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When one thinks of card games and casinos, the rush of a poker game likely comes to mind. However, there’s a second, lesser-known game that happens behind the scenes; the mental game that poker players play. 

Poker is as much about strategy as it is about the luck of the draw or hand. Without proper preparation, a player can fall behind in the strategic elements of the game, especially if competitors have mentally prepared. This could result in poor performance, one made even poorer if the gamble wasn’t worth the risk. Over my years of playing, I’ve developed a few tips on being mentally prepared to take on this game. 

Cast Aside Doubts

Before the cards are dealt or the chips divvied up, any poker player should take time to put aside the day-to-day stressors that have been weighing them down. It may be difficult, but it’s important to cast aside business or family matters, should they be ones that have not yet been taken care of. Not only is it important to be fully concentrated on the game, but it’s vital to use card games as hobbies, opportunities for fun and strategy. Poker is by no means a gateway to destructive behavior; rather, it’s a chance to try your hand at a fun hobby.

Become Cool, Calm, and Collected

Factors in day-to-day life bring with them many hazards and stressors, but a seasoned poker player knows that the calmer and more collected someone can be when entering the game, the better their chances are at walking away a winner. Just like familial and business, additional stressors on the brain can steal your concentration and lead to unnecessary losses. Once you’ve cast aside any doubts or external factors from your mind, take a moment to find your center. Take deep breaths, and remind yourself that, no matter what, it’s supposed to be fun and cathartic.

Clear Your Schedule (and Your Mind)

It is also very important to make sure that before entering into a game, you have both the desire and the actual time to play. While you may have the time to engage in a game, you may lack the wherewithal or desire to play. The converse is true as well; it may be that you want to play, but lack the time necessary to devote to the actual game. So, before engaging in any gameplay, you should ensure that you have both the desire and time to devote to the actual game. Otherwise, your thoughts will wander and your personal and professional lives may suffer.

Poker can be fun. However, mental preparation for the game is just as important as strategy and luck. Keeping that in mind can help the discerning player find success and enjoyment, independent of whether or not they play the winning hand!