Long-term gain

Forget about the daily vagaries of poker and get your head down

Poker is about the long game, so forget about the bad beats

You should know by now that poker is a fickle game. Some days you’ll hit your draws, flop the boat with rags in the big blind, and win all the races. At other times it’s the exact opposite.

It’s vital that you accept that’s the nature of poker and realise the same thing happens to all the other players around the table, fish and sharks alike. You can be sat at a table of complete novices whose stacks are there for the taking, but if you’re missing every flop then raking in their chips is going to be that much harder. The biggest mistake you can make in that situation is playing with the assumption that because you’re a better player you deserve to win. Play with confidence, but avoid arrogance because at some point you’re bound to fall flat on your face with only yourself to blame.

Play your A-game

It’s not good enough to be a better player than the other person in the hand – you have to play better than them, too. It sounds simple but I guarantee it’s a mistake you’ve made in the past and, unless you respect the game and other players enough, will again in the future. Protest all you want that you were representing a big hand but if you’re up against a well-oiled salesman who has stumbled into the cardroom and bet every street then you’ve only got yourself to blame when he calls your huge bluff.

Equally, just because you beat someone, it doesn’t mean you’ll do so again next time. As Joseph Heller said in Catch 22: ‘You may knock your opponent down with the chessboard, but that does not prove you are the better player.’ In other words, just because you’ve forced someone to lay down a hand with a big raise does not mean you’ve got them in your pocket. Try it again later and you could find all the profit from your first play is foolishly squandered.

Poker is about the long game, so forget about the bad beats because it’s how your bankroll shapes up over time, not one day, that counts. Every session is made up of individual hands and each of those consists of separate decisions. If you consistently make the decisions for the correct reasons – not bravado or false pride – then you will come out on top in the long run.

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