The Joey Del Experience: Stale Patches, Goal Setting and Dolphins

Posted at 23:47 2009-10-19
How is everyone going? If you are reading this from the Southern Hemisphere, I imagine all is going pretty well as it is now for the first time in months it is starting to get that little bit warmer! The warmer weather however brings with it all sorts of temptations of outdoor activities. Things like going to the beach, exercising (shudder) and late nights spent in beer gardens (now we're talking!) which can keep you from the poker table. The question is however, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I wanted to write some thoughts on this topic this week. I get a few newer players who ask me for advice in many different situations and something that I have seen coming up more and more of late is the fact that they are not putting anywhere near as much time playing poker as they had hoped.
This is a situation that you need to look at in a couple of different ways. First of all is it a bad thing?
If poker is not your sole source of income or you play as a hobby than I would suggest to you that this is not a problem. Poker is meant to be fun and not a chore. If the mere thought of sitting down on the computer to log in a few hours of play is tearing away your will to live then I would suggest that you are probably not going to play that well anyway so you could be doing yourself more harm than good by actually playing.
A great example of this is to make sure that you actually are able to play poker for the next five hours before you start a tournament on Party Poker or one of the other online poker sites. I see so many people who will see a tournament starting and quickly log on to start playing. They then realise that they need to leave the house in an hour and a half or that they just can’t be bothered playing. You are literally just throwing away the buy in money every time you do this!
So whilst it is relatively easy for social and hobby players to take time off, some people are relying on poker for an income stream and in many cases it is their sole source of income. So in these situations it is not so simple.
It is still true that players in these positions will often do themselves more harm than good when they play when their mind is not interested. If you need to play poker to make money you still need to play. I think it is this mental discipline that separates the good poker players from the professional poker players. I think many people are excellent at playing the actual game of poker but to play every single day without ever faltering (well at least only minimal faltering) takes the kind of mental stability which is basically unheard of for your average man.
So like I said this whole topic came up because a player who I talk to a bit was telling me that he was really struggling to stay motivated with his poker and was finding it difficult to put any real hours together. He would find that he would sit down, play for half an hour and then start to go on tilt for no apparent reason.
This is a very difficult situation to be in, but one that we all go through from time to time. I offered him some advice that generally works for me. When I am in this kind of situation I feel I need to treat myself like a puppy dog or a dolphin or some other form of stupid animal that gets rewarded for completing little tasks. I use this to set myself goals. Let’s look at our current friend’s example where he can’t play for more than half an hour at a time. One of the main reasons I think this happens to people is because when they sit down to play poker they have no real end in sight. They just start playing when they feel like it and stop when they feel like it. I personally can’t work like that. When I start playing I need to know when I will finish, I need an end goal in sight.
So I said to my friend that if this is an ongoing problem you should try to set yourself an achievable goal and reach it. If you are finding you can’t play for more than 30 minutes without going on tilt then set yourself something close to that that you can reach and feel good about. For example try and play for 45 minutes, once you reach 45 minutes sit out of all the tables and take a break.
It may seem silly to only play for such a small period but the whole point of the exercise is to have a little personal win. Instead of constantly leaving the computer in a disappointed and frustrated state of mind you will be happy as you set yourself a task and achieved it.
This will make you want to play more sessions as you will think ‘oh well it is only 45 minutes’ and you will start to play more. After a few days of this you can up the sessions to one hour and by taking small steps you will find yourself playing more and more in no time what so ever!
This may work for you and it may not. If you find you need something else feel free to ask me or any of the other great poker players who frequent the PokerNetwork Forums!


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Joey Del shares some tips to help keep you fresh on the poker tables Joey Del shares some tips to help keep you fresh on the poker tables

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