How to Build Proper Motivation for Your Poker Sessions

motivation in poker

5 minutes

Last Updated: October 3, 2021

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Whether you play poker online or live, and whether you are a professional or semi-professional player, maintaining a good motivation for your sessions can be challenging at times.

Poker can be a heartbreaking game on so many occasions, with bad beats, coolers, and losing streaks often breaking the will of even the most patient players.

For that reason, it is important to go in with a good plan if you plan on playing poker on a regular basis. A plan for maintaining your motivation levels is just as crucial as a plan for how you are going to play your hands.

In this guide, I've put together some key steps to building and maintaining proper motivation for your poker sessions. These tips are based on my own experience and the experience of other players who have been around for years.

Keep reading and find out the tricks that top poker players use to keep motivated and break away from the heartbreaks and disappointments that poker tends to bring.

Treat Poker like a Job

One of the first steps to being a good poker player at all and building up the much-needed motivation for poker is to look at poker the same way you would look at any other job you were doing.

If you want to be a pro or even make a side income from poker, you will need to approach it very seriously and view it as a job. This means you will have a schedule, a plan, and a set of expectations you are looking to meet.

Treat poker like a job

Primarily, you should make sure to have a relatively fixed schedule for your play. Playing at random times can cause much stress, as playing too short or too long sessions is never a good idea.

If you want to really build your confidence and motivation, I highly recommend going into it with a fixed schedule and a plan on how you want to build up your poker career.

By having preset goals and ideas on how you want your poker career to progress, you will know just how you are doing and how far you have come.

It is also important to keep practicing and getting better, so make sure you fit in some study sessions every week as well. Going into a new session with new information and some new poker tips can be just the extra motivation you need.

Understand Variance

If there is one thing that kills the motivation of many poker players, it is variance! Poker is a game of skill, but the luck element always exists in the short run, and it can break the wills of players who are not prepared for it.

The best way to prepare yourself for the variance in poker is to understand it fully before you start playing at all.

This means you should decide which type of poker you want to play and then learn all about the standard deviation and possible swings in that particular game.

For example, if you plan on playing multi-table tournaments, you should be prepared for big swings both ways, depending on how much of a favorite you are in the games you choose to enter.

On the other hand, the variance will be lower in heads-up games, assuming you are actually a winning player against the field you are competing with.

I highly recommend learning as much about variance as you possibly can and going into the games prepared for the best and worst-case scenarios at the same time.

I also suggest you try to be honest with yourself and rather underestimate your abilities than overestimate them when planning for future swings. This will allow you to be pleasantly surprised when things go better than you ever expected.

Remember to Keep Score

While the famous poker song may claim you should never count your money when you’re sitting at the table, keeping score will be one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated.

When things are going well, you will be able to see your poker bankroll grow, and this alone should be a good motivation to keep you going and focused.

If you are on a downswing, you should still keep score. Remember my previous tip and think about whether your losses are within the score of normal variance.

Of course, this does not mean you should give up on improving your game. In fact, if you are losing, you should always reflect back on your sessions and see what you could have done differently to make your results better.

Work on Your Physical and Mental Health

Motivation for poker cannot be completely separated from your everyday motivation for success in life. This requires you to be in a good mental state, as well as at least reasonable physical shape.

Poker motivation and physical fitness

If you are going to play poker and spend many hours sitting down at the table or your computer, you should also make sure to spend some time on exercise. These things will help you live a more balanced lifestyle.

Your mental state will be even more important in terms of remaining motivated to play poker. To help with this, there are many tools you can use.

A mobile app you can download to your phone called Primed Mind is loaded with tools designed to help you reach your maximum potential in a mental sense.

Through meditation and other techniques it offers, you can reach a state of mind in which you will be fully motivated and prepared to take on the challenges that every day will be throwing at you.

This kind of mental training works for poker players but also for other professionals looking to build focus and motivation to get better results in their professions.

Think About the Future

Last but not the least, you should always keep your eyes on the prize, and in this case, your prize is the future you have always wanted to have, which you can get through poker.

While grinding your way up the stakes, remember that all the grind has a final goal of building a bankroll that will sustain the dreams you have for your future.

When the going gets rough, feel free to look up motivational videos on YouTube or use other tools that will remind you that good things come to those who have the patience to wait them out.

The closer you get to your goals, the better you will feel about all the hard work you had to put in and the sweat and tears you spilled over the time you built your poker bankroll from infancy to greatness.

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