What do the best poker professionals all have in common? (Think Negreanu, Brunson and Ivey)
They each have a well-developed Poker Mind, and that’s something that you must strive to develop.
The Poker Mind is patient and persevering, open minded, always calculating, never emotional and constantly strives to make the best play with the information given… every time. It takes years of focused, concentrated effort to develop. The Poker Mind is all about devoting time off the felt to studying productively, in order to make the time spent on the felt as profitable as possible.
Patient & Persevering
The Poker Mind takes years of dedicated study and practice to develop; thousands of hours spent playing the game over hundreds of thousands of hands, hours upon hours of time reviewing hands and judging the profitability of plays made, and time spent discussing poker with other like-minded individuals.
The Poker Mind can weather any storm and knows that in the long run it’s a winner, so small setbacks don’t affect it. Sure, it would’ve preferred to not get sucked out on by T7o when it had AA; but it happens, and the Poker Mind just accepts the defeat, is thankful that there are players that play T7o that way, and moves on to the next hand.
Your task is to foster a love of learning within yourself, and to have the understanding that being a world class player will only result from years of study and putting lessons learned into action. Every journey starts with a single step… then another… then another… and another. Your journey as a poker pro should be filled with thousands of “steps” – or hours spent studying the game, watching strategy videos, posting in forums and discussing strategy with friends. Be positive and know that rewards will come to those who dedicate themselves to the study of poker.
The Poker Mind isn’t set in its ways. It never says, “That’s impossible,” or “That would never work.” It’s always open to new ideas, and is willing to dedicate the time and effort into determining the effectiveness or profitability of any play or action at the tables. There was a time when 3betting was only done by pocket A’s or K’s, then Stu Unger and other aggressive players of his ilk showed that you can make lots of money doing what others would never consider profitable, or even possible.
The Poker Mind is a dreamer, never a naysayer. 2012’s biggest online winner won $3.6 million, a crazy big amount. But the following year, Niklas “ragen70” Heinecker did almost double that when he won a whopping $6.3 million online. How fast can a person achieve Super Nova Elite? Andrew “azntracker” Li accomplished it in just two months, an amazing feat back in 2011.
Your task is to always be open to new ideas, to dissect them and run the math yourself to test the validity. Don’t listen to others who tell you the “rules” of poker. The only rules in poker are what hands beat what and the order of play around the table. Other than that, you do what you want. The only limits to what you can accomplish are those you set for yourself.
The Poker Mind is dedicated to problem solving. It uses necessary tools and years of experience to find what plays may work in what situations. A simple question a player might ask is, “How often does my Cbet bluff have to work?” The simple, non-Poker Mind might answer with, “Well, if he thinks you’re full of it, he’ll call. If not, he’ll fold.”
The calculating Poker Mind would answer with something like, “Well, first you’re betting 1/2 pot, so that needs to work 33% on its own (bet / total pot = %). But, let’s dive deeper. Assign your opponent a range, enter it and your hole cards in Flopzilla, and determine what your opponent will call or reraise with. If your calculations say he’ll fold more often than your bet sizing says it has to, then you’re printing money in the long run with this play. If not, let’s see what we can adjust to make this play profitable.” The Poker Mind dives deep into problems, runs the math, and using imagination and problem solving skill it finds how it can make a situation profitable; what tweaks to ranges, hole cards and player types can change this situation into a winning one.
The Poker Mind looks for errors in its opponent’s way of thinking and devises ways to exploit its weaknesses and tendencies. In fact, it’s developed these exploitations years ago, but constantly looks for situations in which to use them to make the most profitable plays possible. It finds and nurtures situations where it can devastate unsuspecting opponents. “There’s a weak passive player two seats to my left, with position on me, so how can I get into more pots with him? Looks like I’m opening every Button and Cutoff.”
Your task is to think logically in solving every problem, and to think outside of the box when necessary. “I can’t figure out what this guy’s weakness is?” It’s time to dive into a hand history review on just this one opponent, view every one of his hands and his stats, and don’t give up until you find a weakness you can exploit. Everyone has a chink in the armor (even you) and it’s your job to find it.
Tilt? The Poker Mind is long past dealing with tilt as a major issue in the game. Sure, it creeps up occasionally, but the Poker Mind is able to see it coming, grab it by the throat and squeeze before it takes control. It’s spent time off the felt in personal reflection to find what situations most often bring about tilt. Is it losing to a weaker player, being on the bad end of a river suck-out after flopping a straight, or as simple as playing while tired and hungry? The Poker Mind knows how to avoid those tilt-inducing situations.
The Poker Mind isn’t concerned with results (although winning and increasing the bankroll is great) but it accepts the fate the cards deliver. The Poker Mind accepts reality before it happens, and doesn’t tilt when the cards don’t fall the “right” way. It instinctively knows that it won’t always win every battle, but the war is already won because the Poker Mind is a winner in the long-run.
Your task is to find what makes you tilt, then actively work each session on avoiding it. Read Jared Tendler’s book “The Mental Game of Poker” for some great analysis into tilt and ways to avoid it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and realize that the cards falling the other way is good for the game; there has to be some give and take, but your skill will be the deciding factor for you in the end.
Strives to Make the Best Plays… Always
The Poker Mind is constantly asking itself, “How can I win this pot?” with every hand it’s involved in. There is no giving up. The Poker Mind has seen too many situations to realize that poker is a long-term game of good decision making, and the one who makes the best decision most of the time will come out a winner. If an opponent has a particular weakness, the Poker Mind will find a way to exploit that weakness on the flop, turn or river. “There is always a way” is a common mantra of the Poker Mind.
Once the facts are considered and the Poker Mind has determined the correct course of action, it takes it and doesn’t regret the outcome. How can it? It was working with the best information at the time of the decision, utilized all past experiences in making the decision, and proceeded to take action. There is nothing to fault, and the outcome, whether good or bad, is simply accepted by the Poker Mind.
Your task is to put together all that you’ve learned, analyze each situation with your experiences and lessons in mind, and make a decision and take action. You can’t ask for more than that from yourself. Doing this properly, you will have no regrets in your poker career.
The Poker Mind – The Highest Form of Poker Self
Attainment of the Poker Mind is the ultimate goal of every poker pro. To be always in control, reading every situation and making the best decisions are key in poker success. Always act with the Poker Mind at the forefront and you can’t go wrong, and will never make a decision that you’ll regret. Put every effort into achieving this highest form of poker self and there is no limit to the poker heights you’ll reach.
Make your next session the best one yet!
Photo courtesy of Barry Chignell
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