Dear Poker Counselor: Just after the July 4th holiday I will be flying to Vegas for a month of the World Series. It is so close now that I can hardly think of anything else. I am pre-registered for a few of the $1500 and $2000 events. I plan to hit the satellites pretty hard to get a seat at the main event. This is my first Series. Any advice for me? - Emailed by Luis from Iowa City
The Rio is already buzzing with thousands of poker players, fans, and industry insiders. Some of poker's superstars have been looking forward to this series of events all year. This looks to have the makings to be the biggest and most exciting Series ever played. Not only will there be a steady supply of sanctioned WSOP tournaments, you can expect every poker room in Vegas to be more busy than normal with tons of daily tournaments up and down the Strip and cash games galore. While this may sound like a poker Mecca to you, my advice is to be sure that you do not get foolishly swept up into this abounding excitement. I've seen many newer players crash Vegas during the World Series expecting great things, only to see their bankrolls dashed and their hopes crushed in a short time. Money management & psychological management will be vital keys during your long stay in Las Vegas. Too much energy and excitement can heavily cloud your decision making. It tends to fuel a desire to gamble. Surviving tournaments and cash games at the World Series is not about gambling, though. In reality, it is more about grinding. You should invest long hours playing solid, steady poker. Your goal is to get your money into the pot when you have the statistical advantage. Over the course of a month of poker, you will see the positive cash flow effects from doing this rather than allowing adrenaline to force you into many coin-flips and chancy plays. A month of poker at the WSOP is truly work, not a vacation. You will have thousands and thousands of consecutive decisions to fold, call, or raise. You have to get your mind set for that. Beating and outwitting your opponents is secondary to the primary goal of controlling yourself and your own emotions. When you get wrapped into the emotional roller coaster effect that the World Series can induce, you are fighting a tough battle to make good decisions. With that in mind, I'd suggest that you ease into play by buying into a few lower limit cash games when you first arrive. Concentrate on making good, appropriate decisions. Self-monitor to see if you are under control emotionally. Inspect your play carefully to see if you are playing differently than you might at your local casino or normal home game. Work your way into your normal levels, but keep up the task of consistent self-monitoring to be sure that you are on a good track. When tournaments time nears, be sure that you are well rested and sharp on the day that the cards are scheduled to be dealt. It looks like many of the events this year (especially Hold 'Em) will be capped with the number of participants, meaning long, grueling hours at the tables for those who make it to the money spots. Be sure that you are physically and mentally prepared for this. Overall, stay confident and play sharp. Take time to evaluate yourself and your play. Never make a move without pausing to think through your decision making process. And, of course, remember to enjoy the ride!
Dear Poker Counselor: I have an odd habit of talking to myself when thinking. When I play online, I will often be talking to myself about the hand, the other player's tendencies, etc. The thing is, when I play in live games I want to do this, too. I automatically feel like I should be talking things through to myself. What do you think is going on? - Emailed by Don
Your habit may not be as "odd" or uncommon as you think. Talking aloud to oneself is a very common strategy that many people with attention problems employ to help keep them on track in school, at work, and even at the poker tables. In fact, some counselors and therapists suggest that their patients with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) try this in order to help them narrow their thought processing and concentration. When you play online, your mind may be racing in a manner that compels you to check other websites, watch the nearby television, or hold a conversation on the phone. Talking to yourself provides a self-commentary that is a natural pathway towards staying in focus. Talking through the hand helps you to weed out extraneous information and shine the spotlight on the clues to the hand. In live action games, of course, talking to yourself provides a natural problem. Players nearby would love to listen intently to get a read on your mindset and your thinking. I would suggest that you supplant the verbal self-talk with other options. Perhaps you could carry a small notebook to the tables to log your hands, your actions, and the outcomes. This activity would be a very effective tool at focusing you in the moment, as well as becoming a learning tool when you review the notes at a later time. During a hand, you could turn your compulsion to talk out a hand aloud onto your opposition. Put your focus on the other player and ask him questions, all while looking for a reaction or tell. While you put him on the hot seat, you are also aiding your brain in its attempt to decipher the hand and stay on target. The key is that you are fining a way to hold that steady focus that is such a key in poker.
KEEP THOSE QUESTIONS COMING!!! Carlisle14@hotmail.com
Ed note: Party Poker have multiple tables available at every limit, 24 hours a day.