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As a gamer of skill, poker is a competition.  As much as luck is a factor, skill far outweighs luck as a precursor of winning.  The question, then, is what kind of competition is involved in poker?  Juicy Stakes Poker says that poker is a fierce competition over decisions.

Decision-making is a Learned Skill

In all areas of life, there are some people who can make decisions quickly, some who take a long time to come to a decision, and some who never really feel comfortable with any decision they have made.

At Juicy Stakes, we try to help all of our many poker players to develop the skills they will need to win more often than they will lose!

What are a Few Basic Poker Skills?

In poker, we can learn the math, we can learn the importance of observation, we can learn the strategic importance of position, and many other factors that go into a single betting decision.

There is an insight that most new poker players and even many experienced players have not yet fully learned: all of the skill we have acquired over tine playing poker are necessary on every decision!

What are the Decisions Poker Players Have to Choose From?

Here we will give you a list and you will surely find the last item on the list to be a surprise:

  1. Raise
  2. Call
  3. Check
  4. Fold
  5. Control your emotions!

The first four are obvious but elaborating the last item on this list is the purpose of this article.

Is Controlling One’s Emotions Really a Skill?

Very much, so!

Have you ever noticed that babies cry when they want or need something?  Even after kids learn to talk, they often resort to crying to get attention or just to get their way in a given situation!

Crying in a baby is natural.  Crying when we are in physical or emotional pain is also quite natural, but crying as a first resort in the effort to get someone to do something g for us or to give us something we want is a learned action.

The Poker Equivalent of Crying is Tilt

We read in almost every book or article on poker that we have to learn to avoid tilt.  That’s because tilt is the natural end product of the learned response of crying that we did so well when we were much younger!

It can be said that controlling our emotions in poker is as important if not more important than money management and knowing the book advice about a given situation.

The book will tell you how to bet pocket queens which are far less valuable than pocket kings which, themselves, are far less valuable than pocket aces!  You get pocket queens and bet by the book.  On the river, a player sitting with deuces and either a straight draw or a flush draw, gets a third deuce and wins the pot!

Do you tilt or do you shrug it off and get back to observing, processing, and playing the very next hand?  If you “lose” the edge to play a few subsequent hands correctly, you might actually stay in a hand that you should fold out of and lose more money.

The first loss of pocket queens losing to three deuces is truly a matter of poker luck.  Tilting and losing on the next few hands is entirely the result of not fully learning the skill of emotional management!

Life is More than Poker

To any professional, be he or she a professional poker player, a medical professional, a college professor, or a carpenter, plumber, truck driver or baseball park usher, being skilled at one’s profession is not something that comes naturally.

We have to cultivate our professions.  Musicians practice scales because without proficiency in the scales, they will not be able to play anything well much less a complex musical piece.

Chefs have to practice the arts of cutting and chopping.  They have to experiment endlessly with different combinations of herbs and spices.

Obsessions are Obsessive

In short, life is far more than just poker as it is far more than reading the latest medical journal or practicing a classical piece for the umpteenth time.

Any activity can become an obsession and poker is no different than medicine or music.

The art of controlling your emotions in any activity—be it poker, driving in heavy traffic, or trying to get the kids to finally go to sleep—is to prevent over-emotionality from becoming an obsession.

A workaholic is obsessive about work.  A person who exercises without end is obsessive about exercise.  In poker, obsessiveness results in tilt which begets poor decision making which begets increasing losses and more tilt.  That first semi-moment when you feel a tilt coming on is when you have to nip it in the bud.  If you don’t, the bud can grow into the “plant” in the classic show and movie “Little Shop of Horrors”.

Just as the plant has to be fed non-stop, so does tilt.

How to Get into an Opponent’s Head

One of the best ways to deal with the ever-present specter of tilt is to try to get inside your opponents’ heads.  As such, if you can make a game out of confusing your opponents, you can much better avoid tilt in yourself.

When you can make confusing opponents a major aspect of your own poker skill, you can then concentrate more freely on your own decisions.  Remember, we defined poker as a competition in decision making.

So, how does a good poker player confuse opponents?

  1. Bluffing is the sine qua non of excellent poker.  Many players are afraid to bluff but bluffing at the right time is a fantastic way to confuse opponents.
  2. Making eye contact when the pot is small and you aren’t bluffing.  If you do that effectively, it will surely confuse an opponent when you make eye contact when you are bluffing.
  3. Learn how to check-raise.
  4. Bet with a determined air of confidence.  This is the ploy that amateurs have used against Phil Helmuth unbeknownst to them and him and it triggers tilt!
  5. In a word, mix it up!  The book is simply a preliminary expression of poker basics but it is far from the whole story.

Where Can I Learn the Whole Story?

Here at Juicy Stakes Poker!  We offer many variations of poker that challenge every ounce of skill and are fun to play at the skill and stakes levels best suited to your means.

So, get started NOW by joining Juicy Stakes Poker!


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