Poker is mainly a skill, partially math and a lot of luck; however, for the sake of clarity, let’s leave the percentages and numbers to the maths experts. The point is that poker is a mind game, meaning the difference between a good game and a great game is all in your head. No, that doesn’t mean you are crazy, it is to say that, like with any other sport, one needs a clear head to be able to play their best.
Before a poker tournament or poker session, many players focus on their strategy and learning the necessary maths, but most players forget to prepare themselves mentally. This is a rookie error as having a good mental state before and during a game is one of the top pieces of advice from professionals. Knowing how to keep your cool will alter your gaming tactic significantly.
Great players know how to implement their strategy during a game. They can see when they make a strategic error and can figure out how to rectify it. But the problems come when players start making small mistakes and judgement lapses that cost them the game.
That is why great players with great strategy can still play horribly, all because they were not in the right frame of mind.
Why This Matters
Well, it may seem obvious, but sometimes it isn’t; if you are in the right mental state, you will have a great game. That doesn’t mean you won’t lose, and it simply means you will be in control of your moves, your emotions, and your strategy.
Even if you end up with a loss, you will be able to do proper recon and learn from your mistakes or adopt some of your opponents’ superior skills.
Clearing the Mind
Below are some suggestions that can help you clear your mind before you play.
When we say distractions, it is not just the loud music blaring from a car down the road. We are talking about internal distractions. If you come to the poker table and haven’t finished the work report you were supposed to complete days ago, that will impact your game.
If there was something a partner or child asked you to do and you procrastinated, rather take care of it and get it done before playing. Otherwise, your mind will wander to it, or even less subtly, the person in question will keep coming to check if you have done what they asked for.
So simply put, take care of all outstanding business, dot your i’s, and cross those t’s, so they don’t bother you during play, if you were asked to take a look at a full list of the latest PayPal casinos before playing, then just do it.
It may seem that meditation is the new buzzword on every self-proclaimed guru’s lips. Yes, it is, and with good reason; meditation does work, especially if you want to clear your mind of needless clutter
Meditation allows you to clear away the events of the day or week or anything else that could hinder your game. You are then able to focus and visualise your goal, whether it is everyday life, sports or as in this case, playing a few hands of poker.
The best part about mediation is that you can literally do it anywhere; sit and meditate or even run and meditate. Because the focus is on your thoughts and mind and bringing yourself to a peaceful state, by doing this regularly, you will be able to start your game with one goal in mind and all your attention on what you are doing.
Avoid the Caffeine
While this may seem strange to some, caffeine is one of our favourite products to use for an energy boost, but it may actually cause an adverse reaction in your poker game.
Get in enough sleep; while this advice may seem obvious, some players think they can play well having had just a couple of hours of sleep. Then they want to overcompensate with caffeine which increases their anxiety and messes with their focus. I’m sure you can see where this cycle is going. So get some quality sleep – it really is as simple as that.
Don’t cram. This may be something you heard back in school. It was true then, and it’s still true now. Avoid cramming in a new strategy just before a game, and it may seem like a good idea at the beginning of a session. The problem is when you are mid-game and need to recall and implement, you hit a blank.
Just by following the suggestions above, you will be able to reduce external factors and focus more clearly on the game at hand. Remember always to have fun and enjoy the session or tournament as best as possible, even if things are not going your way. As they say, there is always room for improvement, no matter how good your game is.