Nerves impacting your ability to concentrate? (1 Viewer)

rjdev7

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Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I study at poker, watch vlogs, read books, study pre and post flop ranges, when I'm in the heat of the moment at the live table it is difficult to calm my mind enough to be able to remember to call up all of the concepts that I've learned. Later on, when I'm reviewing hands, it's easy to call upon the concepts I couldn't remember during the live game.

I'm thinking perhaps I should have a smaller number of "focuses" that I go into a game planning to work on, like "today I will make sure I calculate SPR for every flop I'm involved in and make a decision on bet size for remaining streets from there," or "today I'm going to focus on a balanced 3-bet range," etc. My hope is that maybe putting more focus on fewer concepts will help me instill them as habits in future games.

Has anyone else experienced this? What have you done to calm yourself at the table and call upon the knowledge you've learned and would ordinarily have no issues remembering in a non stress environment (e.g. analyzing hands after the game is concluded)?

Thanks!
 

Pinkdan

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The human element is why poker will never die imo. The best you can hope for is to play so much that the noise in your head and body clams down. Everyone is different with how much they show up with naturally. But everyone can work to lower it. Keep up the grind man and try a meditation app daily, it’s helped me immensely.
 

Kain8

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Prefacing this that it would be in a casino setting where you're playing for meaningful stakes, not a recreational home game:

Concentration begets concentration. When you're at the table, or even before you sit down, you need to get into your mental gametime zone. That doesn't falter or waver because your thoughts are just on the game and the actions that are transpiring before you. No watching sports on the tv, no looking at your phone, you need to be laser focused.

If even small social interactions make you deviate from that mindset, get up, take a walk, get back in your headspace. If it continues to occur, then the game isn't demanding the attention it deserves to follow through on the concepts you want to execute. Playing big bet poker with all the theories you want to employ is TOUGH. Especially so if you want to do it consistently session after session.

We're not robots though. We will get distracted at times by any outside stimuli, it's how you get back into game mode that matters. The best example of this from years ago would be Patrik Antonius. The guy is a brick wall in a hand, but when it's over, he can relax before the next one is dealt.
 

Coyote

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Yeah, it happens all the time.
You make stupid moves just because you desperately want to have a good time.
Interestingly, when asking myself, I would NOT have made those stupid moves live.

The key is having let the day's steam off through other (exercise, meditation, prayer, sex including its solitary form, :)etc) means and then play poker.
Trying to let the steam off playing poker can be disastrous.
Easier said than done.

At any rate, do not rely your mood on poker outcomes (easier said than done, again).
Poker (i.e. winning at it) should never be your only hope of feeling good for the day.
 

eightyWon

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The best you can hope for is to play so much that the noise in your head and body clams down.

I think this is mostly it.

I play a fair amount of starcraft as well and there's a direct comparison. When you first start playing, or you try integrating new concepts or strategies into your play, your mind is so busy trying to remember and execute that it feels like overload at first. As you play and practice, you ingrain those concepts and strategies (like muscle memory) so you don't have to consciously think about them as much, freeing that part of your brain to work on other things.

It's been a while but I think that concept is covered in The Mental Game of Poker
 

jja412

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Recently, I was in a 3 bet hand, completely whiffed the flop, and was plotting to check raise all-in to take it down.
I checked, the villain says, "All-in" and I hear myself instantly blurt out "Call!" :oops: :oops:
It didn't matter that he ranged to have less than an ideal hand, it didn't matter that I should have blasted that flop, it mattered that I got nervous and forgot I was the bluffer in this hand. Turns out Q high, no draw doesn't beat pocket Aces.
 

Highli99

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Sounds like you are human, which sets you apart from half the GTO automatons these days.

If you're still trying to get the fundamentals of strategy down, id recommend focusing on online where you can put in lot of volume in without the live aspects that are triggering you.

Once you begin to feel confident on the strategy side, and you've built mental muscle memory around simple calcs, it will be easier to approach the live game.

I'd suggest reading books by Tommy Angelo starting with “Elements of Poker” and then “Painless Poker”. These books are not Mathy strat books but they contain mountains of poker wisdom.

