Poker Psychology: 5 Tips to Improve It

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Poker is a game for those with strong mentalities. Many aspects of the game, such as bad beats and downswings, can take a toll on your poker psychology; however, things like heaters, getting lucky, and winning a tournament can be very beneficial for our state of mind.

Things beyond your control are termed variances in poker. Even if you have the best hand before the flop, it’s no guarantee that you’ll always win. Play to the best of your abilities and hope for lady luck to intervene on your behalf.

However, there are things you can do to poker-proof your game. One of the most effective ways is to cultivate something all great poker players have – mental toughness. If you can weather the inevitable storms and remain unphased, your game will reflect that. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to better your poker psychology:

1. Focus on Your Goals

Our constantly connected world can be a distraction for anyone attempting to excel at poker. In order to win, it’s important that you remain laser-focused and avoid any unnecessary interruptions. If you’re not paying attention to what is happening at the table – including player tendencies, tells, etc. – then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Just know that if you don’t capitalize on this information, someone else undoubtedly will and they’ll use it against you in future games.

2. Be Aware of Your Emotions

The best poker players in the world understand that they need to keep their emotions in check if they want any chance at success. When you win, it’s important not to get too cocky or excited. And when you lose, don’t let it get to you — remember, everyone has bad days (or hands).

If people allow a negative outcome to affect their attitude, they are less likely to make good decisions. On the other hand, if they take too much pleasure in a positive outcome, they might become arrogant and overconfident.

Most poker players strive to remain level-headed and dedicated to making the best decisions possible. Although, it’s easier said than done to keep emotions under control. If you find that you become frustrated or angry easily, it might be beneficial for you to take a break or walk away from the table – as stress management is crucial for success in poker

3. Control Your Mental Toughness

Anyone who’s played poker for a while knows that the game is full of surprises and that it’s really a marathon, not a sprint. Players who can handle the mental rollercoaster ride are usually the great ones. This quality is known as “mental toughness” as many seek for poker mental game tips that would help them enhance their gameplay.

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Mental toughness can be difficult to maintain, but it is integral in playing your best game under any circumstance. It becomes increasingly important when you are experiencing problems or setbacks, as they will affect not only your personal life but also your ability to play well. With mental toughness, you will be able to play consistently and effectively regardless of what challenges come up.

It is increasingly difficult to deny the correlation between a person’s psychological state and their performance in poker. When an individual isn’t feeling mentally tough, for example, it becomes more likely that they will play poorly as a result. 

On the other hand, if somebody can maintain a decent mental state no matter what challenges come their way during the game, then playing well becomes highly probable. So as cliche as it may sound, the state of your mind truly is one of the most important factors in playing poker.

4. Fearlessness is the Key

As listed earlier in this article, keeping your emotions under wrap will benefit your poker psychology. One feeling, in particular, fear, can be destructive to your game if not dealt with. You don’t just want to keep it at bay; you want Fear gone from your psyche entirely. The solution is simple: become fearless.

Being one of the most respected poker pros in the mid-majors, Josh Reichard has earned his place with two Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) titles, a Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) win and 11 World Series of Poker Circuit rings on his resume (third all-time), not to mention more than $1.6 million in career earnings!

He was once asked what one word someone needs to succeed in poker. After taking some time to think, he answered “fearlessness.”

Being fearless leads to better results than playing it safe. When you’re not afraid to go for broke or listen to your instincts, you open up a world of opportunities instead of living in fear and costing yourself potential progress.

5. Discipline Yourself

A clear divide between professional and recreational poker players is discipline. The latter are more likely to do things that the former won’t such as tilting, taking risks, or “gambling,” and chase losses even when they have a sense they shouldn’t.

Disciplined poker players will know how to control their emotions, limit risks and exposure, manage their bankroll well, and more. They have developed the mental strength to ignore harmful thoughts that could make them lose money.

If you’re able to exhibit self-control in your everyday life, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll be able to do the same when playing poker. Some of the most successful players in the world have realized this and have not only taken care of their mental state but also their physical well-being. 

Consequently, what used to be an environment full of older smokers who ate and drank whatever they pleased has now shifted into one where younger, fitter people are mindful of what goes into their bodies and make an effort to stay healthy–both on and off the felt.


There is no one-size-fits-all solution to having great poker psychology; however, the tips mentioned in this article will give you a great foundation to start from. Remember to always stay calm and collected, be fearless, and maintain discipline both in your personal life and at the poker table. If you can do these things, then you’re well on your way to becoming a successful poker player both mentally and financially.