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Your Poker Resolutions for 2016
By Brodey Sheppard - February 25, 2016
When the new year rolled in, did you set some resolutions for the year? Maybe it was to get fitter, or to learn to do something you’ve never tried before. There are many aspects of our lives that have room for self-improvement. One of those things may be your poker game.
Steps Towards Genuine Change
Every individual has the ability to change or develop themselves. This is, however, difficult to do most of the time. People usually fail with their resolutions largely because of their frame of mind: they don’t recognize what real change is, or what it entails.
The first thing to recognize is that change involves believing that doing something is necessary. There are so many people with real problems that don’t believe they actually need to change, even if they are aware of the problems. Isn’t it surprising how often we see people in Reality TV shows deny issues that are staring them right in the face? But if you want to really change something in your life, you have to believe that it is something that is necessary for you to do.
Secondly, genuine change demands real motivation. Although we all recognize that changing is hard, a lot of people are not motivated enough to fix their problems. We tend to stick with our habits, even when they are dysfunctional, because we have gotten used to them too much. Therefore, making a stand for change means you need to have unwavering motivation to carry out what you have intended to do.
The third thing we need to do is to identify the things, persons or beliefs that cause us to make self-destructive choices. In most cases, there are forces outside of you that are keeping you from your goals. These may include some beliefs in the society you live in or even other people around you. What is important is that you identify what or who they are so you can continue with the next step, which is making a strategy to attain your goals.
After you have accepted your problems and identified what keeps you making the same old choices, you need to make a strategy on how to overcome them. Willpower, although important, is not enough. You have to make a plan and carry out the plan if you want to succeed. Often, when we don’t plan, we expect ourselves to fail. So stop expecting to fail and actively work on your resolutions!
Changing Your Game for the Better
When it comes to playing poker, you can easy apply these steps in order to improve your game. The very first thing you need to do is to identify what your problems are.
Stop and think about it well. What is keeping you from having a good game? Maybe you make bad calls because you’re terrified of being bluffed. Perhaps you drink when you play, so you make decisions recklessly. Maybe you play big pots from out of position because you had a bad day, so you unknowingly give your opponents information about your cards. Perhaps you play too many starting hands, or maybe you’re just easily distracted.
This list can go on, of course, but what is key here is that you begin identifying the dysfunctional pattern and admit that it is indeed a problem. The next thing to do is to ask yourself why you make these choices or do the things you do.
Finally, devise a feasible strategy for your change and improvement. It’s not enough to tell yourself “I won’t do this anymore.” You need to make a tangible plan and stick to it to make the change, or changes, actually happen.
Poker Resolutions for 2016
With these in mind, here are examples of probable issues you are facing when playing at the poker table, and what you can do about them.
1) You are distracted
If you succumb to thinking about other things - like your kids, your relationships or the recent sports scores - then your strategy could be to allow yourself a few minutes away from the poker game to settle those things in your mind. Trying your best to shut these out while playing could be a mistake, because they do, in fact, weigh heavy on your mind. Once you’ve had 10 or 15 minutes away from the table, you can then return to your game with more focused attention.
2) You are not fit to play your A-game
If you are tired after a long day or if you've had a few drinks, then resist going to the poker table to make you feel better. Playing poker requires mental sharpness. If you are upset or inebriated, you risk losing more than you could gain. This also applies if you've had a really bad streak at poker recently. If you are still upset about your losses, don’t play for a day or so. This will give you time to think about what went wrong. In the meantime, you can practise by using free online poker sites. Just remember that it's important to pick the right online tournament for you. Anytime you don’t feel comfortable, take a break to reset your mind. Remember that you have to be emotionally and psychologically fit to deliver your A-game.
3) You take risks without calculating the outcomes
In poker, there must always be a reason behind the actions you make. If you can’t tell yourself what the reason is behind your move, then you are probably making the wrong decision. If your problems revolve around making rash decisions, then it’s time to slow down. Maybe you reflexively re-buy after a big loss, or maybe you can’t resist set-mining without careful consideration of the stack sizes. Perhaps you rarely even think about whether your opponents will play lesser hands. If this is what you are dealing with, then you have to start remaking your game strategy. You can start by setting out rigid criteria by which you will play small pocket pairs. You can look at basic poker strategy guides or professional poker tips for this. Remember that all the poker pros are able to calculate outcomes and make sound decisions from there.
4) Your ego is in the way
Sometimes, the reason why you may have problems at the poker table is because of ego. Now, it’s completely fine to be proud of your accomplishments. The ego that is being referred here is any ego during the game. Most of the time, the deceitful reward that players trade in for profit involves ego. If you want the other players at the table to look at you as a smart and great player, then this leads you to show a difficult fold or successful bluff very early in the game. As a result, you leak information. This also leads you to reveal win percentages in all-in situations. In a table of pros, you won’t be able to hold up. By the time you make a play for your life, they know exactly when to call your bluff. By acknowledging that your ego is not helping you win, you can move forward by making smart, calculated decisions. Keeping your ego in check while in the game will help you become a more strategic player and boost your odds to win.
When it comes to your poker resolutions, all you need to do is own your problem, figure out why you do it, and find the motivation to fix it. After that, plan for your success and stick with the plan. With these helpful tips, you’ll surely get on the right track this year.