Shake it off. That’s what the coach always tells you when your team gets scored on for the fifth time in a row. That’s what your training tells you when you hit the ice after missing a jump during practice, and it practically screams it if you miss a jump during a competition. The attribute that so many pro athletes share is a mental toughness that often surpasses their physical toughness; at least, in those who go on to become true champions.
So what, if anything, does this have to do with playing poker? Perhaps more so in poker than in physically demanding sports, where you can use physicality to either blow off steam and frustration, or to intimidate your opponents, the ability to keep a sharp mental toughness is paramount if you want to progress in your game beyond the occasional winning night; especially if you are entertaining ideas of becoming a pro poker player.
Why is mental toughness so important in poker? Everyone who has played for more than a few games not only has heard the expressions “Tilt” and “Steam” but have experienced them first hand. If you let a bad beat affect you, or the jabbering of the guy sitting across from you, or the long hours of playing, or the even longer hours (in your mind, at least) of getting no cards to play with; if you let any of that affect you, then you are bound to lose money at some point.
If you want to keep your wits about it you the poker game, then you need to borrow some techniques used by pro athletes as well as card players. Never let the other players psyche you out. If they do anything at all that gets under your skin, they’ve got you right where they want you. Also, stay focused at the task at hand. If you find yourself unable to hang on to your focus because you are steaming, take a walk. It will be worth missing a few hand to recover your focus.
Keep those mental toughness skills sharp!