Skill involves the obvious of knowing hand and money odds, knowing the game, the players, how to isolate them in a hand, and knowing how to use your stack size and table position to your advantage.
Discipline is perhaps the most difficult thing to master because it involves the seeing, understanding, and correcting of flaws within your own psyche. The majority of the time, hand results will go against you. These negative results may be intermittent, sporadic, or in prolonged episodes. The best poker players understand this. They adjust and handle what the game presents to them with patience.
Discipline also includes other aspects of your behavior away from poker. For example, if you go to Las Vegas to play in a major poker tournament such as the WSOP, you should only play in your best game(s). If you are a no limit and pot limit poker player, don’t play stud, split, lowball or limit games. And of course, don’t over do it on sports betting or other casino games. This will further ‘mess’ with your mind and destroy the essential focus that is necessary to give you your best chance at winning in your best game.
How do I know all these things to be true? Because I have committed as many of these mistakes as anyone, certainly as far as sports betting goes.
You may think that luck cannot be mastered, that is you cannot control the outcome of chance events. This is true. You can’t control luck but you can control how you react to it. If you become angry over bad beats or a bad run of cards, you have allowed a very real aspect of the game of poker to control you. The same is true if you allow yourself to have a negative or defeatist attitude because ‘I never win a pot’. Your character is your luck.
Winning can also control you if you fall victim to arrogance or an inflation of your own ability, image, and/or ego. Allowing any of these inner emotions will cloud your accurate assessment of the game and hand situations. The best poker players handle all these situations with level-headed maturity. They are the ones at the table who display ‘character and class’. No matter what happens in the game, they never seem to gloat or have an out burst of temper. The smart ones also recognize that if you win one poker tournament, it doesn’t automatically propel you to one of the best players in the world.
If you ask any of the top poker players in the world, “Which is more important, winning and losing or making the right hand decisions?”, all of them will take the latter. If you continue to make correct decisions, winning will take care of itself.
In the days of sail, the old seamen use to say, “tis not the gales but the set of your sails that determines the way you go”. This is most befitting of poker, too, since the way you ‘set’ your character at the table has a large affect on your overall outcome in poker.
Hopefully, you now recognize that it’s not how the wind blows, it’s how you set your sails that count.
Take care. Mike Sexton
Mike Sexton is the host of PartyPoker, a commentator on the World Poker Tour (which can be seen every Wednesday on the Travel Channel), and the author of ‘Shuffle Up and Deal’ (which made the NY Times Best Seller list and can be obtained at www.cardplayer.com).
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 26.06.2007.