Poker is a Mental Game

Many years ago I used to be a very avid Chess player and reached a fair standard and represented my city on two occasions. However it is clear to me now that my game was severely limited in many key areas. Firstly I never received any structured coaching from anyone that was better than me. I read as many books as I could but that has many flaws attached to it. The main one is that you can go astray by simply misinterpreting the data or simply by reading too many conflicting opinions.

These days your edge is a lot thinner in many areas and so poker has become more of a mental game than it has ever been. Over the past few weeks I have started re-reading the books that I have at home on Zen which has acted as a sort of calmative on my psyche. I had been aware for some time that there had been something wrong with my game and it was clearly a mental issue. When your problems are mental and not technical then in many ways your problem is greater.

So I decided to attack my problems aggressively like I always do and at the levels that I play at (NL100) then I knew that my game was technically good enough. What the real problem was tended to be me not being patient enough during play and looking to over press. What my answer was I will reveal shortly but yet I was simply re-reading books that I had read many years ago. So it is clear that as poker players just like as in life then you are on a continual learning curve and new as well as old lessons have to be learned and re-learned.

I started to read books on Zen and its philosophy while playing poker and this really calmed me down. Many players would criticise this move because of the fact that you are not watching your opponents as closely. However if your mind isn’t right then everything else is built on sand and you simply will not make any money. While it has been early days, the past two sessions have seen a strong improvement in my mental state and there has been no undisciplined spewing within the past several thousand hands.

This is the key because it isn’t the number of sessions but the number of hands that you have played. In full ring then it is less critical to observe your opponents because of the fact that nearly all of your opponents will be playing tightly. Sometimes you just need to do something else within the game that keeps your mind in the game. If this means doing something else whilst playing (as strange as that sounds) then so be it.

This is a tactic that I have undertaken to do in the past and it worked well for me then. The next question is why if I knew the effectiveness of a certain tactic did I not continue to repeat it? That my friends is one of life’s great mysteries. Poker is a mental game because losses these days are much more difficult to get back.

 

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