You might be, like many on-line players, fairly new to the game, or maybe a little stale. You read articles here and there and play many hours of limit Hold’em on-line. You have had a bit of success but also regularly leave the tables having lost a few dollars, but not thinking about why it happens.
Winning at poker becomes easier with confidence but how can you achieve confidence without relying too much on the luck of the cards. You will definitely have to know when to fold cards before the flop but let’s say you know this and can play a good tight game but also bet aggressively with the right cards.
That is half the battle but not all of it. It is common enough to start off a session playing a good game but how often does a session go on and on finally ending when you are having difficulty recouping what is now a loss and battling to keep your eyelids open? “Too often!” is an answer I would bet on.
It is good to have a sound game, but that game has to be managed and have your full attention. When attention wanders, so do the potential profits, and with those, your confidence. So, one way to maintain and improve confidence is to plan ahead and regulate your sessions.
Decide what level of limit poker feels comfortable, and set a profit target for the session. Try something like 15 or 20 times the big blind. Then set yourself a time limit of an hour or less. Your aim is to play your normal game (at limit, this is likely to be tight and aggressive) while you are fresh and build the profits. When you make your target or the time is up (whichever comes first), quit the game, leave the screen and take a break. This will stop greed taking over causing you to eventually lapse into tired and losing play. Do something else that needs doing, or watch TV. If it is late, quit for the night.
After your break, join another game and run the target and time limits once more. What this should achieve over time is a build up of regular short, sharp sessions when you are alert. It also helps to record your performances – all of them, wins and losses. Should you find yourself becoming agitated or careless because of a run of beats, quit the game and take a break. Only play when you feel positive. The more winning sessions you record, the more confident you will feel.
You may soon find you have the confidence and bankroll to move up one stake level. This could also be a target. Say you started with $200 and played short sessions on $1/$2 limit tables. You could set a target of 20 sessions and $400. When you have played 20 sessions, look at your bankroll. If it has exceeded $400, start the same process on the $2/$4 tables with an $800 target. If you have not made it to $400 by 20 sessions, keep playing $1/$2 until you have made it to $400. Then go on to the new target.
These are ideas intended to maintain focus and prevent tired play. Be disciplined, keep a record, and you should do much better.