Preparation is Important in Life and Poker
Poker is a tough game. You’ll be challenged overtly and covertly on every hand. Being well-prepared for the many challenges is a big part of successfully climbing the poker mountain so that you win a lot more than you lose. Preparation can at times be far from obvious.
Expect Less than 100%
Players come to Juicy Stakes Poker to play poker AND TO WIN! No one can make the right decisions on every hand! This means that no matter how well you play a hand you will lose some unlosable hands!
Players who are not well prepared for the unavoidable bad beat might change their approach to the game. The importance of self-discipline in this area and in every area of poker cannot be understated!
Perfection is a Figment of the Imagination
This is a corollary to the first statement. We all make mistakes. We forget; we calculate incorrectly; we read opponents incorrectly; we lose concentration and focus; we get tired.
So, perfection is a condition that we cannot attain. But seeking perfection with a healthy emotional attitude is a good way to approach poker.
Preparation Involves Learning to Deal with Frustration
There are two main ways poke players experience frustration:
- We can get bad cards on hand after hand.
- We can lose even when we get good cards.
The single most devastating condition any poker player can experience is tilt. Saying damn after a bad beat is not tilt! Tilt is like a sinkhole into which first your car and then your house falls! If that were to happen, you would probably say something a lot stronger than damn!
Find the Best Way to Stay Calm
There are many ways to achieve poker without tilt. Everyone should actively seek out the best way for them. Some find it in deep breathing. Daniel Negreanu is a chatterbox at the poker table. In strictly poker terms, one excellent way to avoid tilt and to learn to withstand all of the slings and arrows poker will throw at you is to play WELL WITIN YOUR MEANS.
If you can afford to play in a game where the blinds are multiples of $10, then go ahead and do so. You have to expect to lose a hand and a pot that might have put you in very good shape financially for that session. If losing such a hand, makes you want to put your hand through a glass door, it means that you are playing above your means.
We should never belittle emotion. Emotion has an honored place in everyday life; but emotion should not have an honored place at the poker table.
Set Time Limits
In addition to playing within your financial means, you should play at your temporal means. It is a mistake to play longer than you can. We all have limitations on our ability to concentrate and focus. We can also teach ourselves to play for longer periods of time but this is a learned skill.
If 30 minutes is your poker limit, then play for 30 minutes. The reward will be that you will be fully concentrated. This is exactly the frame of mind you need to consider yourself prepared to play poker.
Setting time limits on poker points to one of the many advantages of playing poker online. When you play online, you have no ancillary costs. You can come and go as you wish. You can play every day or once a week. When you play on land, there will naturally be a tendency to play for longer stretches of time since you probably won’t be coming back this way soon!
To Thine Own Self be True
Shakespeare wrote this line 400 years ago and it still has great meaning. Poker players MUST tell themselves the truth. This may involve stakes, time limits, and mistakes over the table or aspects of your play that others can read easily.
There is no better preparation for poker than to go over a list of tactics and strategies that honestly reflect your skill level!
Criticism is Good until it’s Bad.
This is the reverse side of the previous insight. Too much self-criticism is not good. A pianist who hates herself whenever she makes a mistake will lkely never improve enough to satisfy her. Piano playing then becomes a negative force in her life! The sane applies to self-criticism in poker!
The Physical Side of Poker
Poker is a mental game that requires excellent physical conditioning. Just as we should not belittle emotion, we must never belittle the physical side of poker. Here are a few headlines from the physical side of poker that will lead to better poker:
- Eat correctly
- Sleep well
- Stay hydrated
- Develop deep breathing techniques
- Take vitamin and mineral supplements
- Learn to enjoy and savor the quiet moments
Everybody is different so you have to experiment to find the best amount of sleep or the best diet for yourself. Some people thrive on intermittent fasting while others eat 6 small meals a day!
Observe People All the Time
Ernest Hemingway said that a novelist needed to plot out his or her story and then to put in everything they knew about people! Watching people is a massively important method of preparation for playing poker!
The little insights you observe when you watch people ”just walking by”, at the supermarket, or waiting in line at the movies will help you identify quirks that we all have and that you can then use to your advantage.
Decide What You are Willing to Give Up
In order to make giant strides as a poker player, you will need to spend a lot more time on poker. As we said before, you should also set time limits on your play but that doesn’t mean that you should set a time limit on doing the things you need to do to become a better player!
That means that you will have to give something up! A colleague tells about a friend he had in college who was trying to become a master in chess. He said that in order to get to that level in chess he had to give up his entire social life! We suggest giving up a lot less! Here are three ideas:
- Stop watching sports on television (or watch less)
- Stop surging the internet (or surf less)
- Stop using social media (or use social media less)
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