Your Mental Game Is As Important As Your Poker Skills

Are you doing enough to improve your mental game skills?

Many poker players spend countless hours developing their skills by neglect their mental game. The best poker players in the world have the strongest mental game; they don’t overlook this crucial aspect.

Being mentally tough is vital to success in many walks of life. Professional sports people need to be on point with their mental game to handle the pressure their games create. Top business people need to keep their cool while signing multi-million dollar deals.

Poker players are no different. The variance if the game is crazy and can drive you to despair. Having a A-grade mental game helps players deal with the swings poker creates and allows them to concentrate on the long-term.

What Is Meant By Mental Game?

A player’s mental game is exactly what it sounds like, the psychological side of playing poker. It doesn’t involve starting hands or bankroll management. Nor does it deal with three-bet frequencies or hero calling. It is vitally important despite this. This part of the game is the foundations on which you build your skills. You can be the most skilled player in your country but won’t succeed long term with a weak mental game behind you.

Which Aspect Of My Mental Game Should I Work On?

Everyone is different when it comes to strengths and weaknesses and this includes the mental side of the game. You need to do a bit of soul searching and make an honest assessment of what you do well and not so well.

Improving all aspects of your mental game is important, but try to work on your biggest weaknesses first. Unlike plugging your leaks instead of glaring mistakes as suggested when it comes to your playing skills, you should work on the areas of your mental game needing the most help first.

Common Issues

The majority of mental game problems revolve around players’ emotions. Emotions are extremely powerful, so powerful they can take control of a person. Humans struggle to think clearly when their emotions overcome them. The brain reverts to fight or flight mechanism and you can only perform actions you are an expert in. This is why some players continue to play OK preflop when they are tilting but play like a lunatic post-flop, for example.

Tilt is the biggest cause of emotions taking over a poker player’s mind. Going on tilt has decimated the bankrolls of too many players to mention. There are many forms of tilt but they all result in you not playing the best poker you can.

Running bad is a common reason for players tilting. Losing to the deck and continual bad beats accumulate over time and cause problems. You play hands differently expecting a different outcome but you still lose. Ever hear anyone accuse online poker of being rigged? They are suffering from running bad tilt most likely.

Some players simply hate losing and cannot deal with it happening. They want a perfect record book and any blot on it is a major black mark against their name. We will write more about tilt in a later article.

What Can I Do To Improve?

Take a long, hard look at yourself and be honest in your assessment of your mental state. Not only that but your poker skills, too.

I cannot recommend The Mental Game of Poker books enough. Jared Tendler and Barry Carter did an amazing job in creating these mental game bibles. You can purchase them for a few bucks on Amazon and they will pay for themselves after your first couple of poker sessions, that is for certain.

Furthermore, concepts in these books can be applied to other walks of life. Stock traders sing Tendler and Carter’s praises, for example. I used some of the concepts while trying to get in shape. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on them; thank me later!

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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