The psychological aspect of poker: A lesson in semantics

Online poker strategy forms the bedrock of the game. For many players, scant attention is paid to the psychological aspects of the game. Unfortunately, this has proven to be the downfall of too many players. The irony is that those same players will spend massive amounts of money without any understanding of the nature of the competition at the table. The human component of poker is arguably the most important aspect of it.

Poker games require a dual focus: Compiling the strongest-value hand, and getting inside the minds of other players. A wealth of data is available on poker psychology. This field has been extensively studied by behavioural scientists and poker professionals across the board. Whether its small stakes gameplay at private poker tables, or the Main Event of the WSOP, poker psychology is central to success in the game.

An innate understanding of online poker players at your table will help you to anticipate calls, raises, re-raises, sometimes even bluffs. By gauging player sentiment, you will be better positioned to read their hands. By avoiding going on tilt, emotionally-based play will not sway your decision-making processes. Poker psychology is less about other players than it is about understanding oneself. Few games require as much mental acuity, perseverance, and understanding as Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi-Lo poker.

The astute poker player understands that every decision is based in rationality. It would be foolhardy to blame other players for all the hands that we choose to play. As a rule, only play premium starting hands and avoid trash cards. According to a legend of the game, ‘If you look around the table and you can’t spot the sucker, it’s you!’ Great poker online players don’t blame Lady Luck for their misfortune; they take responsibility and learn from their mistakes.

 

Let Go of the Ego – It’s a Barrier to Success

Anytime we are thrust into a highly competitive environment, one of two things happen: We sink or swim. The best poker players are acutely aware of competition, strategy, bankroll management and dealing with large numbers of obnoxious players. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s far easier to navigate tournaments with egomaniacal players than it is with strategy-based players who are looking to do precisely what you are – play the player at his own game. Once you dispense with the ego gobbledygook, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of poker. It’s a fine line to tread between pride and purpose. Poker doesn’t care about your overinflated opinion of yourself. It’s a game of mind power, much like chess. It’s your moves not your posturing that counts.

The art of delusion has been bandied about in poker nomenclature. Whether you’re playing Texas Holdem, Razz, Omaha Hi-Lo, or Caribbean Stud Poker, you will find many reasons to strive for mental toughness in your approach. Going on tilt is never a good thing – emotionally-based play is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Some of us play poker for the social aspect, while others play to win.

 

Grounded in Reality: The Art of Successful Poker Play

Regardless, there are ways to improve your ability, agility and aggregate winning record in games of poker. The best Texas Holdem players got that way through trial and error. They bulldoze their way through failure, in pursuit of success with poker online, tournament poker, and private poker tables at prestigious poker rooms like 888poker. To become the consummate poker professional, it’s important to understand the intricacies of the game, its rules and the players who compete in it.

While many of us defer to the online poker gods like Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Dominic Nitsche, Sofia Lovgren and Chris Moorman, we can be the best versions of ourselves by looking inward. Sure, there are fabulous poker psychology books on best tactics for Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz and Stud, but the beauty of the game rests in our ability to effectively read our opponents. There are several unique playing styles to adopt in poker games, including LAG (loose aggressive), TAG (tight aggressive), loose passive, and tight passive. Most poker players can be boxed into one specific type of category.

For example, loose aggressive players are forceful in all that they do, and they don’t care about throwing their chips around. They are animated, garrulous and obnoxious at times. Their poker strategy is based on bullying. The best strategy to cope with an online poker bully is to let other players take the bait while the competition gets whittled away. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’re facing passive poker players, know this: they are conflict averse. They won’t be baited, and they are likely to be more conservative in their play. Instead of being pigeonholed into one category or another, be mercurial in your poker play and use psychology to take down monster pots.

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