Remaining atop in poker is difficult; it needs a lot of commitment, resolve, and most importantly, mental strength. Improving your mental strength is among the most effective ways of getting an edge over your competitors. After all, very few players have mastered their mental game.
The mental aspect of poker is, however, criminally overlooked by both novice and experienced players. Even though it's not as glamorous as game theory and the more technical aspects of the game, it can have a huge impact on your results. According to the expert poker players of Beasts Of Poker, mental game is what separates the best players from the average. To be among the best, you have to develop your mental toughness.
Mental toughness helps top-tier poker players navigate the game's ups and downs, bring their A-game, and win more money. With mental toughness you can be:
- Calm under pressure: You welcome challenges and overcome them with minimal fuss.
- Focused: Your concentration levels are high; you can play for long periods without getting your eyes off the game.
- Confident: You believe in your abilities, and your confidence grows with each game.
Luckily, with some practice, you can cultivate this mental aspect of the game. Developing it allows you to make sound decisions, focus fully on your opponents. As a result, you can walk away from the table with more money in your pockets! Let's take a look at five effective tips that can help you improve your mental game:
Develop your routine
Poker is mentally draining. To constantly be on your A-game, you have to prepare adequately for every session. Developing an effective pre-game routine helps you prepare for each session as it comes.
In your routine, first, clear all distractions. According to recent studies, being around your smartphone affects your focus negatively. Even when switched off, your phone can make you lose focus, distracting you from your poker game. Worse yet, receiving a notification can take you out of your game completely.
To prevent this, eliminate any possible distractions -- switch off your TV, close all browser tabs, and discard any other devices. Other things you can include in your routine are:
- Do some simple exercises -- this helps control stress and improve brainpower.
- Go through your notes from previous study sessions -- this helps direct your focus to the upcoming game.
To manage your tilt, you first have to examine your emotions when playing. Records the events and circumstances that impair your performance. Keeping these records will help you boost your self-awareness.
With these notes, you can use the "injecting logic" process to improve your mental game. Come up with a few logic statements -- these are statements designed to help you eliminate negative emotions and cultivate a positive mindset. For instance, when you're on a losing streak, you can tell yourself that even the best players have to bear with variance.
Get enough sleep
Naturally, after a sleepless night, you might feel distracted, fuzzy, and off your mental poker game. When you don't sleep for enough hours, your attention span dwindles, your reaction time increases, and your responses to signals slow down.
You require at least 7 hours of sleep to perform at your peak during a session. So while accumulating 10+ hours on poker may win you some money, it hampers your improvement. On top of that, your memory declines, meaning you won't be able to recall your opponent's moves or the brilliant strategy that rewarded you in the past.
Most people associate meditation with Buddhist monks and hippies, thinking it's an activity for the super-religious. But meditation can improve your game tenfold if you implement it correctly. Adding meditation to your off-table practice helps you pay attention to the current hand so you can make a strong read.
Meditation can also come in handy in study sessions, helping you grasp strategy concepts easily and preventing your mind from wandering. It also helps you in life generally by:
- Cultivating stress-reducing skills.
- Boosting self-awareness.
- Controlling negative emotions
Improve your nutrition
Your brain covers only 2% of the entire body but keeps millions of tasks running, in a single day. Failing to take care of it can ruin your memory and concentration. Fortunately, your brain only needs a few fixes for it to perform at an optimal level. The easiest way to do this is to eat the right food types.
Eating well helps you stay in your A-game at the poker table. While there's no rule of thumb on what diet all poker players should follow, getting the right balance of macro and micronutrients strengthens your mental game. Also, adding vegetables such as leafy greens helps in getting rid of congestion hence facilitating clear thinking.
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