Monday, April 30, 2007

In Poker, Emotions Are #1

IMO (as always), a poker player can learn all the best techniques and have great poker skill, but will fail miserably if he can't keep his emotions in check. I believe this is the absolute key to excelling at poker. I bring up this subject because I have experienced an emotional roller coaster during the month of April. From an excellent start to the month to a miserable middle to a topsy-turvy but mediocre end, I've learned quite a bit about my emotions and what puts me on tilt.

I learned that I'm more aggressive during a card rush. I learned that I get overly cautious after some heavy losses, but I get too aggressive after a bad beat. I learned I feel a kind of sadness after I make a stupid play and lose. Much like the same sadness I felt when I would strike out in Little League because I wanted to impress my dad who was my team's manager. I even found out just exactly how caffeine-sensitive I really am. Less than half a can of Pepsi makes me want to jump into the screen deal the cards myself. Caffeine is great for me to accomplish chores around the house, but terrible for me to play poker on. It's worse for my game than alcohol. Very odd. So many different kinds of tilt.

Anyway, these types of feelings need to be recognized and controlled so they don't upset one's game. I believe that proper preparedness could be the answer. If "XYZ" happens, how will the player react? What situations are easy to handle and which ones are harder to bear? What kinds of thoughts can be used to conquer the tougher times? Everyone is different so I'll have to find my own keys that work for me. I think I'll try reviewing some hand histories and recreating some losses in order to prepare myself to better handle their likely recurrence.

Again, I believe having control of one's emotions is THE #1 KEY to success in poker. Wish me luck with controlling mine.

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