People often say that the trick in playing Poker is not in the cards themselves, but in the bluff, instead. There is a reason that the idea of bluffing being the cornerstone to good Poker playing is so prevalent, and that’s because the ability to bluff relies on a player’s ability to read and manipulate the other players at the table. Understanding the peaks and dips of the other players at the table during a game can help one bluff well, but there are many other areas where that kind of awareness helps as well.
Knowing how to size the bets to affect change in behaviour, knowing when to push and when to let the opponent enjoy his or her limelight, and being able to see the moments of weakness in the other player(s) that open windows into their methodologies and goals, are all examples of the same level of consciousness required to bluff, but also which are required to play the game with the best of them. It may seem like a complex topic, and it is, but there are a few easy things that you can start working on during your next game.
One of the first things that you can look for in your opponent is whether they are getting angry or frustrated. As soon as you see you adversary angry or frustrated, you know you have already won so long as you can keep your cool. When these emotions hit a player, it becomes very difficult to think clearly which means that making winning decisions during gameplay is also out.
Another thing to look for is if the opponent is looking for a specific outcome. When players are expecting a very particular card or hand to be dealt, it is generally very clear. There is a very real psychological connection between the process of the game and how we feel the game should end up based on past events. This is not something that we always feel, and as a result, this is not something that we are often even aware of when it happens. When it strikes, it is clear to everyone else, though, and if it happens to your opponent it is time to begin playing on the offensive because they will not be looking at 90% of the table due to their narrowed vision.
It isn’t a secret that Poker in all its forms and variations can be an exhausting game. When the game is played in ways that allow the mind and psychological state of the player to take control, there isn’t another type of gambling that is more stressful than Poker can be. On the other side of that coin, however, when players learn to control their mental pitfalls and to take advantage of the other players’ weaknesses, the game can be one of the most exciting and energizing options around. The trick, of course, is to become good at what makes the game hard. Once you are able to achieve that, you are ready to join the ranks of the best players in the world.
One of the most important things to remember is that you should be motivated to win at all costs. That doesn’t mean that you should stake your kids’ college money on your next name or throw the key of your car onto the table when someone raises, but it does mean that you shouldn’t take no for an answer. Especially when it is your own mind doing the telling. When you sit down at the table, you know what you want and the only way to get it is to know that no one else is going to do it for you. You must do whatever you need to in order to prevail.
Know Your Limits
Another thing that makes players strong is when they know their limits and can recognize when their emotions are getting the better of them. Even the best players in the world get visibly swayed by their own emotions and when you watch them and how they deal with it, you will often see them look away from the table for a moment to collect their thoughts. They develop the ability to return to their unaffected state of mind using different techniques. When they do that, they are cancelling out the effects of the emotions, which in turn make their game and performance as solid as it can be. Controlling one’s own responses to emotional triggers goes a long way in a person’s ability to remain calm under pressure which is another aspect of a strong player.
No matter what you do, the name of the game is having a strong mind. That doesn’t mean being obstinate. It means having the ability to not allowing your mind to control you.
When you play Poker, your biggest and most ferocious enemy isn’t the person or people sitting across from you at the poker table. Your most difficult adversary is your own mind, and that is the kind of enemy that can sometimes be one of the most difficult to conquer. If you are ready to take control over your own mind and take your Poker game to the next level, follow the steps outlined here and you will see a clear difference in the way you play, almost immediately.
One of the first things that you should remember is that the mind is fallible. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you have a mind, it can be affected in one way or another by chemicals in the brain caused by emotional response to different events. Chemicals and emotions aren’t the only culprits, either. Your confidence in what you are doing, or lack thereof, can also sway your decisions in dangerous ways.
First, try to understand what is planned and what is not when it comes to the types of things your mind is telling you to do. When you first sit down at the table and come up with a strategy that seems solid to you and your mind suddenly begins to tell yourself that a new and wildly different approach should be adopted, you might have a problem. That kind of thing doesn’t happen unless your mind is undisciplined. Always keep track of what you are doing and create a logic test to put your decisions through before you make them. If a move doesn’t make any logical sense, it’s probably not a great idea. Finally, take breaks often and do not let yourself get fatigued. Being too tired can be your worst enemy.