Tips to Staying Mentally Focused for a Poker Player

Posted on: May 23, 2016

The hallmark of a truly successful poker player (or any card game for that matter) is the ability to stay mentally focused in any given situation and under any circumstances.

When a player is mentally focused, they are aware of and in-tune with every hand and every play while holding multiple potential outcomes in their head, because a mentally focused player is always calculating their best odds for success no matter what the cards are.

Now the question becomes, how do I as a poker player, improve my mental focus and intellectual fortitude for the game? For starters, if you really want to commit to becoming a more focused player, it’s important to ask yourself if you are passionate enough about poker to devote the time it will take to improving something like mental focus and toughness for a game as strategic as poker.

Once you have identified a clear and attainable goal, you can begin the process towards improving the strength of your mental focus. To help you with this aspect of your game, below is a list of tips to give you ideas on how to get and stay mentally focused when it comes to your approach to playing poker:

  • Set realistic and specific objectives for yourself, and try and focus on a goal in terms of the effort which you are expending, not necessarily the end result of the hand or the game, meaning that you should try and gauge your success based on things other than how often you win by breaking down the multiple steps of your game and how to strengthen them.
  • Pay attention to all reads and be present for every hand that is played because you miss out on valuable reads and insight into your opponents’ strategies and tells every time you let your guard down. If you focus on every play, you are more likely to treat each situation as an opportunity to learn something new and improve your game.
  • Improve your technical skills and knowledge of the game, and thus your confidence by spending time to learn other variations of poker to fine-tune your strategy. By improving your overall understanding of how hands are valued and shift according to table-size and variation of play, you get a greater appreciation for the details that are important to focus on.
  • Expect adversity and persist through it! Every professional poker player has experienced difficulties and set backs on their way to success, but it’s always the players who maintain their mental focus and toughness who show the greatest perseverance through adversity.
  • If you are looking to up your game you should have a goal of spending at least half as much of your time studying the game as you do for playing the game. While a lot of the learning comes simply from being at the poker table, most experts advise players to put in the effort outside of the tables in order to really understand the game.
  • Finally, keep your love of the game and of competition alive! While indeed the point is to win, and there is often a lot on the line when you commit yourself to something like poker, the ultimate reason to play is because you are passionate about the game and you enjoy playing!