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The Poker Trance: The Ultimate Poker Mindset

When I am in the middle of a poker session, there is absolutely nothing else on my mind except poker.

I am not thinking about work I have to do, what I am going to do tonight, or what the scores of the games are on TV. I don’t care, I am playing to maximize my opportunity for profit. Everything else is secondary.

Patrik Antonius

I didn’t start out like this, in fact, I used to be very distracted.

Playing on the internet creates a lot of chances to distract yourself. You have an infinite source of information at your fingertips, it can be tough to not want to browse around.

For this reason, I like to play multiple tables at once. I like to play enough tables to the point where I am making a decision almost every second at a different table. This forces you to focus on the game and leaves no window room for distractions.

This has some disadvantages however. If you are prone to tilt, you might lose a lot of hands in a row for big pots and be pissed off. This will only lead to you slipping away from your A game and making more mistakes.

Although I like to believe I don’t tilt as much as I used to, at times poker can be very frustrating. There will be times where I wont cash in 40 straight multi-table tournaments and it just flat out sucks. Tournaments have such a big luck factor that you really can’t be upset about it.

One of the best ways to counter tilt is to meditate.

Meditating is easily on of the best things I have done to develop my game and my brainpower. I simply don’t care about losing anymore. I have seen every bad beat possible and I have gotten extremely unlucky deep in big tournaments to the point where some players would want to throw up.

I have lost massive chip lead pots with the best hand only to have an unlucky river card end my whole tournament. The first few times it happens, it is a disgusting feeling, but it just makes you hungry to be back in that spot again. The times that I win that monster pot deep in a tournament, which I will statistically more often than not in the long-run if I get my chips in ahead, I put myself in a position to take down the entire tournament.

With a massive chip stack, I already know I am extremely dangerous because I like to play a huge stack like a complete maniac. I like to use fearless aggression to put as much pressure on my opponents who have smaller stacks.

A huge stack is such a weapon if you are an experienced tournament player because you are comfortable deep in tournaments, and don’t care about the money. I have played over 1000 multi-table tournaments and I have seen every beat possible so I simply don’t even care anymore. I don’t care about the money, I care about having all the chips in play at the end, and that is easier achieved with a huge chip advantage over your opponents. For this reason, I am more likely to gamble late in tournaments for a shot at a fat stack.

When you think about the money, you tend to play more passive to try to move up in the money spots. By doing this, you lose the chance to accumulate more chips, and if your goal is to truly win, you are going to need all the chips at the end anyway, so start building now. As the chip leader, you are never all-in, so you can never be all-out.

I pride myself on the ability to just laugh at how unfriendly the cards can be sometimes. Cards don’t have souls. They don’t care about you and they don’t care that you have lost the last 20 hands to a bad beat.

When I sit down to play, I like to have music on. Music helps me focus and puts me in a trance when I am focusing externally on the game. It is almost like a mental euphoria. It keeps grinding long sessions entertaining as well.

In live games, I have my headphones on as well. I am not always listening to music however, I like to pretend sometimes that I am not listening to table talk. I want people to think I can’t hear anything they are saying. In turn, I don’t give away any information by not speaking, but pick up everything my opponents are saying.

Hearing people discuss hands is extremely valuable. I can immediately size them up on their skill level and figure out how to play certain hands against them profitably.

I don’t feel the need to talk to anyone at the poker table, only if I am playing a game with my friends. I don’t want to give away ANY information. I am here to take my opponents entire stack, not make friends. At the table it is all business.

Poker is supposed to be a social game, and that is the stigma attached to it. Most people go to the casino poker games to have a good time and enjoy themselves. These are the people that I make the most money off of. They don’t care if they win or lose, they want to have a good time and gamble. It is these players that make poker a profitable game to play.

Focusing on the game can be extremely hard to do at times. You have to meet your human needs first. Be extremely hydrated, and make sure you aren’t hungry. If you are thinking about food, you aren’t thinking about poker.

I am a completely different person at the poker table than I am in any other situation in life.  This is my time where I feel I am at my complete best. Information is bombarding me from every direction, and I have figured out how to manage it all to give myself the best chance to win.

Many professional athletes coin this term “the zone.” I like to describe it as a zoned out focused euphoric trance. Poker requires no physical ability, leaving more room for your brain to think strategy and not worry about being sweaty or exhausted from physical exhaustion.

I slip into a highly focused, highly observant, highly aware state to maximize my expected return from my investment of time. After all, time is money, and I am going to make the most of my time to maximize my win rate.

There have been times where I have been so focused on the game that I have absolutely no idea what time it is, and I don’t even care. The clock is another distraction. I like to cover it up when I am sitting at my computer. Your mind likes to judge yourself on how long you have been playing and it can be distracting.

To play poker for long sessions, especially live tournaments that might span over multiple days, you do however need to be physically fit. Sitting at a table for 12 hours a day can have a toll on you if you aren’t in shape. You can guarantee a stiff neck and back for the next few days if you aren’t addressing your physical fitness.

I don’t set a exact time for how long I will spend in a session. Obviously in tournaments I have to play till I win or I bust so that is taken care of. Online, if the cash games are very juicy, I am willing to play until I have to pin my eyes open to stay awake. Big chances for profit rarely come, and when they do, you better be ready to sit for as long as possible.

There have been times where I would start a session at 9pm and not stop playing until 8am the next day.

I know I am going to have to have that ounce of sickness to come out profitable. I can’t take poker lightly. 90% of all players are long-term losers, I want to be in the top of the 10%. I don’t care how people view me, If I did, I probably wouldn’t have pursued poker.

I treat my poker as a business and the only way for my business to be successful is if I treat it as seriously as possible. Many people find poker as a form of entertainment and for me it is, that is why it doesn’t feel like I am “working” when I am playing.

The biggest thing I value about poker is freedom. Freedom to play whenever you feel like, at whatever stakes you feel like, knowing there are always games to play around the clock. I don’t like having a set schedule, I like to be spontaneous and open to any new opportunity that presents itself each new day. If I want to play 10 hands or 10,000, I can do that. I don’t have to show up at 9am, and stay till 5pm. Alternatively, I can show up at 9am and play for 24 hours straight if the games are good enough.

It all is a gradual learning process. As you grow your poker mindset, you grow as a person. Poker requires life skills and learning poker can help you in every aspect of life. Poker will make you evaluate yourself and make you brutally honest with yourself if you want to succeed long-term. Take a look at some of my other articles if you wish to improve your game as much as possible.

Good luck at the tables.

More Poker Strategy:

Top 5 Reasons You Lose at Poker

My Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Booking the Win at Final Tables

Top 10 Reasons You Should Play Poker

How to Play AA For Maximum Profit

How to Overbet For Massive Value

How to Develop into a LAG (Loose-Aggressive Player)

Additional Strategy, Sports Betting:

The Three Tenets of Profitable Sports Betting

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