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Mindset

From Schaubs' recent post:

But man poker has got me all fucked up. I just don’t have a positive feeling heading into games right now. This is where my head is at these days. It’s in the wrong frame of mind and I can’t do much about it, except take a break. So it’s on.

I feel ya, Schaubs.

In about three hours, I'll be attending a new hybrid home game/underground poker room (i.e., a home game with a rake) after receiving an invite from Matty Ebs, and all I can think about is that I don't feel right. I'm just not in the right mindset and it's something I need to address sooner rather than later.

Remember two of my favorite sayings, "Winning begets winning" and "Losing begets losing"? Well, there can be little doubt that part of those phenomenoms is attributable to one's mindset. When you mentally believe that you can't win, you will find a way to lose, and when you feel confident, other players will react by folding to you more often or avoiding pots with you altogether leaving you with fewer post-flop opponents.

Mindset is a huge element in the game of poker, so my losing mindset has got to go. I know its origins, largely due to the fact that I have been playing break-even poker since probably April, if not sooner. It's ugly. At least I'm not losing, although I still feel like a loser.

Shake it off, though. That's all I can do (aside from following Schaubs' smart plan and take a break). With Vegas and AC in December and a homegame tonight, though, I need to shake this shit off fast. So, let's go through the ways to shake off a mental funk:

1. Remember that poker is a long term game and in the long term, I'm still up 5 figures. I can remember that at one point, I didn't keep track of total wins/losses. Then I realized that I could very well be spending hours playing poker per week as a losing player. I won't have that, so I decided to keep track of my wins/losses as a gage to determine whether or not I should be playing poker. If I found that I was break even or losing, I'd have to re-evaluate my hobby.

Ironically, I also realized, for the first time, that I was a winning player. My win/loss sheet became more about reminding myself when times were lean that poker was not unbeatable or that I was not a donkey who had just gotten lucky in the past. I might not have the wins that some other players have, but I'm still a winner, and in a game where the score card is cold, hard cash, that's something to celebrate.

2. When in doubt, self delusion is always best! A long time ago, I read one of Doyle Brunson's books on poker. It was more of a story book, rather than a strategy book, and one story has stuck with me to this day. One player used to go into the bathroom before every session and talk to himself in the mirror: "You are going to win today. There is no other option. You are going to win. Because you are good. You are great." It sounds like a joke, in a way, but sometimes, when I need to get my head into that winning mindset, I'll do the same.

When I first realized that the key to getting laid was confidence, I learned how to fake confidence. When I faked confidence, people didn't know the difference and the results were positive, earning me real confidence. Now, self delusion might not be the ideal solution to all of life's problems, but for a lack of confidence, it can work just fine. So, the plan is to change my mindset by talking to myself. Hey, at least it's a plan.

3. Drown out the doubts with distractions. As a student, I used to bring my walkman to the big tests, like the SATs or finals. When all of the other students were quizzing each other beforehand (yes, I was in the nerd class), I would find a place to lose myself in the music. The distraction served to pacify me.

A great deal of my problem is anxiety. I'm anxious to play and I have a fear that I will lose. That anxiety fits right in to my hate for the wait. When I have to wait to play, it's as though my body builds up all of it's LAG-ness and I just spew chips as soon as I get cards. Well that shit don't fly today. On the walk over, I plan to listen to some chill tunes and lose myself in the music. I need to be relaxed when the game starts and overanalyzing won't help me one bit.

That's my three part game plan. The smarter one part game plan would be to skip the game, but damnit, it's poker.

If you have any other suggestions as to how to change one's mindset in anticipation of a game, let's hear 'em. I can use all the help I can get.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:07 PM,

2 Comments:

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Flawless said...

Anxiety? Some times it helps and some times it is not. When you play poker, you shouldn't do it to escape from being depressed or having a really bad day. You start out on tilt -- playing emotionally, not rationally -- and you won't play your best. Likewise, if during a poker game, you lose a big hand or get sucked out on and feel yourself going on tilt, stand up & take a break until you feel calm later on. Fellow players will sense your mood & take advantage of it.


Game, poker, online poker, online game

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Lucypher said...

Confidence is key and clearly, you know that, too. Believe it or not, breath control can also really help.
Seriously, in Tommy Angelo's book, he talks about paying attention to your breathing and conciously controlling it. It really works to help focus one's concentration.

 

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