When you’re on a winning streak, motivation isn’t hard to come by, but when things start plateauing or going against you, you might find that finding motivation to play is more difficult.
Even though poker is a phenomenally fun game, it’s extremely mentally and emotionally taxing, which makes it very easy to burn out. But when you’re trying to improve as fast as possible, or make a certain amount, putting in a significant amount of quality playing hours is crucial.
Here are some ways to stay motivated on a regular basis.
1. Create a Hand Bet
Competition often breeds hard work. What many players do is bet with other players, either individually or in a small group, to play a certain amount of hands in a month. Everyone puts up their share of the bet before hand, which should be a significant, but not huge amount. Everyone that hits their target for hands played splits the pot, while those who do not make it get nothing back.
You can decide before hand how many hands you want to play. Sometimes everyone in the group aims for the same amount, other times everyone can choose their own. The bet gives you that little extra motivation to gear up and play when you could easily just slack off.
Do this for a few months in a row and you will have developed the habit of playing a serious amount of hands on a regular basis, which will lead to long-term success.
2. Base Expectations Off Limits, Not Desires
Every player has done it. Thinking, “If I have a winrate of 3BB/100 and can play 500 hands/hour, I can make $X/hour. Then if I play X hours/day, I can make $X,XXX a month!”
The amount that you need to play in that situation is typically dependent on how much you would like to make. The problems come when you determine that you would need to play 30 hours a week on a consistent basis, and you’ve never played over 20 before. It’s a lot easier to say you’re going to do something tough, than actually do it.
What generally happens is that a player realizes they need to take a break or they can’t play their A-game. As you get behind your “schedule”, it becomes even more daunting and can cause even experienced players to seize up.
Instead, start with a low goal of quality time at the table, say 5 to 10 hours a week. Do this consistently for a month and re-evaluate. If you feel you can play more, bump it up slightly, an extra few hours a week. Each month re-evaluate until you get to the point where you feel like you’re playing the right amount on a personal basis.
3. Play for the Game, Not the Money
I’ve yet to meet a good player who didn’t enjoy the game when they first started playing. At some point, instead of just playing for enjoyment, the game turns into a job where money is the goal. Once you start playing for money, every bad beat and downswing hurts even more and takes an emotional toll. You set yourself up for a lack of motivation.
Instead, focus on playing well and enjoying the game. If you do that, you’ll improve faster, and the monetary results will come as a by-product. Realizing this is one of the keys that all winning players make in one way or another during their career.