An often overlooked skill needed to thrive at the poker table is staying aware of what is happening to you and your emotions in the game. There are a few things you’ll want to be aware of at all times in your poker session:
1. Is the game good? What is a good game one minute can be a bad one the next. This is something you must constantly reassess. One hand might totally change the perception you have of an opponent. Allow this to happen. If the old man with a visor makes a great play, maybe your previous assumption of him as a poor player is incorrect. The work of profiling your opponents is never done. You cannot make up your mind about everyone at the table in the first 30 minutes and spend the next 6 hours operating under those assumptions. New information will unfold. Players’ moods will change. The players themselves will change! Think of your poker game like the tide; it is always changing. Notice when the game has changed for the better. Notice when the game has changed for the worse. Factor all of these observations into your decisions at the table, including your decision to stay or go.
2. Is your mind right? Sitting down to play poker in the right frame of mind is good. Continuing to play after your mind is no longer in the right frame is bad. Continually reassess your mental state in every poker session. How are you feeling right now. Are you in the flow of the game? Is your focus on what is happening immediately before you? Or is your mind wandering? Are your emotions fluctuating? What are you feeling? It is true that your decisions at the poker table will be more profitable when you are focused on the game and holding an objective, rational mind. When your mind begins to drift elsewhere or a negative mood sets in, that may be a good indicator of the conclusion of your session. If you are tired, go home and sleep. If you are sick, go home and rest. Poker is something that should only be done when you are feeling fresh and at your best.