We are not all the same at the poker table

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Sports psychology can play a part in your evolution as a poker player. You have to be a poker player who wants to put in the work, perform at your peak and move up the ranks. If you play recreationally and don’t worry too much about improvement, enjoy. Don’t feel guilty. Most athletes, professional or amateur, don’t do this and they still enjoy their activities. For most folks, poker is an enjoyable recreational activity that has moved from home games with friends to the poker room. This move increased the desire of many to improve.

For me, the worst part of the game is the criticism folks receive for “not playing right,” who are there just to enjoy an afternoon or evening away from home. Sure, everyone likes it better when they win; but not everyone is in it for the winning. Adjust your game after you determine why you’re there.

Do a little soul-searching and define what kind of player you are or want to be; don’t feel guilty or as if you have to play like someone else. And if you’re a regular or are more serious, don’t criticize the novice or recreational players. One of the joys of this game is anyone (with a stake) can sit at almost any table with anyone and play the way they want.

There are many types of poker players: novice, occasional, recreational, avid recreational, serious non-professional, semi pro, grinding pro, professional and elite. There’s also the gambler who “happens” to be playing poker in the guise of any of the types I’ve mentioned.

Of course the goals might be different, and if one decides to move up the chain, goals and other aspects of sports psychology becomes more important.

Find your style of play and comfort zone and decide how and where you want to be playing. Play your game; don’t beat yourself up if you don’t perform at the highest levels if you don’t put in the work and please don’t criticize the play of others; give us all a break. Keep your head in the game and play your game.

— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. His column will give insight on how to achieve peak performance using poker psychology.