There is a lot of material on the internet already about the best strategies and tips to improve your game. So, don’t worry. I will not bore you with another article that covers those same points. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about some techniques that have nothing to do with strategic aspects of the game and that have helped me a lot throughout my career. Read? Here we come!
Load a Session Only When You Feel Well Rested
One of the many great things about poker is that you have the power when, where, and for how long you can play. So, why push it by loading tables when you don’t feel your best? To fulfil a daily volume quota? I don’t think so. Build a habit to play only when you’re fully rested. For this, you need to get your sleep and embrace the session fully loaded in terms of energy, concentration and focus.
Take Breaks In-Between Sessions
This is mostly true among tournament players. Why? The effects of sustaining a routine of playing for 12-16 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week can quickly accumulate and negatively influence not only our game but, more importantly, our health. That is why it is essential to take breaks between sessions. Personally, and after many years of testing and teaching, I have found that playing 2-3 days in a row for each day of rest is by far the best balance I have found.
Play Only the Games within Your Bankroll
Trust me, I know it’s tempting to play higher limit games to either “test the waters” or worst, play above our stakes to “recover” the losses from our session. I can’t stress enough how dangerous this is. This can easily and quickly scale and when it does, it’s going to be very difficult for you to stay in control and stop before something terrible can happen like, losing all your money or, even lending money or giving away your car or something similar as collateral. I know this sounds crazy but, I’ve seen this happened so many times it doesn’t amaze me anymore.
Take a Moment before Acting
Never play in a robotic way (sorry robots, nothing personal). By this I mean, don’t rush into making a decision even if you know 100% what the best decision is. Acting fast will make you predictable. So, make sure to take your time before making a decision even if that decision is folding.
This is a habit that costs me a lot to develop. But now, I can’t play without taking notes on a particular player. Even if it is a player, I already have notes on. Because you never know, perhaps he/she evolved as a poker player, and I need to update the notes I have on here/him-
Make sure to take notice of all the critical elements of the situation and not just the decision he took on XXX board. Also take into account effective stacks, your image, table dynamics, stage of the tourney (if applicable), etc. You won’t believe how valuable this will turn out to be in the future.
Review Your Top Hands from Previous Sessions
This has been another fantastic and highly valuable habit I was able to build over time. Before playing, I always go over my top 5 or 10 hands from the previous session as well as my bottom 5 or 10 hands. Why? I want to be sure I won/loss those pots without any help or assistance from variance. I want to isolate my reasoning behind my decision making and be 110% confident I would’ve made the same decision a million times over.