Give it time, and soon you’ll find the confidence you need to succeed!
 

MrCatPants

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My nerves are always much worse when sitting at a new table/new place/new group of people. I get unreasonably anxious about the norms of the group (standard opens, 3 bet frequency, etc.) - home game or card room. Unless I'm seeing absolute monster hands (generally in position) I'll let them go for the first two orbits while my nerves settle. Definitely am able to settle in after that.
 

Rhodeman77

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Reading and studying are great, but practice/playing are the best teachers. More actual playing time will help a lot. As mentioned already try to play online. You will get a lot more hands per session to learn from and hopefully less distractions as well.

To paraphrase Mike Tyson: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face

Know what you should do in spots is one thing. Actually doing it when you have a lot of money on the line with A5cc out of position in a 3 bet pot that you missed the flop on and need to fire multiple streets is a whole different animal.
 

ekricket

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?? I play poker just to momentarily feel like this!! I find that after the first big hand I’m settled and much more relaxed. Have to get those jitters first though!
 

Taghkanic

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I think it just takes a lot of repetitions, so that one doesn’t have to go through elaborate calculations on the fly except in really big spots...

I have tried to get to the point where the math part becomes almost unconscious, so that in game I can spend more energy watching opponents’ habits/body language rather than getting the SPR correct down to two decimal places.

Playing a ton online during the pandemic helped me get in a lot more volume and build a more internal/unconscious calculator. Can’t say I’ve fully gotten there yet, but I feel like I’m much better at making quicker, less stressed decisions with the math at least in the right ballpark. But that might be worth trying — some low stakes online.
 

Highli99

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Another strategy is just to buy in short and dust off a buy in really quick. That settles me most of the time, although sometimes I need two bullets to really calm things down.
 

Coyote

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Reading and studying are great, but practice/playing are the best teachers. More actual playing time will help a lot.
Indeed. You can't actually assimilate what you read, unless you also play.


As mentioned already try to play online. You will get a lot more hands per session to learn from and hopefully less distractions as well.
Online, among anonymous figures, can be pretty tricky, psychologically. Folds take much more discipline to make.
The mentality "who is this unknown little prick who wants to spoil my evening" is very easy to adopt and, of course, is disastrous.
You would have folded live.

To paraphrase Mike Tyson: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face
To paraphrase any seasoned military officer, "the plan goes to hell upon the first contact with the enemy".
 

Taghkanic

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Online, among anonymous figures, can be pretty tricky, psychologically. Folds take much more discipline to make.
The mentality "who is this unknown little prick who wants to spoil my evening" is very easy to adopt and, of course, is disastrous.
You would have folded live.

True, but the original poster seemed to be talking about issues he was having with applying math and theory that he’s studying, not the psychological aspects. As long as he remains aware of the different online dynamic, it’s a great way to get in the volume to practice and apply study, In order to internalize / speed up those calculations for live situations.
 
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ekricket

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To help keep it simple, I only keep odds on the few things you constantly draw to, like straights, flushes, full houses in my head. Everything else is situation dependent so I don’t worry about that aspect much. To me the math is just another tool to work on a project with. Sometimes it’s the best tool, sometimes not, so I try not to get too nervous about it.
You rarely do everything right, and you rarely do everything wrong, so relax, your probably sweating the small stuff.
 

Taghkanic

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I also think that being properly rolled for your stakes helps a lot with anxiety/nervousness at the table.

If, for example, you go to the casino with 3.5 buyins in your pocket, And you have another 35 buyins In your poker roll, then even on your very worst day you’re never going to lose even 10% of your roll. That would have to happen 10 more times for you to go bust. And unless you’re playing like a complete idiot, that’s just not going to happen.

Note: For this to work, your poker roll should be truly segregated from all your other money. It should be money you’re comfortable losing in theory, it should not be funds that you need to survive (pay rent, utilities, feed yourself, fix your car, etc.). If you’re trying to live off your poker winnings, almost no roll will ever be big enough to take away the anxiety of a potential loss.

If financial concerns are what’s making you sweat at the table, that would suggest that you were playing too high, and/or with money you can’t afford to lose. In that case I would move down in stakes—or not play poker at all, honestly.
 
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