5 Tips for Staying Focused at the Poker Table

But then that player disappears for a few years and we barely hear anything more about the player at all. I know not to eat to many carbs before I play a long session. Until there are just a few players left or the blinds get too high, hold fast and pick your spots. Get some rest before starting and ignore TV and other distractions. Don't let yourself open other tabs or have the TV on in the background. The constant ups and downs of poker are enough to make anyone question his or her sanity at certain times. Or use your PokerNews account:

1. Maintain Tournament Focus

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It also demands that you remain tight and aggressive in your own game, never getting too high after a win, never getting too low after a loss. Composure and patience, that is the key.

Complicating matters is the fact that every opponent has different traits and styles. You must study how they react to the pressure of a bet, how often they bluff, what they call with, in order to build an effective mental strategy. Of course, the mental approach to poker is important at a real table. But here you have other factors to consider, body language, communication, etc, whereas within the online poker community everyone is just a caricature on your screen. You cannot look into their eyes or study what they do with their chips when they are in contemplation of the next move.

Couple this with the fact that online poker is so fast paced and each player so nondescript you need to pay close attention to what is going on to be effective, hence the mental approach to poker really does come to the fore. Key factors to look out for are a do people bluff, if so from what position and how much?

If they are the latter, think about moving on, this is the kind of player that dictates terms at your table. However, it is important to understand that just like a downswing, they are not normal. They are the result of a lot of short-term luck being on your side. Recognize them for what they are. The reverse is also true. When things at the poker tables are going unbearably bad it is very unlikely to be a large aberration from your actual results.

It is that short-term luck is dumping on you in a serious way. Even at the very lowest stakes, the best players in the world can have a losing day if the cards are bad enough for them.

It is important not to get too high during the heaters but also not to get too low during your downswings. The truth regarding how you are playing is usually somewhere in the middle, and in the middle is the best place to be emotionally, too, avoiding extremes. Some of my biggest breakthroughs in this game have happened during my darkest hours.

Because these are the times when I put the most effort into trying to find out what is going wrong. I will spend countless hours running filters in my poker tracking program and analyzing hand histories, especially losing ones. If I played live, then I will discuss the hands with other top players whose opinion that I respect.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself or worse yet, looking for someone or something else to blame for my lack of success , I try to view these times as an opportunity to get better. It is fine to get upset when you lose. You should get upset when you lose. However, the best players will channel this energy in a positive way. They will view downswings as a cue to redouble their efforts away from the tables to improve and learn from their mistakes. The constant ups and downs of poker are enough to make anyone question his or her sanity at certain times.

But this is also part of the beauty of the game. Eat and drink healthily as a regular rule, and save the fatty foods for rare occasions only. Try to eat a balanced diet so your body and your brain are operating at peak efficiency.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. Both impair judgment and wreck your memory. Make room for physical activity, and get regular and frequent exercise.

Counterbalance this unhealthy activity with plenty of exercise. If your body is healthy, your mind will be healthy, too. Improve your focus by spending some time getting to know your own mind. Make the effort to truly pay attention to times that your mind wanders or that you become distracted. Start writing down times that you notice your attention has wandered. Write down what distracted you and why, and if possible, write down how much time you lost to the distraction. Once you become aware of these distractions and focus-breakers, they are already beginning to lose their power over you.

You may start to notice a pattern. Maybe you become less attentive at certain times of day, or you lose focus because you are hungry. Spend time writing down your focus-breakers for a week or two, and you will start spotting your patterns.

When you see them, you can figure out what to do to avoid them to always maintain sharp, clear focus. A short-term fast can be beneficial to you in some ways. When your stomach is full, blood is diverted to this area to help you digest, and this can slow down your reflexes and make you feel sleepy. But when you fast for a brief time, your metabolism speeds up. This keeps you more alert and more mentally aware. On the day of a tournament or an important poker game, try not eating.

Taking a total-body approach will help anyone be more successful in any career they choose. Work on improving your focus by keeping your brain muscles sharp.

The more you work out your brain, the better your brain will work. That means that you will be able to make decisions more clearly and quickly and think more logically.

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