When nothing appears to be going right, players often begin to question their own theories about the game of poker. More often than not, it’s just a bad run of cards. But as one who doesn’t rely too heavily on luck, I try to look within myself when things aren’t going well.
Let’s say that you haven’t been pleased with your recent results at the poker table. You’ve examined your style of play and concluded that you haven’t been playing any differently than you normally do. Then again, you think that perhaps you’ve become too predictable and it’s time to come up with a new approach.
You see, that’s one of the most interesting aspects of No Limit Texas Hold’em. You can develop a new battle plan before you take on your first hand. In fact, you can change your style of play from day to day and even from hand to hand. And if you don’t believe that, then you just aren’t trying hard enough.
The psychological warfare can start well before you take your seat. You might look around the table and recognize some of the players. You can assume that they know how you normally play. Perhaps your game is to play super fast and raise with a lot of hands. Well, maybe you should throw them a curveball; slow down and set some traps instead.
There are, obviously, factors other than your game plan that can contribute to winning or losing at poker. I’m specifically referring to bad luck and how it can too often lead to making bad poker decisions.
The truth is that luck plays a larger role in poker than most people think – especially in tournament play.
You’ll often find yourself in the middle of a key pot where, statistically, the outcome is close to being a coin flip, like a pair versus two overcards. How you fare in these situations will have a big impact on your results. Ideally, of course, you want to avoid such high-risk endeavors, but sometimes you simply don’t have a choice. Face it: You’re going to go through streaks when you’ll lose more than your fair share of coin-flip hands. That’s just part of the game.
It’s the byproduct of these tough losses, though, that needs to be addressed.
Bad luck can do severe damage to your confidence. Unless you’re able to remain completely emotionless at the poker table, a run of bad luck will lead to making bad decisions. If you’re thinking, “Oh no, not again, I have pocket kings and just got reraised; the way I’m running, he probably has pocket aces,” well, you’re in trouble from the start. In poker, it seems that when you feel like you’re bound to lose, you probably will.
It’s imperative, therefore, that you change your mindset and stop dwelling on negative thoughts. You must make a conscious decision to play every hand the best you can and avoid worrying about the things you can’t control.
Bad decisions are born from a lack of focus combined with a lack of confidence. In order to play your best, you have to separate the past from the present and devote all of your attention to the here and now.
Don’t obsess over the fact that you’ve lost with aces six hands in a row. All that will do is cloud your judgment and cause you to make more unnecessary mental errors.
Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.
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