Top 5 Ways to Improve your Poker Results without Drilling the Strategy
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The image of the professional poker player is a fixed one in the public consciousness. Cool, unflappable, emotionless, and as dedicated to statistics as any competent mathematician.
Of course, many of these traits are necessary ones. For example, being able to maintain an exterior of calm even when your insides are swirling themselves into knots is one of the poker player’s greatest tricks – and something admired even by people outside the hobby.
However, there are plenty of ways to improve your poker game without having to delve into strategy or spend time glaring at a family member across the dinner table. In fact, you may not need to touch the cards at all to improve your chances of success at the felt.
With the usual reminder that there’s no such thing as a foolproof method to ‘beat’ the game we all love, here are some tiny tricks to help you out in your next game.
1. Soothe your Mind First
Work, bills, commuting, and many other concerns of the modern world can lay siege to our subconscious over the course of a week. Even at home, in front of the TV, moments of peace can be hard to find.
Increasingly, though, alternative therapies are helping people soothe away their concerns. Meditation is practiced by 26% of Brits, according to private healthcare provider BUPA, with more men (30%) finding peace in mindfulness than women (18%).
Meditation improves concentration and can help reduce anxieties after a bad beat. Poker-pro Daniel Negreanu recommends that stressed-out players take a handful of deep breaths – and that’s all there is to it.
Over time, though, meditation can train the brain to separate day-to-day worries from the active, poker-playing part.
It’s entirely up to you whether you want to meditate for hours or just to take a quick breather. Newcomers, try downloading a guided meditation app on your iOS or Android device.
2. Find the Game that Works for You
In all industries, competition breeds quantity and quality in various measures. For poker players, the sheer volume of sites out there has encouraged providers to experiment with their offerings to attract eager customers.
The obvious variants are Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and 7-Card Stud, among others, but games can also be played in fast-fold formats, with randomly assigned prize-pools, and with limited hands.
Perhaps even more important, though, is how you play. The SuperSeven casino site claims that more people now play on mobile than on desktop PCs. Thus, poker fans should be hunting down sites that are optimized to their fullest capacity across all devices and operating systems.
Google recently relaxed its rules on gambling apps on the Play Store, too, meaning that there are few excuses left for poker companies to lack dedicated mobile software.
3. Put on Your Running Shoes
One of the biggest surprises that came out of the eSports – or competitive video gaming – the trend was just how much time these sit-down competitors spend at the gym.
Performance manager Jake Middleton claims that regular physical exercise can improve a raft of brain functions, including attention, learning speed, and hand-eye coordination.
However, it doesn’t matter whether you have a keyboard or a poker hand in front of you – exercise can improve your game.
Even if you don’t want to risk the delicate poker machine you’ve created inside your head, movement can reduce a number of conditions associated with a more sedentary style of play, such as back pain and obesity.
It can also give you more energy to get through marathon sessions and serve as an outlet for players prone to raging and tilting. It won't cure all that ails you or your game, but exercise is a proven problem-solver in many aspects of life.
4. It's Your Game. Take Responsibility
A “quasi-experimental” study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies back in 2013 attempted to make the point that poker is purely a game of chance and blind luck rather than the skillful hobby we all know it to be.
However, the paper, written by Meyer et al., glossed over the fact that poker is a game played by humans. Why does this matter? Emotion, attitudes, and personalities can all influence how the game pans out.
You won’t win every poker game – even the pros don’t. How you respond to bad beats, coolers, and consecutive defeats will decide the length of your poker career and whether you’ll be able to make the transition from casual online play to true tournament poker.
Learn self-awareness, try to understand why you’re losing with such solid hands, and don’t blame your opponents. If you haven't started already, keeping a journal of your various adventures at the felt can shine a more objective light on your playing style.
5. Make Connections – On or Offline
Granted, not everybody is a social butterfly, and trying to make friends at work or university can be a chore with more than a few pitfalls. There are always opportunities to put your feet in your mouth at the work Christmas party, for instance.
However, increasing the number of poker friends in your network is an easy way to improve your game.
Like-minded people tend to create opportunities to do their favorite things, after all. The question that needs to be answered, though, is where do all these poker people hang out?
If you have all the social graces of a cranky crocodile, don't despair. Seek out Discord and Twitch channels online, Facebook groups, poker forums, or even relevant store pages on social media, where you can discuss various books and products.
Offline, bars, community centers, and universities sometimes run their own poker nights. While these might be serious competitions, they’re usually open to anybody who knows how to play.
Overall, poker is a game that is as much mental as it is physical, and training the body, mind, and your social engines as a whole can lay the groundwork for learning the more strategic elements of the game.