How to Become a Better Player
Tons of sites talk about poker strategy as THE most important factor in getting better at poker. We agree that learning strategy will make you better. Still, we also know there are many other factors that go into poker success. In this Juicy Stakes Poker review we'll cover those factors.
Attitude and Mindset
We cover this ground quite often but it is such a huge area of importance that we can come back to it very often and never run out of insightful observations to talk about.
Attitude and mindset are like twins. They have their roots in the same source of positivity but they diverge at some point. (We won’t talk about attitude and mindset having the same source in negativity for obvious reasons) Attitude is more about the here and now. The many ways we can learn to avoid tilt belong to attitude more than to mindset although it has elements of both.
Mindset is more about cultivating healthy ways of thinking. Proper money management is more a matter of mindset than attitude. In this example attitude would simply say that you want to conserve your bankroll while also playing aggressively whenever possible. Mindset is teaching yourself how to nurse your bankroll. In a very real sense, mindset is more about the philosophical and long range approach to poker while attitude is more about the moment.
Trust Your Natural Intelligence
The term intelligence is much abused and misunderstood these days. In the context of making yourself a better poker player, intelligence is not about reading and understanding Kant. It is about recognizing that you possess a fount of natural intelligence.
If you focus your natural intelligence on poker, you will become a better poker player. Natural intelligence has many aspects. One aspect is the ability to recognize personality types. Every single one of your opponents is a personality type. There is a lot of overlap in personality types. The internet is full of tests to determine your personality type and they all show a great deal of overlap in types. One person may be 60% extroverted and another may test out at 65% introverted. Your natural intelligence can give you a hint as to what your opponents are thinking about.
Natural intelligence can only give you a hint but that hint can earn or save a great deal of money. We first have to trust our natural intelligence and then we have to nurture it, cultivate it, feed it data, and generally put our natural intelligence in a position to grow and develop.
How can we do all this?
Take Vacations in Foreign Countries
We have said in the past that a good reason to play poker at an online poker room instead of at a land based poker room is because the travel money you save can be used to pay for a “real vacation”.
Here we have one of many good reasons to go on a real vacation! In this context, taking a vacation in which the overwhelming majority of the people you will encounter and interact with will be people from you own cultural background is less valuable than taking a vacation in a country where almost no one shares your cultural background.
The world is a giant oyster and we, as poker players, can learn a great deal about people by experiencing many different cultures. Online poker is a worldwide phenomenon so you will be playing against players from everywhere. Going to “everywhere” and paying attention to the people there will enrich your natural intelligence.
There are so many countries so you can’t possibly visit even a large plurality of them. Still, allowing yourself to learn about people from other cultures will help you even if you find yourself playing against a player from a culture that is totally foreign to you.
Learn a Second Language
This is especially important for Americans who are famous for not knowing a second language. This is changing, of course, as Spanish, among several other languages, is gaining prominence in the United States. Still, learning a second language opens up a vast trove of literature, music lyrics, movie dialogue and simple exposure to a different way of thinking.
You don’t have to become totally fluent in a language. It is better to learn the linguistic highlights of a foreign language than to learn the subtle turns of phrase in the literature of that language. If you can learn some of the modern and classic slang in a language, you should be able to gain some insight into an opponent for whom that language is his or her mother tongue.
Learning song lyrics is another way to gain some insight into other cultures. And since you will be playing against a lot of people from other cultures, learning some elements of their native language can only help you understand them better. As we said at the start, mindset is a very important aspect of becoming a better poker player and this is a two way street.
We should do as much as we can to gain insight into the mindset of our opponents.
Become a Hail Fellow Well Met
It is likely that every culture or language group has a term to describe this personality type. Here we are talking about someone who likes to talk with others, to interact with them even at a superficial level, and to enjoy small talk even for very short periods of time.
Natural salespeople have this trait as an inherent part of their nature. Most of us have to learn to enjoy talking with strangers. Many people never learn to enjoy it. Poker players run the gamut just as average people in every walk of life do. Still, for a poker player to get better, it is very important to learn the art of small talk, of short “conversations” with strangers, and of showing genuine interest in what they have to say.
One of the best ways to learn this skill is to talk to people whose job it is to talk to strangers. The travel industry is peopled by this type of person. The best tour guides, travel agents, hotel desk clerks, tourist center workers, restaurant wait staff, and so on are people who, either naturally or through experience, are very comfortable having many very short conversations with many people almost all of whom are strangers.
The next time you go into an ice cream shop in a different city or country, pay attention to the level of enjoyment the ice cream server has talking about the flavors and the many products there. When you pay attention, you might be amazed! For us as poker players, anything we can do to effect even very small improvements in our game can and will result in more wins, larger wins, and a lot more fun playing poker.
Wow! There is still So Much to Say on this Subject!
We will return to this subject as many times as we need to in order to explore all of the nuances of the concept of attitude and mindset and how to become a better poker player apart from learning strategy and poker math!