We all know that poker is a game of skill, where the best players among us have thousands of hours of practice that helped them get to where they are today.
What we tend to underestimate, however, are the less obvious components that play into poker success.
Rushing ahead without addressing these elements can be akin to building a house on a shaky foundation. Your game might look good, but it could also crumble down unexpectedly and quite catastrophically.
Taking a look beneath the surface of the poker game, we want to examine the more personal elements one can develop to improve their play.
These might seem silly, but ask any professional player, and they'll tell you the same thing; success is about more than just crunching numbers at the table.
Keeping a Clear Mind
Poker isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. Just like a regular marathon, going into a long session unprepared is a recipe for disaster.
For this reason, the foremost ability that poker players need to develop revolves around concentration and keeping a clear mind.
Rather than attempting to brute force this at the table, it's best to practice at home. You can then extrapolate from that experience and apply it to real games.
Methods for keeping a clear mind vary, but many of them tie into methods of meditation. This particular technique is designed to be performed at a desk. Thus, it could easily be translated to a casino environment.
For those completely unaware of meditation techniques, you might want to start with a beginner's guide. This will help you get more accustomed to the experience, develop expectations, and set realistic goals.
This might seem contradictory, but it can take some serious effort to learn how to relax properly through meditation. Yes, even relaxing can be hard work.
The other side of this problem comes from the ever-present danger of boredom.
Though poker can make your heart rate jump at times of important decision, there are often long periods of waiting.
During this period, our minds can drift and wander. If you’re already relaxed, adding more relaxation through meditation can be a poor idea.
Instead, a better approach can be to find something to keep your mind somewhat occupied while never taking it completely off the game.
Exactly which route you want to take is up to you, depending on your personal preferences.
Some people like to play around with their poker chips, improving tricks and sleight of hand. Others might keep themselves occupied by coming up with fake backstories for the other players based on their attitudes and how they play.
Like meditation, this is a skill that you will develop over time, where nobody is an instant expert. It's important that you start developing these habits, and they will soon become like second nature.
Staying focused is one thing, but focus can create a problem in how we manage losses. In poker, like in regular life, we can easily find ourselves falling into frustrations when things don’t go our way.
Frustration is never fun to deal with, but feeling it in regular life can also provide opportunities to learn. Likewise, addressing the problem in daily life can also affect how we handle ourselves at the table.
As with relaxation, you can use some advanced techniques to prevent these issues from raising their heads. This guide includes seven different forms of meditation for this purpose. At least one of them should give you an indication of what might work for you.
It's also worth noting that working on frustration or anger can have positive health effects.
These include potentially reducing high blood pressure and getting rid of insomnia and anxiety. This is great for the table, and also great for managing our busy regular lives.
After all, if you can manage your food delivery being messed up for the third time in a week without getting annoyed, the chances are that a slow or loud player won't be quite so distracting.
The Form Makes the Man
For this suggestion, we're going to get closer to the games without going so far as to touch on strategy directly.
To best illustrate our point, consider the range of poker games available on a service such as supersevencasino.com. Aside from the bonuses, welcome offers, and a range of slot games, websites of this size also offer a selection of different poker variations.
The idea we want to focus on is that not all poker formats will be equally great fits for all players.
Instead of Texas Hold’em being the be-all and end-all of poker, as the mainstream media might lead you to believe, some players can find much more success by taking a different path.
Players should consider dipping their toes into as many different poker games as they can. Each one requires a different set of skills, and each one can appeal to players on very different levels.
As for when you can hope to apply these ideas to your game, that’s mostly up to you. Players need to remember that adopting techniques for managing stress and concentration takes time. The same goes for learning a new form of poker.
Rather than expecting to see enormous changes right away, it's more likely that changes will be slow, to the point of being unrecognizable in some instances.
For this reason, we'd recommend taking an initial stock of where you feel your shortcomings appear and how you feel when these come to a head. Over time, these concerns will be lessened, and what started as difficult could eventually become as natural as breathing.
No matter how serious you are about poker, and whether you play for fun or for a living, these ideas could help make you a better player as well as a happier and healthier individual.