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I have always been thinking that calm people have some kind of a superpower that is inaccessible for the rest of us. People who avoid “losing it” when things are not going their way are the ones who allow their brains to work and find a solution rationally. When you stop focusing on what happened and calm down, you will see that you could have spent your time on finding a solution instead. But hey, since they don’t teach us how to keep our cool in schools, each of us has to learn it on our own. Here are some of the tips that could be useful while playing online poker.
Eliminate Emotions — Fake It Until You Make It!
Being emotionally neutral is the tactic you would want to follow. For many gamblers, their approach to the game and how they handle their emotions is something they are not willing to change, but instead, consider it as acquiring a new skill.
Poker takes you through so many emotional ups and downs that it is practically impossible not to experience a broad spectrum of emotions. However, you can see all the best players trying their best to put their feelings aside, both good and bad. Emotional control is hard to build, and this is why professional therapists recommend the following approach as the first step to emotional power: “Fake it until you make it!”
Act your way into new behavior. Spend some time thinking about your attitude and body language and picture yourself as a professional poker player who barely cares. Or at least, gives off that impression. After a while, you will begin to realize that you have actually adapted to your own actions and have started developing new behavioral habits.
Learn Relaxation Methods
There are plenty of breathing methods and muscle exercises you could explore and find the most suitable one for your needs. The goal of the one I found most effective is to help you master full body awareness in stressful situations. In my opinion, having better body awareness is the key to achieving that necessary inner peace.
The idea of the exercise is to hold and squeeze each group of your body muscles individually for at least 10 seconds by slowly counting to 10. After doing so, just release all of the tension that has accumulated. If you do this for every muscle group, your body will automatically be fully relaxed. Repeat the exercise at least twice for better results.
Breathe and Visualize
Combining breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualizing a peaceful place doesn’t take much of your time. However, it will take your mind away from the possible loss on the table.
Heavy and interrupted breathing, stressed out muscles, and grim thoughts about possible outcomes of the game will be great company for accumulated stress and anxiety.
And we should mention that the effects of all of those negative thoughts can lead to you give off certain tells during a game. And as someone who plays poker recreationally, I can say that showing obvious and repetitive tells is a surefire way to lose more money than you can win.
Learn to Enjoy the Game
What is the worst thing that can happen? Nobody likes to lose, that is an ugly truth, but if you think about losing, you most probably will. Try not to play for the monetary award alone! Instead, try to enjoy the game itself and concentrate on your abilities and the strategy you are planning right now. You should make sure that when you sit at that table or join a virtual one, you are clear on how much money is at your disposal. That way, you can begin the game by keeping in mind that you have nothing more to lose than that. However, always remember that you are not afraid of people — you are scared of feeling that rise up from failure. But hey, they are your feelings. That means you are the only one who can change them.
Find Bad Players
There will always be more bad players than the good ones. So always keep in mind that your exact table will almost certainly have at least one that is worse than you. If you practice enough, you can turn the odds in your favor. Stay calm, hold on to your strategy, and rate your opponents. You will come to meaningful conclusions for your confidence.
Always Gamble Alone
If you decide to take gambling seriously, it is hazardous to bring a companion. The most common mistake will come after a first loss. The first thing that will occur will be pressure and fear. When alone, after an opening loss, you have alone time to come back and think about your next step. On the other hand, when with a friend, most people are prone to gambling faster and at higher stakes. Your companion is not the one to blame. It is just that this game is made for you to be alone with your thoughts, plans, and of course, fears.
Practice to Confidence
With the constant exposure to situations that trigger your anxiety, the more you play, the less anxious you become. Practice each of your methods and develop your strategies with every game you play. People use this as advice all the time, but it is true — practicing your skills minimizes the fear of failure.
Take Effective Breaks
Sitting for so many hours where you repeatedly face stressful situations will put you at risk of tilting, or even putting yourself on autopilot. You will not be thinking clearly, so the decision you make while exhausted could really cost you and consume your energy. Take a break and go for a walk, give yourself time to reflect, or even better, don’t think about poker. Use that time to practice breathing and relaxation methods mentioned above. You will return much stronger.
Overall, poker is a game like no other. In it, you can only learn by losing. Do not be afraid of that, after every loss, you will need to acquire new skills, and that is always a plus. Also, don’t forget to set your goals. One of them should be having a better grip on your feelings. Also, try to practice remaining calm along the way. Be patient with yourself and focus on playing as many hands as you can so that you could master the game. Your next goal will be to conquer yourself. One step towards that goal, two steps back is always the path that leads to a bigger change, and that takes time. So make sure to take your time to achieve that significant change.