While an element of luck is involved in poker, it is also a sport in which skill plays a huge part in determining who walks away victorious.
Managing your emotions is a key asset of all great poker players, but how do the pros keep their feelings in check and what can enthusiastic amateurs learn from them in this respect?
If you are getting hot and bothered while playing poker, this is more than likely due to the fact that there is more at stake than you can comfortably lose. This is why it is important to always stick to a predetermined budget and never take unnecessary risks, even if you are just playing with a few friends in a private game at home.
Clinging onto a hand which you think is good in spite of all the evidence suggesting that one of the other players at the table has something better is always a bad move. The best poker grinders will always take stock and decide to fold in such circumstances, while those with less experience might hold out and ultimately be disappointed, which can create emotions of anxiety and despair.
Part of the trick to staying serene when you play poker is appreciating that it is impossible to win every hand and that folding is an effective tactic that can secure success later on.
Just as you should fold when it feels right, you should also step back from the table if you are ever finding that the experience is becoming overwhelming in any way. This does not have to solely focus on feelings of stress; if you are getting tired or frustrated, it is a good sign that it is time to call it quits, as playing on will rarely change this state of affairs.
Walking into any poker game without first having a solid understanding of both the rules and the jargon that goes along with the sport is not a good idea. Instead it pays to familiarise yourself with the main terms that will probably be used at some point so that you are not caught off-guard.
Your opponents will easily sense that you are flustered if you are not properly prepared and some aspect of the action knocks your confidence. A little bit of homework goes a long way to relaxing you when playing poker.
This might not seem obvious, but many poker pros wear clothes as a kind of psychological armour when approaching an important game.
Slipping on a pair of shades is a simple solution to stopping any micro expressions being read by the other people at the table, giving you the strategic upper hand and also creating a protective layer which should improve your composure. You can go even further and wear an outfit that makes you feel comfortable, is important to you or expresses your personality in some way if you wish; anything to get you in the zone.
Mistakes are made when you snap to a decision without giving yourself the breathing room to think everything through. In a poker context, it is always sensible to sit back and let yourself mull over any major choices, such as whether to call or fold when there is a big pot sitting on the table.
This requires a bit of will power on your part, because you may find that other players are urging you to pick quickly, knowing full well that this will give them the upper hand. Collect your thoughts and take a minute to consider all the angles whenever possible.
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