7 Ways to Improve Your Mindset When Playing Poker

Improve mindset when playing poker

1) Remind yourself of the long run

Above anything else, always remind yourself of why it is that you play poker. Because you are a winning player! No matter how bad a session may get, your time is well spent at the tables because in the long run you are profitable.

A great way to constantly remind yourself of this is to simply set a Pokertracker graph as the background on your desktop. See that line that goes up and to the right? That is why you can laugh about all the bad beats and coolers.

2) Keep sessions short

I generally don't like to play more than 3 hours at a time. I find that I tend to get hungry, bored or tired if I go beyond that. All of which can have a negative impact on my game. Your number of hours or hands might be more or less. Whats important is to know what it is and stick to it. The only time that you should play beyond it is when you are running well and the games are amazing.

3) Play poker earlier in the day

If possible play as soon as you wake up or after breakfast. I always find that I am at my best mental clarity earliest in the day.

4) Play less poker tables

As much as it sucks to cut back on tables you will tilt less and play better as a result. If you are running bad and playing a lot of tables at once, you are going to be hit with rapid fire bad beats and coolers. This is an obstacle for many live players trying out online who are used to 30 hands an hour. Understand that when you choose to play a lot of tables and you hit the doomswitch, its going to seem downright unbelievable at times. Hence all the rigged theories that continue to abound.

5) Use positive self talk

We are always talking to ourselves or making judgements about things or people whether we realize it or not. Controlling this inner stream of dialogue can go a long way to helping improve your mood and outlook at the poker tables and beyond. One of the first things that poker players should look to control is their reactions to other players.

Yes I know that (#*%@#) just hit his (*%&#ing) gutshot again. That stupid (motherf*#&$%)...STOP. What good is this doing? Poker is a game of decisions. He is making poor ones and will pay for it in the long run. Check his PTR real quick if you have any doubts. Take a deep breath and move on to the next hand now.

6) Stay focused

Remove as many distractions as possible. Don't let anything get between you and making the best possible decision in this hand right here and now. Even if it seems totally mundane like replying to that IM or text message. You are only going to be playing poker for a couple of hours at most. It can wait.

7) Don't look at your results

I realize this is a hard one for a lot of people. And I still struggle with it myself. Try to remind yourself that you can never play enough hands in one session to represent a statistically significant sample. So it is kind of crazy and totally pointless to keep checking the cashier every 10 minutes.

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  1. Good tips Thanks Nathan . Yea i know that tilt switch goes on after a triple bad beat in a row LOL.. The first bad beats not that bad it's when they start rapid firing at you over and over ..
    Good Luck at the tables i know i need lots of luck this Month ughhhhh..it's been all belly flops for me in August.. Chris

  2. Anonymous26 August

    Good post. I've been following you for a while now, and you've helped me a great deal. So, many thanks to you. I keep struggling with the ''best time of day to play'' part.I live in Romania so that means that the most players(esp.fish) are online at latter hours, at night and, as you said, it would be better to play earlier. Mentally, I feel that too but I don't think it compensates for the lack of better games. And I know it's NL2 and it's crazy all the time, but still. Anyway, you're doing a fantastic job. Keep it up.

  3. Chris,

    Ya its brutal sometimes. Hope things change for you soon.


    Its tough to say. I always thought that Canadians (my country) and Americans had the worst players by far. Even with the Americans gone, I still think that North American primetime hours are the best time to play.

    I know that doesn't help you Euro's out as it is real late there. But there is much more traffic during your primetime hours so there should still be good games to be found.

  4. Hello Nathan, just something for you to consider, when you switched to six max awhile back you jumped straight into NL25 and NL50 and broke even against ppl that are accustommed to 6 max and experienced 6 max players....honestly i know how experienced you are at full ring but even if its just for a day or 2 i honestly believe you should try 6 max NL2 you would crush those games at a higher clip than your full ring results i firmly believe it for 2 main reasons 1. you get to play the button every 6 hands and dont have to worry about nits limping utg which means you can isolate easier without worrying to be limp re raised and 2. there are twice as many fish at 6 max and you get direct position on them, i really believe you should give it a go see what happens you will destroy them i think!


  5. Ya good idea. I see that your results are much better at 6max than full ring. I'll check it out soon and try and give it a few days.