of these can be adopted by novices to the game, too, which could potentially transform any poker experience that is enjoyed in the future!
Mental toughness is perhaps one of a poker player’s most crucial skills. As highlighted already, there are various moments throughout a session where an individual may not have any luck. This is normal, and an experience the world’s best has also encountered several times. However, their mental toughness and ability to handle the situation correctly make them the world’s best. In order to prepare themselves, professionals continue to train against these scenarios, therefore ensuring they are not phased by them when they appear in real-game situations. This helps them manage any of their emotions as they can build resilience and achieve a greater sense of mental toughness. In doing so, they can limit exposing themselves in terms of providing emotional tells that others can exploit to their advantage.
Used as a term to describe a player’s emotional distress when reacting poorly to losing hands, avoiding the tilt is necessary and a skill that needs to be learned. It is arguably one of the biggest pitfalls for any player, as it can have a hugely negative impact on the entire game that is being played. Some practice avoiding the tilt by playing online poker, as it allows them to work on hiding their emotions, while other techniques include taking breaks and setting loss limits. Others have gone a step further, as they have looked to train their brains to consciously think about a losing hand in a positive way and use it to their advantage for future hands. Basically, learning from the lesson that has been taught and applying it to the next hand that is played.
Motivation can come in various shapes and sizes, but for a poker player, motivation has to be there from beginning to end when playing. Many are able to motivate themselves through various techniques and ensure they maintain it for as long as possible. As highlighted before, they have already trained themselves to acknowledge that scenarios can go against them. With this knowledge on board, they can keep themselves motivated and focused on the end result, knowing that the ride is going to be far from smooth.
Resilience is a vital skill for poker players, and it is not always one that is very easy to obtain. As individuals, we are all unique in the way that we deal with adversities that can be experienced. Ups and downs are part and parcel of poker, and those that are unable to handle them tend to find that they do not enjoy too much success when sitting at the table. Those who are resilient are able to accept certain events, then plan accordingly to them. They are proactive with decisions and can react in the right way when they find up against it, such as adopting strategies to minimize any future risk or changing their tactics.
The best poker players have a solid understanding of the game but also recognize and accept just how important and influential the mental side of the game can be. They invest a lot of time practicing and developing many of the skills outlined above, as they appreciate that having these can help them be the best poker player they can be. If they do not, then they may find life at the table even more difficult than it already is.