Every poker player has his/her days where you just second guess all your decisions and nothing seems to be coming off.
Days like this are natural to anyone playing poker and after all, we’re only human so we can’t perform at 100% at all times.
That being said, there are ways in which you can prepare yourself to give at least close to your 100% at all times. This can be done by implementing a proper warm-up routine!
There is no ‘perfect’ routine, however, since every person is different. But a poker warm up routine should accomplish three primary goals:
- Eliminate distractions
- Help you to reflect on what you’ve learned recently
- Steady your mental state
Let’s take a look at all three separately
- Eliminate Distractions: Poker is a complex game and always requires you to have complete concentration. Isolating yourself from distractions can be key if you want to maximize your win-rate. Here’s how you do it:
- Use the restroom. Taking breaks is good, but ideally you wouldn’t have to abruptly pause right in the middle of a session.
- Put your phone away. You don’t have to turn it off—just make sure it’s out of sight so that you’re not constantly distracted by messages and notifications.
- Sign out of social media. There’s no need to be checking news feeds and chatting with friends while playing.
- Have a snack if you’re hungry. Playing on an empty stomach can cloud your judgement.
- Make sure your partner/family/housemates won’t disturb you. You don’t have to be overly assertive, here: a friendly reminder or a sign on the door will do.
- Have water on hand. Staying hydrated is crucial for keeping your brain operating effectively. Having plenty of water nearby means you won’t have to get up to get some mid-session.
- Shut out the noise. This one is for those of you living/playing in urban areas—car horns, police sirens, etc., can easily break your focus. Close your windows, listen to music, or find some other way to shut out noise that could distract you.
2. Reflect On Your Study Sessions: Studying the game is as important as actually playing it. However, it is pointless if you fail to apply what you’ve learned. Therefore, making sure that what you’ve learned over your previous study sessions is still fresh in your brain. Take a few minutes reflecting on it before playing.
One of the easier ways of doing this is by applying what you learned to scenarios you’ve actually experienced. For instance, let’s say you’ve struggled with playing post-flop after defending the big blind with a weak hand, but that you recently read a great PokerShots article on that topic, did some range work, and now want to apply what you learned during an upcoming session. You should take some time to think about recent hands you may have over-folded or over-called in the big blind. Try to recall your thought processes, and ask yourself how you might have played those hands differently in light of what you’ve recently studied. You might discover that you need to make just a small adjustment to your playstyle, for example. Or maybe a more significant change is needed.
In any case, by bringing up gained knowledge to bear on past experiences, you’ll find yourself better equipped to deal with certain situations that you were not able to before.
Also Read : TOP SIX TIMELESS CLASSICS TO READ ON POKER
3. Steady Your Mental State: Like I said before, we’re all humans and it’s completely normal to be affected by human factors like fatigue and emotional states.
- Before a session, take a few moments to assess your mental state to eliminate factors that could significantly affect your play. If you’re feeling tired, for example, it might be best to take a nap or wait until tomorrow to play. Are you feeling unusually stressed or irritable or sad? Poker is emotionally challenging enough as it is, without bringing emotional baggage to the table. Take some time to address what’s troubling you before you start playing.
- Even when you’re feeling good it’s important to take a few minutes to enter a neutral state of mind. To this end, do something relaxing before you play—listen to music, meditate, etc.
- Even a brief period of relaxation will help you mentally prepare for variance. You might bust a tournament in the first hand, or lose two buy-ins in the first five minutes of playing. That’s okay. What isn’t okay is letting short-term results dictate the rest of your session.
Simply because you sit and play poker doesn’t mean that you don’t have to warm-up and prepare your mind and body for what’s to come. Even the biggest players in the world have their own warm-up routines so that they can continue crushing everyday like they do!