Whoever angers you, controls you

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Control can take various avenues, but is it affecting your attention? I asked a number of $1-$2 no-limit hold’em players who were quick to provide their take on how emotions play a significant role at the table.

“Yes they can distract you a bit, but hell I very rarely pay 100 percent attention to the game, something I need to work on. However, I am guilty of one thing, though, and that is if someone is being a real jerk. Belittling comments and angle-shooters seem to trigger me the most.”

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“Once, I allowed a little old grinder in Vegas draw out on me. I had two pair. He drew and hit the river for his flush so shame on me. I can live with that, lesson learned. After the hand, though, he smugly grinned at me and giggled. I still fume just telling it. By morning, after reliving it all night long, I realized I should be blaming myself; I let him do it after all.”

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“Personal attacks can definitely affect the player. The damage inflicted to an individual because of his or her perceived shortcoming is usually more than I can handle. How we want to be treated and how we treat others affects all of us even when we are not playing.”

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“Who or what controls me? I like to think that when I play, I am the only one that controls me, but there have been several instances that alcohol did control and affect the way I played. So I try to refrain from using alcohol when playing. The results from it were devastating and I know that I can’t mix drinking and poker together.”

It seems pretty clear that control of emotions is a must when playing poker and equally as clear that players struggle with this issue. Can you avoid tilt or at least prevent “steaming” when things don’t go your way or when someone creates a situation that angers, frustrates or infuriates you? I hope so, because there are players just waiting to test your patience and discipline. Don’t let them anger you or control you.

— Al Spath is the former Dean at Poker School Online and continues to teach poker online and live. His free YouTube Poker Channel (Al Spath) has hundreds of instructional videos to view. Al’s live broadcasts are on TwitchTV: follow (PositivePokerInsiders). Contact Al directly at alspath@alspath.com with questions coaching inquires.