Autopilot in Poker – How to Avoid Costly Mistakes
Last Updated: May 8, 2022
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If you’re playing poker every day for hours, keeping your brain dialed in for the duration of every session can be challenging.
It’s very common for poker players to start playing on autopilot and making decisions without really actively thinking about the moves they are making.
If you’ve found yourself autopiloting when playing poker or want to preemptively act on this, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve summed up a couple of poker-related tips and several non-poker-related tricks that will help you snap out of autopilot and regain focus.
Here are the best tips for avoiding playing on autopilot!
1. Think About Different Playing Scenarios
A simple way to turn off autopilot and stay tuned in for every hand you play is to constantly force your mind to come up with different ways how you can play the same scenario.
For example, let’s say that you find yourself in a typical three-bet situation with kings.
Instead of going down the usual route, think of how making a different decision, for instance, calling, will impact the hand.
This pushes your brain to stay in action all the time. Moreover, it will also sometimes help you find a better line that will ultimately result in more profit.
2. Talk to Yourself
This might sound silly at first, but it is a very effective method for keeping you concentrated on the game and focused on every decision you make.
Of course, this is something you can really only do in online poker, as you’d get a lot of looks if you do this at a live poker table.
There are several reasons why talking to yourself helps you avoid playing on autopilot.
Firstly, you’re forcing your brain to stay in action by speaking and commentating on the specific situation and what you’re planning on doing for every move.
Secondly and most importantly, speaking while playing makes your brain focus on what you’re saying.
In other words, your brain will subconsciously pick up on what you’re talking about, and you’ll be able to determine whether or not what you’re talking about is the best way to go about it in the specific situation.
So, if you start feeling that you’re starting to autopilot or just want to prevent it right off the bat, talking to yourself will keep your brain active and help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes.
3. Find a Way to Ground Yourself
Grounding techniques can also be very helpful if you feel that you’re starting to wander off and are playing on autopilot.
In simple words, these techniques are excellent and highly effective when you want to snap out of autopilot and focus on the poker hand happening in the present moment.
There are several ways to quickly ground yourself, most of which involve stimulating your senses with something that would suddenly wake up your brain.
For example, you can breathe in a strong essential oil fragrance, take a hard candy with an intense flavor, or simply do some stretches and shake up your body.
4. Practice Being Mindful
Mindfulness is a skill every poker player should master. This is because being mindful enables you to always stay aware of everything going on in the moment.
This can be very helpful if you’re often grinding poker games and making automated decisions that don’t involve a lot of mental energy.
For instance, a practical way to exercise mindfulness is to focus on your breathing. This doesn’t involve controlling your breathing, just being aware of every breath you inhale and exhale.
This can sometimes directly help you play better, as breathing exercises are also great for relieving tension and stress.
If you’re worried about autopiloting when playing poker, the four tips we’ve shared in this article can help you avoid this potentially detrimental habit.
Plus, as they are effortless and straightforward to implement, they can potentially make your poker experience even better.
If you turn off your brain’s autopilot mode, you’ll be able to find more creative opportunities and edges that will enable you to make more money over time, increase your hourly win rate or improve any other aspect you feel needs improving.