“All players think they’re great at poker.” — Alec Torelli, professional poker player and entrepreneur

Playing poker well demands the right skills and the right mindset. Bringing both to the table maximizes your chances of walking away a winner — but too many beginners concentrate on the skills and overlook the mindset.

And this can lead to disappointment, frustration, and bad decisions.

This is why it’s so important to understand the mentality of poker — including the following four factors.

Remember: You Still Have Things to Learn

Arrogance can set you up for a rude awakening in most aspects of life, including poker.

You might get lucky early in your poker career. Maybe fortune smiles on you, you have a good game, and win more cash in a few hours than you would during a full week of work.

That’s a fantastic achievement, and an even better feeling. But you need to remember that one or two great victories doesn’t make you an expert. You always have things to learn about poker.

Pay attention to the best players. Study videos of their most successful games online (hello, YouTube). Look at their techniques, their quiet concentration. Read up on strategies and well-established practises.

In short: put time into filling your brain with as much valuable information as you can. Even if you think you’re not absorbing it all, you may just surprise yourself at the table.

Allow for Variance in Your Game

Even the best poker players lose. Nobody is guaranteed to win every single time. And this can be a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you start racking up a string of wins.

Poker involves a huge degree of skill, but there’s still an element of randomness at its heart. This is where variance comes into play: sometimes you feel unstoppable, other times you just can’t seem to parlay your well-honed techniques into hitting your expected value.

Think about the factors that could contribute to this variance between your expected and actual winnings. For example:

Are you playing out of your league? In other words, have you sat at a table with more experienced, more skilled, more ferocious players?

Are you playing on tilt and you’re just in the wrong headspace to be at your best?

These are just two potential contributing factors, but they illustrate how you can exert some control over your variance. Just remember it’s not all down to skill and choices. Some days, other people will win. And that’s fine.

Being Good Doesn’t Guarantee Big Wins

You’ve won ten games in a row. You’ve beat recognized players in a major tournament. You’ve amassed a small fortune in winnings and feel the fire in your belly to earn more.

But just because you’re good (or even very good) doesn’t mean you’re the best player at every table. Or that you can expect to walk into any tournament and scoop the top prize just because you have a solid reputation.

This ties into the first two points we’ve looked at: you can’t afford to be arrogant and you need to remember variance happens. All the skill and talent in the world can’t make you the world’s greatest poker player in a matter of weeks or months. It takes commitment and drive.

When you remember this, losses will be easier to take, and you’re more likely to enjoy your time playing poker, too.

Make Sure Your Personal Issues Don’t Lead to Bad Decisions

Finally, try to avoid tilting.

‘Tilt’ is a common poker term for players becoming frustrated or confused after experiencing a bad loss or bad form from others at their table, leading them to make bad decisions during a game.

You may be more likely to tilt if you bring personal issues to the table. If you’re facing major upheaval in life, either try to leave them at the door or don’t play at all. You could lose patience, spend more than you should, and cost yourself money by making the wrong choices.

As you can see, the mentality of poker is complicated — it’s far more than just playing a game of cards.

But accepting that it has an element of randomness and that other players will beat you sometimes can make it all the more rewarding. Want to get started? Learn more about the best online poker sites here.

Author's Bio: 

Alex is a professional writer and digital marketing expert.