Poker is game of partial information. The more pertinent information we have, the better chance we will win more pots and be able to build them up in size. I have often written about the importance of focusing on the game and paying attention to gain as much information as possible. That gives us a decided “edge” over our less attentive opponents. Mistakes are often made when a player becomes distracted. That can happen whether in live games or when playing poker online. Analogy: It is like driving your car on the freeway while using your smartphone. Statistics show that will lead to almost 25% more car accidents. Do not let it happen to you. Self-discipline can help you avoid such occurrences. On the other hand, distractions are the enemy. There are more distractions from the game than you might realize; and they happen so often. Let us examine some of the more common ones: Chatting with your neighbors at the table or friends standing behind you as a hand is played. Chatting with the cocktail waitress while the game is underway. Is that more important to you than the game? Engaging in conversation over your cell phone. Meanwhile, the action is at the table. You may miss some obvious tells. A typical hand of poker lasts just about two minutes; think of all you are missing while being distracted. Eating a meal while playing. That may also disturb your opponents and soil the playing cards. Best advice: Take a break from the game during that time. Drinking alcoholic beverages while playing. Your mind needs to be as sharp as possible. That is why poker experts try to be well rested before sitting down at the poker table – and keeping it that way. Reading a book or magazine while the game is underway. Is that more important than what is happening at the poker table? That is not the time to be reading a poker book, even if it teaches you a new skill. Do it at home, or while taking a break to enjoy your dinner. The stock market is important if you are an investor, but the poker table is not the place to get the latest investment news. Watching the big TV mounted on the wall. Just look up from your table. A big basketball game is exciting but it can make it harder for you to make the key decisions so important during the poker game. There is a sudden commotion at a near-by poker table. Someone just won the Bad Beat Poker Jackpot. There is a rush of people to that table. It has been said that “curiosity killed the cat.” That is a common cliché. It is your choice when it happens near your table. Bottom Line: There will always be distractions as you play the game of poker – often many more than you realize, no matter which game you choose. Your best bet is to have the right mindset and use self-discipline to avoid them. Let your opponents make the big mistakes… About George EpsteinAfter a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for our defense and space programs; teaching specialized engineering courses at UCLA, other colleges, and at seven NASA centers; introducing advanced composites into Air Force space systems; and creating the Air Force Manufacturing Problem Prevention Program (has helped avoid costly failures and anomalies for space systems), He has authored many engineering reports and books; and is listed in American Men of Science; Leaders in American Science; Who’s Who in the West; Dictionary of International Biography; and Personalities in the West and Midwest. Since “joining” the poker world, George “The Engineer” Epstein has written three poker books – most recently, Hold’em or Fold’em?– An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and The Art of Bluffing. George has organized poker groups at two senior centers, at West L.A. College, and at the VA/West Los Angeles, including teaching poker classes.He is a columnist for several poker and gaming publications. George has been elected to the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame, and was named Man-of-the-Year by the Westside Optimists, primarily for his efforts in encouraging retirees to learn and enjoy the game of poker. He firmly believes that playing poker will help to keep seniors/retirees mentally and physically healthy.
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