#5 - Control

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  Control  All men and women are born, live suffer and die; what distinguishes us one from another is our dreams, whether they be dreams about worldly or unworldly things, and what we do to make them come about... We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live. -Joseph Epstein (Essayist) Poker, as in life, is a game of choice. You make the correct decisions, and you will be rewarded over the long run. Make incorrect choices, and your bankroll will slowly bleed away. With poker, as in life, we have many choices, the most important choice is how we choose to take control of our game. Through my observation of poker players behavioral patterns, the dialogue on 2p2, a lot reading and personal experience, I strongly believe the path to success at the poker tables begins by control over your life, your emotions and complete control over the choices you make at the poker table. Control   Control of your life  I don't want to come off as too preachy or Doctor Phil-like here, but IMHO success at the poker tables over the long run correlates to healthy life choices. In my personal experience, I play the worst when there is unhealthy stress in my life. Whether this comes from tension with loved ones, overwork, or any number of things, stress affects my ability to make correct choices at the table. I found that making some very simple, basic changes in my routines affected my ability to think, and reason at the poker table.    Eating well    Sleeping well    Staying active    And Maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships Control of your emotions  This has been, and still is, one of the most difficult challenges for me as my poker game progresses. When I tilt, I tilt A LOT. Though some players seem to have a zen like ability to deal with the variance inherent in the game, I (along with many others) do not have that mental fortitude and patience, though I am improving. My lack of control of my emotions has been very costly. Only recently have I slowly been  improving my emotional control at the poker table. IMO, tilt control/reduction begins with a strong emotional foundation. A healthy, positive attitude will often do wonders for your game. I am a classically trained cellist, and one of my professors was from Argentina. One day I brought my cello to a lesson, but we didn't work on the pieces I had memorized and prepared for my lesson, because she knew something was wrong. In her thick accent she told me, You know, everyone in Argentina has a shrink, its good for you. Ultimately we spent the whole lesson discussing my personal life and how unrest at home and pent up aggression and anger were affecting my ability to perform. She suggested taking a vacation, I did, and came back refreshed with a new attitude on life and towards my instrument. Consequentially, I began making better decisions, my playing improved, and I went on to perform a concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and accepted the position of principal cellist in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. In short, control over your emotions will improve your decision making. Complete Control  Actor Gary Collins once said, We can try to avoid making choices by doing nothing, but even that is a decision. As he so succintly put it, every action we take is determined by a conscious choice. When you have complete control of your life and emotions, your ability to make better decisions at the poker table will increase exponentially. The ultimate goal of course, is to get to an almost transcendent state of decision-making at the card table where we can see our opponents cards and make perfect decisions according to the Fundamental Theorem of Poker. Though there is only so much we can control at the poker table, you have complete control over your decisions. By making good life choices, you will find that you are more observant at the poker table. You will feed off a new stream of information that will allow you to make more correct decisions. You will feel yourself controlling the table: changing gears appropriately, raising where you should raise, calling where you should call, and folding when you should fold, complete control.  _______________________________________________________________ This post was not intended as a guide to success at the poker tables or in life. This is mostly  just some of my random musings on Poker and Life. Though this post probably belongs in psychology, but SSNL is my home, and this is my 2500th post. Thank you for reading and allowing me to wax philosophic for a bit. SSNL has been a great home for me. SSNL is also constantly improving, with AJ as a mod now, Post content is improving and the signal to noise ratio is increasing. I look forward to the future of SSNL.
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