Playing poker well is a great deal about consistency. It’s about both learning an “A” game and habitually playing it. Learning strategies comes from studying, focusing on the game, books, videos, computer programs and discussions with other good players. But, many who realize an “A” game, fail to consistently apply it.
Discipline and concentration are essential poker ingredients. You need the discipline to prepare and maintain yourself to play your best. I often see knowledgeable players, burned out, unfocused, playing sessions in bad games because they are stuck and can’t emotionally handle losing. Being well-rested, feeling your best and having a clear mind free from personal stresses will improve your decisions. Often, we are not aware when our mind has deteriorated. Take the time to enhance your self-awareness.
Concentration makes you aware of the nuances of the game you’re in. There is huge edge in knowing your players, thinking about exploitive plays that work against them, and analyzing and learning from your mistakes.
How’s your concentration? Is your mind on the game? Are you playing with your phone? Are you going over hands as they play out? Are you contemplating about how your opponents are thinking? Are you deciphering your opponents’ ranges? Actualizing all this takes a lot of mental energy, and you’ll need to develop concentration skills. Some of this comes from personal health development: the healthier you are, the clearer your thinking and the better your concentration.
Practice! The more you concentrate, the deeper your concentration develops. Awareness, including self-awareness, and concentration are essential ingredients to successful play. Making your decisions based on the highest level of information attainable to you will both help your game and your growth.
Being in tune with yourself and your surroundings has huge value. When are you at your best? Are you a morning person or a night person? Are you in the mood to play competitively, or are you just dutifully putting in your hours? Is the game you’re playing soft enough to be worth playing? Are you comfortable in the game? Are you relaxed with the stakes? Does it fit your style? Are you emotionally affected from a bad beat, going on a rush, or personal issues?
A less knowledgeable player who nearly always plays his “A” game is likely a bigger favorite than one with better knowledge who’s inconsistent. Some players have very wide proficiency ranges and while they know how to play “A”, they play their “F” game way too often. It’s easy to become bored, complacent or emotionally affected. Don’t fall into that trap. Be self-aware, think things through!
I understand these things are easier said than done, but you’ll be amazed at the difference in your results if you consistently actualize your “A” game.