Here are three keys to playing well in poker

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By Matthew Gregoire

I always have tried to focus on improving every aspect of my game over the years. I want to have discipline, solid bankroll management and I want to play optimally. These are difficult to perfect so the best a person can do is constantly adhere to a set of guidelines to achieve these goals. The one I want to focus on here is playing to the best of my ability as it combines all of these issues into one equation.

Discipline is important for any player since almost all of us set guidelines before we set foot in the poker room or on the virtual felt. One of these rules normally is we’re going to try to not make stupid mistakes. If a playing error occurs, we must be prepared to correct this issue or adhere to a punishment we deem fitting.

If I make a mistake, I will evaluate it and decide if I should continue to play. I hold myself to a high standard at the table and try to make the perfect decision as often as possible. If my play is substandard, I will leave the game without hesitation regardless of the situation. My obsessive behavior keeps me on my toes and focused at all times.

Bankroll management is crucial in every part of life, especially poker. If you don’t control your money you end up broke or in debt and it only leads to stress and dismay. At the poker table, a player must play within the comfort zone of his bankroll, otherwise it’s difficult to make correct decisions. For certain players, it can be easy to play with a shallow stack in a bigger game as the tough decisions are restricted because of the amount of our money invested on the table, while other players wish to be as deep as possible to make the financially sensible decision for any specific hand. Either is not a horrible thing as long as you have a reasonable expectation of what can come at any time.

Playing optimally is a combination of the other aforementioned examples. You must have the discipline to make the right moves at what feels like the right time while being financially responsible with your bankroll.

The more experience we accumulate enables us to build an instinct capable of providing us with information we previously didn’t have. A gut feeling will sometimes tell us a raise is the correct move while other spots will have us simply folding second nuts because you just know your opponent has it.

Writing these articles are a fantastic way for me to dive into these thought processes and I hope it helps readers get their juices flowing while playing. If you’re creatively thinking during your sessions and adhering to your guidelines, success will soon follow.

— Matthew Gregoire is a pro poker player living in Miami.