Why am I playing poker, right now?

That is the question I now ask myself.

If the answer is because I feel confident and want to play... game on.  If i am bored, tired, moody, too distracted.....I think twice about playing at those times.  Or at the very least, slow down/drop down several notches on the buy to see if I can warm up to the game.  Over the past 6 months I have come to realise just how much your mental state affects your game play.

Like many other players, I have struggles with my game.  Ups and downs....sometimes you feel like you have mostly bad luck.  But I would find myself thinking about winning players.,.. and how they do it.  They can't just be super lucky.....there has to be more to their success than that.  What can I do to get there?

I decided to work on my tilt, as a starting point.  I knew from personal experience that confidence can be very powerful in combatting doubts, fear, etc so I studied more.  I put this knowledge to work in my game and listened to advise from others.  This helped a lot - but, as I have learned, playing good poker is not enough to take you to the final table consistently.  I believe that if you rely just on playing good poker plus a little luck, you will have sporadic results, leading you to falsely over-value your ability (i.e.  I am TAG - the first major ft cash I made I thought I had finally figured it out....took me a long to reach another ft after that one). 

Someone wise (Em) once said at a home game table......if you are a good player, you will always get knocked out the tourny when holding a good hand.  This might be a repeat of someone else's quote.....not sure, but I like it - it was a bit of an eye opener for me.  When you realise this, and put things into perspective.....the bad beats really don't seem so bad.  And now that I have some of the basics ingrained they come more naturally to me while playing (i.e. pot odds) - frees up my mind to think about others things....like picking my spot.  But mostly I am self-aware of what I am thinking or feeling while playing - I pay much more attention to this now.   And I try not to play too many tables, so I can focus on what is going on in my tourny.  Make notes -  every tourny, every table.  I find now that I don't often get angry or upset anymore if I lose a big hand/get 'donked'.  This has been particularly useful when recovering in a tourny to re-build a short stack.  My results in recent months have improved, particularly in tournys when I know I am 'in the game' mentally.

I won't stop learning the basics/poker theory, but I now understand that developing your mental game is just as important to your overall success.   Another step towards becoming a better player.   Thanks for reading and best of luck on your poker journey