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The 3 Most Important Dynamics in Poker: Focus

Before I get into the gist of this series let me start off with a DISCLAIMER: Quantifying the importance of different strategies, concepts, and theories in poker is often a difficult if not impossible undertaking. For one thing, different situations put an emphasis on different strategies and concepts. For instance, when you are playing a 10 Big Blind stack in a tournament the only thing that is of importance is getting your chips in the middle with some fold equity, where playing in a cash game with 200 big blind stacks there are a multitude of factors to consider: position, cards, your opponent’s tendencies, table dynamics, your table image, and so on.

Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way let’s get down to business and discuss the Three most important factors players need to know and utilize while playing poker.

  • A Solid Understanding of the Basic Strategies
  • Focusing at the Poker Tables (Tells)
  • Adjusting to Different Opponents and Table Dynamics

Focusing at the Tables

When you are playing poker you are basically on a fact-finding mission. Reading a newspaper, watching TV, surfing the Internet, or conversing with your neighbor would be like studying for a test and skipping every third paragraph in your text book. When you are playing poker you need to focus on the game, your opponents, and even yourself.

Think of it this way; how many times have you been playing cards and seen a player make a terrible mistake only to lament that they weren’t paying attention and didn’t know the action? It happens multiple times in every session; players don’t realize a pot has been raised, or act out of turn, giving away chips and valuable information.

As a poker player you must focus on the game, just like you must focus on the road when you are driving; there is no way around it and the consequences are deadly.

Of course, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, since poker is a fairly boring game with long moments of inactivity. But there is always something to be learned by focusing on the game and your opponents, not to mention a way of staving off tilt if you keep a close eye on your own mentality throughout the session.

Here are a few ways you can maintain your focus at the poker tables:

  • Leave the distractions at home or turned off: Phones, iPads, etc.
  • When the dealer shuffles the cards at the start of ah and ask yourself, “How did I play the last hand and am I in a good state of mind?”
  • Every time a hand is revealed or you pick-up a piece of physical information on an opponent add a point; every hand that is played where you learn nothing subtract a point, and see how you do at the end of each session.

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