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The Poker Counselor's Corner (8)

The Poker Counselor's Corner (8) 0001

Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and practices in his home state of Pennsylvania. He has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Lock Haven University. You can arrange for interviews, speaking engagements, or ask your question to "the Poker Counselor" at

I recently started to play poker online. At first I was making some $ but I guess I got carried away emotionally and I have fallen into a bit of a hole or maybe a big I am trying to develop a good strategy to earn back the $ that I have lost. I plan to make $50 per day. I believe if I play on a table with an average pot of $100 like a NL 5/10 it would be easier to make $50 a day because of the pot size. If I lose the $50 for the day I am out and if I make the $50 I am out, whichever comes first. I think if I bring at least a $300 bank roll to the table that would be good. I feel I am an average semi-tight player. What do you think about this strategy? If you have any other advice, that would be great. - Posted by Tom at online forum.

There are quite a few different key points for you to think through and/or reevaluate before taking your next flop. On a positive note, you've identified that emotionality and general personal psychology are key elements to long term success in poker, as you admit that you have gotten carried away emotionally. We can see that you have indeed set specific a goal — $50 profit per day. The drive behind that goal is what initially concerns me, as you are desperately trying to "get even" by using a new scheme/strategy. Such quick-fix ideas often lead to disastrous results in poker. Whenever you are motivated by emotions, such as frustration after a run of losses, you are displaying a true manifestation of tilt. Many players mistakenly assume that tilt is a temporary phenomenon, thinking it lasts only a few hands or a single playing session. In reality, tilting emotions have affected some players for amazingly long runs of their career (months and years.) Without realizing it, you've begun an internal battle with yourself and your emotions. At the root of your tilt is probably a sense of insecurity. It is amplified by a common mistake that many newer players make: you are measuring your poker ability by your overall bankroll. At first, your emotions ran high and your confidence soared during your hot streak. Now, a few losing sessions have directly attacked your already wavering self-confidence. If you were more confident in yourself and your poker abilities, the losses would be much easier to accept and handle. I always encourage players to use their financial wins and losses as a secondary evaluation tool. The first evaluation is a relatively simple self-inspection, "Am I getting better and what did I learn?" I've had evenings where I have dropped several hundred dollars and still considered the evening a success. In those times of bad runs and bad beats, I am often more able to see the holes in my game, identify sloppy plays, and learn from the skilled players who are taking my chips. My advice is to forget about your scheme to quickly re-coup your lost money. Instead, work to learn from your past mistakes to minimize the likelihood of a repeat performance. Start to believe in yourself and your ability, and never allow yourself to hang your self-worth on your win/loss tally. After you've put those pieces of the psychological puzzle back together, you can be certain that your losses will slowly come back into your bankroll on your normal tables. Also, remember that poker is a lifelong journey, not a single event. Make it happen.

Counselor, Poker used to be so much fun for me. Now that I play online nearly every single day, it just isn't the same. What are your thoughts? - Submitted via email by Douglas T. from Missouri

In a recent article for a poker magazine, I wrote, "poker is a lifelong marathon, not a sprint." Over the course of your poker career, not only will you will change remarkably personally, your overall outlook on poker will inevitably change as well. I find that many new players have begun to feel a sense of disenchantment with the game. It seems that their initial zest for poker caused a full-forced "sprint" in the beginning, as they logged thousands of hands online, read many instructional poker books and websites, and watched every TV show that involved poker. The thrill of the game, the promise of easy money, and the intensity of the competition drew them in, but this may not enough to sustain them. I see you in a similar place right now, as the next faze of you poker marathon has begin to set-in. As poker continues to grow to become a part of who you are, it will have a certain role in your life and self-perception. It may not always fill that need for unbridled excitement as it did with your first tournament, but it will still feel some psychological needs of comfort and belonging. Likewise, it will be a continual enticement that drives you to improve, compete, and feel mentally alive. Poker has not changed, but the way that you experience the game has begun to change. Accept and adapt to that fact, and I'm certain that you will continue to enjoy the game in a different way.

Ed note: Want to be a member of the club? The action is always hopping at London Poker Club

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