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Plan Ahead to Play Better – Pre-game Planning

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Plan ahead, play better

Playing the online game has many well-documented advantages and disadvantages. While being unable to see your opponents facial expressions, posture, and other tendencies, he or she cannot see yours either. Another fundamental difference between the two in the limits and constraints of your pre-play routine.

Unless you live in or next door to a casino, there is some rigamarole in getting to a poker table for live play. You have load up in your car, find parking, and put yourself on a waiting list for a table if none are open. Of course you may take the train, bus, or even walk if you’re one of the rare poker athletes out there. Regardless, there’s a process and that process takes time.  That time is an investment in the act of play that day. For some, that investment adds to their focus, allowing them time to get their mind into the game and even think through how they want to play that day.

Online is different. With the advent of mobile apps, you can jump into a game anywhere. And by “jump in”, I mean two or three clicks and you can have pocket aces staring back at you. One should be so lucky. In short, the web and mobile technology have removed so many barriers for the fanatic to play. However, it exposes impulses more readily. It’s worth revisiting the value of having and deploying a pre-play preparation plan for the online game.

Take Time

Have you noticed that there are more adds for playing poker on your smart phone? 10 hands in the elevator, another 20 in the back of a cab. They are imploring to you that you can play anytime and anywhere. But beware. Being impulsive and playing a few hands as you sit in the waiting area for your root canal may not be the best circumstances to play your best. While the technology is magnificent, it is important to identify a window of distraction-free time to play. Remember, if part of the joy of poker is building your bankroll, you want to eliminate the leaky parts of your process of performance. Distractions and impulsiveness are killers.

Count Hands

So you’ve eliminated these obstacles and created the time and space to play. To keep the focus you want as you play, try using hand counts in a strategic way. For instance, break your play into chunks and evaluate how you are playing. This is something you should do in advance. After 50 hands, for example, ask yourself questions like Am I playing my best? What do I want to do differently for the next 50 hands? These markers can keep you from drifting into an unprofitable style of play.

Spectate

We all know the benefits of finding the right table to play on. No one wants to be stuck in a rock pile for hand after hand of boring, unprofitable poker. Once you have identified a good table by analyzing the stats afforded to you in the online lobby, don’t just jump in once a seat opens up. Playing good poker is mostly about finding an edge and running with it. Exploit exploit exploit. One of the edges that is rarely seized is pre-play analysis of your opponents. At best, most online players will not post until the next big blind. This means they will only witness up to 4 hands on 6 max tables and 8 hands on full-ring tables. What can you learn in such a small sample size? If you are lucky, you can pinpoint the fish and the donkeys. It costs you nothing but a few minutes to collect more data. Give it a few laps. Pay attention. It will be much easier to categorize your opponent and, in turn, reduce early play mistakes because of it.

Pre-game planning need not be complicated. Since few take it seriously, it can offer you an edge in your online game. Because of the mobile trends, your opponents are bound to show less patience as the game moves forward. A little planning can keep you ahead of them by ensuring you are focused and informed before you are deal it and as play moves along.

Kelly Doell, PhD is a mental performance consultant. Learn more about his work at www.KellyDoell.com

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