If you’re going to play good poker, you have to get beyond mathematical poker. The truth is that poker is math, but it’s also strategy. When you add in the human element, things get very interesting very quickly. What you will ultimately have to do is make sure that you are focused on taking care of just about every problem you can think of when it comes to poker. This means that you need to handle the people problem, but you have to be aware of the luck problem. When you combine the nature of people and luck, you’re in for a wildly variable game.
The level of frustration can be high when it comes to losing in poker. You can do everything right based on theory, only to find that you still got sucked out of a great hand. This is something that just happens. We see a lot of frustrated and angry people on forums, bemoaning the presence of “fish”. The truth? Even veterans get lucky when they shouldn’t, and playing marginal hands tends to do that. But what if you had a monster like AA? The truth is that even monsters can be slain — it’s all up to the luck of the flop. Sometimes folding AA is like pulling teeth, but if you’re not going anywhere in the hand, it might be a good idea to either bail, or adjust your image to being much more aggressive than normal. It can save a hand against weak players, but calling stations might just get lucky.
Psychological warfare in poker is often why even the best poker players tend to burn out. They start feeling like it’s just not worth exploring. They start feeling like you have to do a whole bunch of things that you really don’t want to do just to win. Winning in poker is great, but you need to study why you’re winning. You need to look at poker boards. You have to make sure that you’re focused on really getting the job done, versus just going through the motions. Anybody can play poker from the gut, but it takes a different sort to play strategic poker. That’s going to be the difference that keeps you in the game.
Develop the psychological side of poker by really looking at the way people play. Do you have somebody that lunges into every hand, even when they really don’t have anything at the showdown? Keep a note of that. This is harder when it comes to tournaments, because you’re hopping from table to table. Start with a standard ring game or a sit n go. They will provide you with the time to really look at how everyone is playing. This will serve you quite well in the future. Good luck!