Poker-faced: the psyche of a successful player

Poker-faced: the psyche of a successful player

The game of poker has existed since the 17th century and is believed to have derived from either from the French game known as “Poque” or the Irish game of “Poca”. It is clear that it has deep-rooted origins in the Mississippi region and was well-documented as a game played by the year 1800. Gambling is an intrinsic part of the game, as players use their bets to strategic effect. Being a good poker player takes a lot of skill and a certain amount of practice. You have to understand the nature of the game and there are many different offerings.

Officers playing cards by Library of Congress

A game of surprising variety

Poker was traditionally played by groups of people sat around a table, but the internet has allowed online versions to develop yet still offer a wide variety. Online operators have several different online versions of poker such as Caribbean stud, Texas Hold’em, and three-card; some casinos even offer live casino variations of the game that see human croupiers deal cards in real-time via the power of live streaming. All follow a similar concept but with slight variations. Texas Hold’em, for example, sees the player dealt two cards face down and the five community cards that are dealt face up in three stages. First you have the “flop”, which is the first three, then the fourth known as “the turn”, and the fifth, known as “the river”. Players have to make the best hand of five cards out of the seven available.

Sailors playing Texas hold'em by US Navy

How to be successful

It is very difficult to be successful at poker, but the traits required are similar to those required in other sports. You have to be able to read the body language of your opponents, as well as disguise your own emotions so that people are not able to tell whether you have a good hand or not. This is a key part to the face-to-face version of the game.

You have to study all aspects of the game because knowledge is power and the game is constantly developing. Even if you have an intimate knowledge there is always something else to learn whether it be from other players or from studying books. Having this insight will help give you the advantage.

You also have to act in a professional manner. Poker may be a game but if you are to be successful you need to prepare yourself properly to play. One lapse in concentration could undo hours of good work and hard effort that you have put into a game.

Mental toughness is key

Having a mental toughness is a key part of a poker player’s success. There is more and more evidence that suggests that low mental toughness leads to poor play and the opposite is true for those with high levels of mental toughness.

There are several different areas that define this mental toughness and they can be described in the following categories:

  • Self-Motivation: The ability to drive yourself forward and motivate yourself to improve all aspects of your game is a vital component of a good player.
  • Determined: Showing a determination to keep going when faced with a setback.
  • Self-confident: Trusting your ability while not making excuses for poor play or your own mistakes. Even during a bad run a player with this attribute will still have plenty of self-belief.
  • Calm under pressure: When the stakes get high it is important to maintain clarity of thought and keeping calm under pressure is massively important for a poker player if they are to make the right decisions to win.
  • Emotionally controlled: Emotional control is important, not letting the frustrations of the game takeover is vital as it can be easy to get angry or let fear of losing cloud your judgement and lead to poor choices.

If you think you have what it takes to be successful at poker then there are many opportunities to test your skill levels. Playing online is the most convenient way and will help a player get a good grasp of what is required before trying it face to face but if you have the knowledge and are mentally tough then chances are you will do well.

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