Friday, April 08, 2005

Your Next Great Poker Education

Hey guys, I’m back after a long break from posting. Reading other blogs, I constantly see posters apologize for a lack of posts. Unfortunately you will not see many apologies from me. I always have many things going on in my life and since posting is the least profitable thing I do, it gets the back seat when things get hectic. However, I really do enjoy posting and once law school finals are over as well as a much needed vacation, I will get back to posting three times a week. So please stick with us here at ‘ShipIt!’ And remember that while we have busy lives and do not get paid for posting, good things are on the horizon for this site.

I post today because of this comment I saw attached to one of Chris’s posts.

My comment has nothing to do with this post. I have a problem with leaving when the game goes bad. Often I'll stay in the game until I really can't play anymore. I guess I like to play too much and my competitiveness makes me stay in the game even if I sense other players are stronger than me. Perhaps you guys could make a post on a poker players discipline. Thanks.Phillip Liou 04.06.05 - 1:13 am

Phillip,

Lately I have not been spending much time at all at the poker tables. However the break has given me an opportunity to see poker in a way that is impossible when completely immersed in it. Poker can completely chaotic at times. Bad beats, tough beats, cold cards, bad bluffs, bad play, and a thousand other variables can make poker seem uncontrollable. When things are running good, poker can seem like the easiest thing in the world. Just a few hands later when things are bad, poker can seem unbeatable. I have posted about the following mentality before, but I will now put a slightly different twist on it. The following is how I believe that all good poker players have to start seeing the game to become long term winners and avoid tilt and frustration.

In the beginning, a new poker player must master odds, hand rankings, position, tells, and overall strategy. This is consuming and takes a very long time. However, once it is mastered, only small tweaks are necessary. The player’s next big education is learning to control their mind and emotions. Millions of poker players have reached a sound level of proficiency and grasp of the game. However, as long as any player plays poker, the following situations will occur.

1) KK v. AA
2) Getting sucked out on with AA
3) Boat over boat
4) Set over set
5) Flush over flush
6) Suck-outs

Simply put, a player can play ten hands in a row perfectly and lose their stack on each one. However, remember the following sentence each time you are the victim one of pokers most frustrating hands. In the long run tough beats are a push, and you will be on both sides the same amount. You must understand this because these hands will come up the rest of your poker career. There is good news; these hands do not determine a winning poker player. What does determine long-term success is preventing mistakes that come from some type of tilt. Once a player has a certain grasp of the game, roughly 90% of mistakes come from being emotional or tired.

If you know the ins and outs of the game, change your focus. Work on the next great challenge, always putting your ‘A’ game forward and controlling tilt. If before, when you were studying poker you worked on strategy 90% of the time and mental aspects of the game 10%, REVERSE IT. Put everything you have into making yourself the best possible mental player you can. Please re-read this paragraph before I give you the good news and the bad news. I’ll give the bad news first: Becoming a mentally tough poker player on a world class level is easily twenty times harder than learning poker strategy. However the good news is that mastering the mind is the true secret to poker and anyone can do it. If you use sound strategy at the table and are mentally tough you will be a winning poker player.

Now you know your next great education and journey in your poker experience, but how do you do it? When I return to posting I will first finish The Heads Up Doctrine. However, after that my next great poker undertaking will be entitled…Poker: A Game of Controlling the Mind, which will be a series of posts that break down how to be mentally tough at the table. In the meantime, next time your quads get beat by the runner-runner straight flush remember that those hands even out in the long run. What does not even out in the long run is the amount of time a player makes mistakes while on tilt. Work hard on controlling your mind at the table. ShipIt!

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