Making a transition from online to live poker tables can be overwhelming. Even if you have years of online experience, you can find yourself in a tough spot very quickly, as live poker comes with an entirely new set of challenges.
Professional poker players you go up against at live poker tables are like sharks. They’ll smell your fear and anxiety and use it to their advantage.
To be more successful at No Limit Hold’em, you must beat the stress and nervousness that comes with it. On this page, you’ll find the best tips on how to overcome the fear of playing live poker.
Surmounting the Biggest Fears in Live Poker
Regardless of how technically sound and strategic you are, fear can completely dismantle your poker game. It’s instinctual, something you can’t prepare for or eliminate when you sit down at your first live poker table.
But, being aware of it before you play your first live game will allow you to recognize the problem and act on it. There are three major fears that are limiting your potential in live poker:
The Fear of Money
Although you shouldn’t be playing poker just for the prizes, money is undoubtedly a driving force of the industry. And, as such, it comes with an aura of fear and pressure.
The fear of money is particularly present if you’re betting large amounts or if you’ve managed to reach the latter stages of a poker tournament.
This is when most players usually start doubting their decisions and worrying about how one wrong choice can cost them the main prize.
Just keep in mind that the player you’re going up against is in the exact same situation.
He might also be sweating and fearing losing the money he’s come so close to. If you manage to control your fear of money and turn it against your opponent, you can control outcomes with much greater success.
If you still lose at the end, bear in mind that you won’t go home empty-handed. Coming in second can still be very lucrative.
The Fear of Losing
It doesn’t matter how skilled or experienced you are. The fear of losing can come anytime out of the blue.
Although the fear of loss can help you make rational decisions, letting it overwhelm you will hold you back, block your mind, and often cause you to lose quicker.
The best way to deal with the fear of losing is to accept it. In truth, this is the only way.
While it may sound counterproductive to say that you should learn to lose, it’s a simple fact. This is because, even as a pro, you won’t win the vast majority of the tournaments, and you’ll often be on the losing end of individual hands.
The key to success comes in understanding this and focusing your efforts on tournaments and poker hands in which you have the chance of winning.
If you lose, you’ve lost. Don’t dwell on the results of the hand alone. Instead, focus your energy on analyzing your decision-making process and improving it for the future.
If your goal is to simply have fun, other casino games can have even better payout percent than poker, so you should take this game seriously and focus on the things you can actually influence.
The Fear of Embarrassment
One of the biggest fears poker players have, especially those just starting, is the fear of embarrassment.
No one wants to look dumb in front of other people, particularly when a foolish mistake can cost you real money.
That said, the fear of embarrassment is mostly unfounded and certainly something you shouldn’t allow to influence your decisions.
No matter how hard you try, the chances are high that you’ll sometimes make a silly mistake. With that in mind, you should focus only on making the right decision.
If you think a particular play is correct, don’t let the fear of embarrassment prevent you from putting yourself in a good spot.
It’s important to mention that self-awareness is a vital part of being successful in poker. Being aware of what you’re doing and understanding your behavior patterns will help you improve and become a more formidable opponent.
The best advice to keep in mind when it comes to this is getting over it and not locking yourself in your mind.
The Importance of Building up Confidence
Every poker player goes through phases of insecurity. But, it’s how you come out at the end of it is what matters.
It’s normal to have doubts about your hand or whether the other player has something on you, but you should never let yourself fall into a pattern of anxiety.
Build self-confidence on your good plays, as well as your errors, and cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement.
Besides building up your shape mentally and emotionally, getting physically in shape can also play an essential role in becoming more successful at live poker.
As this is a sedentary game, poker decreases your physical health the more you play it. Being more active and exercising in your free time can significantly help you develop stamina and a sound poker mind that will be tough to crack.
A Quick Sum Up
Overcoming the fear of playing live poker can be difficult, especially if you’re an anxious person by nature.
The best answer to this problem is experience. The only way to overcome the fear of playing live poker is to push through it until you feel comfortable around the tables.
In most cases, the fear comes up as an unfounded projection in your head. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
You’ll either win or lose money at the end of the day. Nothing will happen to you or anyone else at the table, especially if you employ good bankroll management.
You own your thoughts and feelings, which is why you should control them. You can’t be afraid of losing or embarrassing yourself, as these things will only distract you from the main reason you came to play.
Remember that you came to win, so make sure to bring your best game to the poker table, as that's all you can really do on any given session!