Having a long history of casual poker playing, I’ve come to truly understand and accept the lessons that some of the greats have bestowed upon us to better our game. In essence, the entire philosophy of a great player can fall down to the simple ethos; “Play the man, not the cards.” This proverb implies a lot of sound wisdom in avoiding a strategy based solely on facts and logic and implores the player to gamble.
5 Key Tips
Sound Body, Sound Mind
The days of unhealthy players who drink, smoke, and eat whatever they want have all but come to an end and instead, they have been replaced by players who exercise and abstain from alcohol while playing. The key to this is discipline. Train the body to train the mind; if you take better care of yourself, your mind will take better care of itself.
If you exercise discipline off the table, you’ll be more likely to exhibit more on it.
Stick With It
There will be times in many games you play where you are dealt a bad hand. When you’re dealt a high card and there are looks to be no way out. It’s okay to lose a round and fold early. The important part is to make sure you don’t give up. Stopping for the round is not the same as throwing the game with reckless play after the fact.
A bad hand isn’t the end. Remember the long game and you may be introduced to much better opportunities later on.
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Sometimes you will have a bad hand; sometimes you will lose a round or a game. The important thing is to stay calm and think. Learn from the experience and figure out what happened and what can you do better the next time around.
Losing your temper reflects poorly on you as a player and it lets the other know they can get under your skin. That they can manipulate you into revealing something about your situation and push you to make rash decisions. You cannot think clearly when seeing red, staying calm is always best for you.
Watch for Tells
Watch the other players. Watch their movements, their body language, and speech patterns. When the chips are down observe them for what could be a tell, then cross-reference that information with what their hand turned out to be. You may be able to dissect a player’s game and see exactly what gives them away.
Play the Man
Learn everything you can about the person you’re playing against. Listen to when and how they talk. Engage with them and the more they say, the more you will learn. How have they handled a bad hand? What tone of voice do they speak with? What clues about their personality can you gauge from what information they have revealed?
You are never in a position where you cannot learn something from the opponent, use every second of the time you have while exposed to them to learn.
I hope this proved a useful guide and provided you with some food for thought to improve your poker game.