Master Your Mindset: 5 Simple Steps That Will Help You
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Many poker players see mindset as a mystical thing that can’t be controlled, yet it is very far from the truth. If you put some effort and do not leave everything to chance, you can boost your results more than you think simply by learning a few “soft skills” along the poker strategy side.
Luckily, learning the basics is pretty easy. Today, I want to share a couple of things that drastically helped me to master my mindset, and was the breaking point of my career. Even though it took me a lot of time to learn it, I will try to make it as easy as possible for you.
Embrace the reality
“Understanding what you can and can’t control is the first step for any successful poker player.”
If you can’t distinguish these two areas, you will not be successful in this game, and likely will not be able to control your emotions.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is variance. Many players do not embrace this part and constantly get angry after a bad beat, which is quite funny when you think about it.
In reality, the variance is the only thing that keeps recreational players coming back and gives the illusion that they can win in the long run. If you fully embrace it, then there is no way that a bad run can cause you tilt because you understand that it is meant to happen sooner or later.
The same could be said about your goals in poker. You have no control over the profit part, but you can control how many hands or tournaments you are going to play.
It perfectly illustrates that you can approach everything from different sides, and concentrating on areas that you can control will surely yield you better results.
Concentrate on what really matters
When you embrace reality and understand what you can control, it is easy to concentrate on the right things. For starters, you should not count your short term results, and instead, do the following:
“Look at every hand as a separate event and try to make the best possible decision in every single spot.”
When you build this habit, it will be very easy to control your emotions and have a better mindset whenever you play.
On top of that, you will easily see your mistakes and learn how to improve when playing consciously, so all of this will lead to better results.
Follow your bankroll
Another vital part that can influence your mindset is poker bankroll.
“If you do not know how to manage your money, you will not be successful in poker. As simple as that.”
Therefore, you should always play with a sufficient bankroll so that small swings will not evoke your emotions, and you could concentrate on making the right decisions.
Few other things, I highly recommend:
- Keep your poker bankroll separately from everyday cash
- Do not withdraw too much money
- Invest a part of your winnings in your education
Control your emotions and playing time
It is obvious that you should not start playing when you are tired or feel any negative emotions, but it is equally important to learn when to quit.
“One thing that I highly recommend for my students is not to have a stop/loss limit.”
Since edges are getting smaller and smaller, it naturally leads to bigger short term swings, and if you stop playing every time you lose a couple of buy-ins, you might not find the time to play at all, and it will kill your long-term winnings.
Instead, learn to recognize new emotions – if you start feeling distracted, lose your concentration or stop playing your A-game, you should not continue to play, but not because you won or lost a couple of buy-ins. If you have trouble noticing it while playing, set up an alarm clock to go every 15 minutes (or 30 minutes, depending on your situation). When you hear the sound, you will know that you have to evaluate your emotions and decide if you can continue to play.
Over time, you will build a habit to notice these changes naturally and efficiently control your playing time.
Master basic things
“Players tend to discuss and analyze crazy river check/raising spots that rarely comes up, but do not want to put enough time to master preflop ranges, even though they need it in every single hand.”
While this is just an example, I believe that the easiest way to free up some mental space is to master simple things to the level of unconscious competence.
Jared Tendler describes it as the level of knowledge where you know something so good that you do not even need to think about it.
Grabbing a good preflop chart could be a great start. Just like I mentioned before, you face a preflop decision in every single hand, so mastering these ranges and learning how to adjust it versus different opponents can preserve a lot of your mental energy.
Naturally, you will not get tired so easily and can make better decisions in harder situations where you actually need that thinking power.
While it may look like simple tips, it helped me a lot.
Many players do not realize how important the mindset is in poker and start researching the topic only after a huge downswing. Do not be one of these players, and make sure to do all you can to gain an additional edge and control your emotions!
Tadas Peckaitis runs mypokercoaching.com and is a contributor to many other poker sites