Create and attain your SMART poker goals



From the American Psychological Association: “Sport psychology is a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations.”

My major goal in this column always has to be introducing concepts that can help you play better, meet your goals, and make the endeavor profitable and enjoyable.

There’s such a wide range of players and categories; folks need to pick and choose what will help them.

Poker has been defined as a game of numbers, game theory, reading patterns, reading tells and knowing how to deal with tilt. It’s a simple yet complicated game.
So from this vast array of skills, what do you choose? First, let me warn you about confirmatory bias. You choose math and ignore people; you choose tells and body language and ignore betting patterns. We sometimes have mastered an aspect of poker and, of course, overestimate it.

So what you do have some control over is you. You must choose your goals and decide what you want from this endeavor. When setting goals, review some of the pervious columns I have written, but a brief tutorial is:

Create SMART goals:

SPECIFIC: What, who, when, where, why? I want to play two tournaments a week and want to see specific improvement.

MEASURABLE: How much, how many, how will I know? I will cash in one tournament a month.

ATTAINABLE: I will get some coaching, read some poker books and watch videos. Set aside the time to play and reassess in six months.

REALISTIC: Is this realistic in my life? Are there enough tournaments I can play? Do I have the bankroll?

TIMELY: Do I have the time to play these events? Timeframes are vital.

Goals are not golden rules. They are designed for you to set a pace and are open to realistic change. It’s important to have short-term goals, intermediate-term goals and long-term goals. Start working on some goals. When you’ve reached one that feels good, write it up and keep it with you. Also, tape it on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

If you are really brave, talk about your goals with a poker friend, and, as always, keep your head in the game.
— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine