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Top Tips to Help You Control Your Mental State When Playing Poker

Mental state and poker

5 minutes

Posted by: Ivan

On the face of it, poker may seem fairly simple, but it is in fact, one of the most complex games out there. This is because there are so many different elements to consider at all times, and the mental game is one of the biggest ones.

When I say mental game, I am referring to many things. From controlling your tilt after losing a big hand to playing your best game at all times, and folding hands for hours on end, the mental side of poker can be extremely exhausting.

If you ever want to become an elite poker player, you will have to work on your mental state as much as  on learning how to play your cards.

Years of experience have thought me how to control some of these things, but the truth is that there is never a full-proof solution to certain mental problems you will face when you play poker.

These are the best tips for handling the mental side of the game of poker, which I can tell you will definitely work if implemented properly and consistently.

5. Play Within Your Means

If you have ever played in a live poker game, you have probably seen people go on tilt, curse, hit the table, and display other emotional outbursts that are unfitting to a professional poker player.

More often than not, these outbursts are connected to the fact that losing a certain amount of money in a game will affect the player’s real-world existence in a more or less meaningful way.

If you are approaching the game seriously, you should be playing in games you are well bankrolled for, as this will help you not really care about losing or winning in a particular session.

On the other hand, even if you do understand variance and exactly how poker works, you may end up getting tilted if you lose half of your bankroll in an unlucky hand against a terrible poker player.

Being bankrolled for the game you are playing is not simply about having enough money to keep playing but also about not tilting when you are on a downswing. This is true for all forms of gambling, whether you’re playing poker or gambling online on a site like Hyperino casino.

4. Take Breaks While Playing

Whether you are winning or losing, taking occasional breaks during poker sessions is a good idea. There are valid reasons to take breaks both when winning and losing.

During the sessions that are going your way, taking a break will help you maintain a high level of focus. Take a short walk, have some coffee or a quick, nutritious bite, and return to the table with 100% focus.

Taking breaks while playing poker

When losing, taking a break can be beneficial in many ways. For one, you can analyze some poker hands in your head and figure out if you made mistakes or simply ran badly. In either case, you can come back to the table with a fresh outlook and playing your best game again.

What’s more, sometimes sitting at the table with the player who just beat you can be quite annoying. Players in live games tend to even be provocative after big hands. Stepping away can help avoid conflict both in your head and a possible verbal or physical one.

3. Think of the Long Run

Unless you have only been playing poker for a few weeks, you have probably seen your fair share of bad beats, coolers, and long losing stretches. Professional players understand that all of these are integral elements of the game of poker.

If you want to win in poker, you will only be able to guarantee that in the long run.

Any single poker session can go either way, both for the best and the worst player at the table.

Instead of looking at each individual hand and contemplating what will happen if you make a call or fold, you should consider how good that play is in the long run. After all, you will be in every situation many times in your career, and it’s critical that you make the best play every time.

If you lost a few buy-ins during a session, don’t worry about it. Not only can you win it all back in one big hand during that same session, but you will also have many more winning sessions in your life, and all the money will end up in the right place eventually.

2. Consider Session Length

We have all heard the likes of Tom Dwan and the Chinese high-rollers talk of their 48-hour sessions on televised poker shows, and I have personally seen people play poker for days without significant breaks.

The truth is that human beings are not programmed to function at a high level for that many hours. Whatever you believe it or not, there is no way to play great poker after 24 hours at the table.

Control poker sessions length

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a great game that's worth playing even when you are tired. That said, you should really only do this if there are players at the table who are donating their money without any consideration.

If you are playing in a game that has any kind of quality to it, you should probably quit after no more than 10 hours. This is the maximum time that most people can keep a clear head and keep making good decisions.

1. Learn About Variance and Deviations

The best way to beat tilt and keep playing good poker is to learn the science behind the variance in games like poker or backgammon.

Since it contains an element of luck, the results in poker will always come in swings. The bigger favorite you are in a game, the lesser the swings will be, but they will still come no matter what.

The more you learn about how poker variance works and keep it in the back of your head, the more you will be able to shrug off any bad beats or coolers and keep playing great poker at all times.

While other players may be talking about how they have lost “every hand” that night and how there is “no chance” for them to get it back, you will know exactly how likely it is for you to win in the session, and especially over the course of a month, year, or your lifetime!

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