You need to compete every day, on and off the poker table

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Each day the fires within propel us into a highly competitive mode. How we prepare, react or accept the outcome is what defines us.

Understanding advantages you have in life (and at the poker tables) and looking for the slightest edge will allow you to succeed at a better rate than opponents or co-workers. This can be the difference in achieving your goals.

In The Art of War, there’s a statement relating to this subject: “To defeat your competition, you have to defeat their strategy.” The competitive nature in each of us searches for ways to combat the many styles, experience and range of skills possessed by opponents, all while not discounting the “gambler” in them.

We’re all subject to the effects of “luck” and at times “stupidity,” or what approaches it, that may look foolish, but those conditions are out of our hands. It’s imperative for us to be prepared to play “our” game and try to factor in every intangible.

Players possess all sorts of skill sets. Some are aggressive and skillful in winning pots they shouldn’t. But through an ultra-aggressive style they win pots by taking charge through unrelenting pressure. We sometimes face players who can wait as long as it takes to find the perfect hand to maximize their profits.

Conversely, we’re often faced by a growing number of impatient individuals who think any two cards can win, so they enter many pots. They act as unwanted gnats, which on occasion we get to swat away (but not before we relieve them of their bankroll).

Physical and emotional preparation may allow you to succeed at a faster rate. Poker is not for the weak, sick, tired or distracted. Maintaining a mental frame of mind that’s conducive to accepting criticism and implementing new strategies (sometimes out of the box), will aid in your quest to become better qualified to compete.

A number of players never reach their goals and one major reason is they can’t control emotions. They have deep, indefensible feelings and they allow conditions and others to affect their play. When outplayed at the table or tilted by some well-timed comments, emotional instability can wound even the most skillful players. It can get the better of them in an instant and ultimately ruin an otherwise profitable session at the tables.

No matter how good we think we are or what status we may achieve, the majority of successful players try to improve their game every day. Your goal may be to become competitive first, and then setting your sights on becoming profitable.Once these milestones are realized, many players focus on becoming champions. It’s not in your best interest to remain content. Continue to seek more guidance and knowledge otherwise you’ll be passed. When playing poker, every day is a competition for winning.

— Al Spath is a professional poker instructor/mentor available for hire online or in person at Atlantic City, Las Vegas or at Delaware Casino. Contact him at alspath@alspath.com or pokerinstructors.com.