Thinking Like a Poker Pro – Expert Tips by Fedor Holz
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The harsh reality of poker is that most of your days will be losing days if you’re a tournament player. Over the course of my career, I lost money on about 80% of the days I played.
I’ve played thousands of tournaments and millions of poker hands, both live and online, and the most frequent scenario I had to deal with was getting up from the table and booking a loss.
This can have a big impact on your mindset, and it’s something you can’t avoid.
So, the key to becoming a professional poker player is learning how to deal with this often seemingly cruel reality of the game and not allow it to bring you down.
Changing the Perspective
One trap that’s easy to fall into is to focus on the results, constantly thinking about how much money you won or lost.
Over time, however, I was able to get out of that frame of mind, and I now focus on the decision instead!
I decided to focus on smaller decisions and optimize the value of each of them. Over the course of your career, you’ll make millions of small investment decisions.
When to call, when to fold, when to go for a raise – every single move you make at the poker tables is a small investment decision on its own.
So, I switched my attention to optimizing the results of these decisions instead of fixating on the outcome that is often beyond your control. This helped me get out of the negative loop that prevented me from moving forward.
One example of this negative loop that I often mention was 2015, one of the worst years of my career. I put too much pressure on myself, creating goals along the lines of how much money I wanted to win.
It took me nine months to realize that I needed to focus on the positive things instead. I achieved that by focusing on individual decisions: did I make the correct call in a given spot, or how was my overall performance in this tournament?
All of a sudden, I was having 80% winning days, not monetarily, but in terms of what I was paying attention to.
I was playing well and making good decisions for the majority of the time. The only “losing” days were when I wasn’t playing my best.
Focus on the Path, and Results Will Follow
If you take this approach to the game, you can rest assured that the results you’re hoping for will come eventually.
Poker was designed this way on purpose. If this weren’t the case and no variance was involved, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to play for high stakes and win money.
If you strive to be a professional poker player, you simply have to accept this fact and learn to deal with the variance and everything that comes with it.
Focus on the areas you can influence: your decisions, your career path, and the bigger picture. This mindset is the key to becoming a better professional player!
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