I am going to reveal something that I think is of immense use to any poker player. While it is critical to know how to play the game well, this is only a tiny part of being a successful poker player. Playing poker has so many similarities to financial trading that it really is quite spooky.
Some of the most valuable pieces of information with regard to me improving my poker game have come from reading financial books either on trading or the stockmarket. As you begin to educate yourself in this subject, you will constantly be reminded of these three little areas that have to be mastered in order to make money, not just on trading, but in poker too.
There really is no mystique to making money in poker. You need to get your mindset, technique and money management areas sorted. If you ask me which one is more important than the other then that is a question that cannot be properly answered. The best response to that question, once again, came through one of the trading books that I have in my vast library (cannot remember which one) where the author asked someone, “If you were to sit on a three legged stool and I decided to take one of the legs away, which one would be the least important?”
That statement underlines these three critical facets to poker. If your mindset isn’t right, if you tilt constantly, if you get bored or don’t ever treat poker seriously, then how can you ever expect to win? You can have a great technique and great knowledge, but if you are prone to aggressive tilt then you have no future as a poker player.
Technique is basically accumulated knowledge, but it is only one part of a three dimensional entity. Likewise, if you had great technique and a good mindset but yet persisted in doing crazy spin ups trying to turn $100 into $50k being under bankrolled the whole time then you are an accident waiting to happen!
You could have the best money management system going, yet if you cannot play poker well enough then you still will not make money. It is amazing how these three facets co-exist and also how even after a period of success, how suddenly one of them can break down.
If you move up a level where the game dynamic is different, then your method that was successful at the lower levels may no longer be working…..in which case you are back to having no method and have only two legs on your three legged stool.
Also, it is amazing how you can lose a successful mindset as well. I remember the first time that I ever multi-tabled. I switched from playing one table to six. I recall thinking how, with so much going on, that I could never be short of action. The strange thing was that I was struggling to make money and this continued for a while.
I basically put it all down to concentrating less as I was playing more tables and decided to work on my concentration levels. It was only after I read yet another financial trading book by a professional Wall Street trader that I realised what was going wrong. The screen and rapid action was having an almost hypnotic effect on me and I wasn’t even realising it.
So in big moments I wasn’t actually in full control of the situation. This didn’t happen all the time, but it happened often enough for me to bleed money away. Making money in a brutal game like no-limit is tough enough seeing as even with a high strike rate of pots won, you can still be a net loser. It’s even harder when you spew money and the all-round better and more educated players don’t pass it back as quickly these days.
I was trying to correct this by staring at the screen more intently, in an effort to increase my concentration levels, in an attempt to fix what I thought was the problem. In actual fact I was making the problem worse as focusing on the screen was hypnotising me even faster. When you are in this hypnotic state, you are not in control, even if you may think that you are.
Suddenly out of the blue, some big pot crops up and you do the wrong thing. It niggles you and, because you are not mentally on it, you end up playing a few subsequent hands badly and before you know it, you have dug yourself a hole. If this applies to anyone else then I really hope that you can associate with this. It has certainly happened to me and still will if I am not careful.
But remember that whatever you study in poker or however hard you strive to improve your game, then whatever you are doing should be designed to improve these three areas…..mindset…..technique…..money management!
Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be seen at his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com