Poker Mindset Moment: MindSet May NOT Be Most Important at the Poker Table

Waht might be more important than your poker mindset?Poker Mindset Moment

Every year when the World Series of Poker® is in full swing, poker players seem to come out of the woodwork looking for solutions to what ails them at the poker table. They are looking for answers to their poker mindset issues.

They seek advice about a particular hand they screwed up, about a situation that put them on tilt, or they rant about how unlucky they were.

Rarely do their minds go to their positive play. Why should they? It’s the screw ups they need to fix, right?

All that negative energy literally becomes static or white noise, drowning out what is really important. It reminds me of the poor television reception from the late 50’s and 60’s when we used rabbit ears on top of the boxy sets.

Today, we might call it TMI, Too Much Information.

An overload of info is something that I deal with continually as a Poker MindSet Coach. Whether it’s coaching real time during a poker tournament, in a private poker coaching session or during my regular 1-on-1 group coaching sessions for my elite clients, learning how to train and be coached is part of the process.

Take the WSOP® as an example.

The sessions are long, the breaks short and far apart. When you have a break, you have priorities.

Poker MindSet Tip: Your first priority must be physical, your body.

If that sounds strange coming from a Poker MindSet Coach, today, I want to talk about our physical needs surrounding a marathon poker tournament.

During a break, it’s usually straight forward: food, water, making room for both. However, too often poker players are spinning out of control and disregard their basic needs. We have a distinct connection between our body and our mind.

As a society, we have continually focused on our mind-body connection and overlooked the importance and power of our body-mind connection. The current flows both ways.

Let’s face it. We must take care of our physical first. That’s our foundation, just like training for the Olympics®. Unfortunately, since poker is a mind game, poker players often overlook the importance of the physical.

Abraham Maslow was a Poker Mindset Coach

There was a psychologist named Abraham Maslow, who proposed a theory of human motivation back in 1943. I believe he was right on target. He laid out 5 levels of human needs in a pyramid design, with each building on the next. The bottom and largest foundation block was physiological. Each level built on the other until a human being reached the highest, which he called self-actualization.

Mindset Key

What always interested me the most was that Maslow proposed that regardless of how high a person was on the road to self-actualization, or in our case becoming the consummate poker champion, when a ‘lower’ need rose up, it would naturally take precedent over everything else. Rather than getting to the top and being done, we must continually satisfy those lower needs.

Maslow's theroy of human needs teaches poker mindset

Maslow's needs chart - teaches poker mindset

Frankly, I never liked Maslow’s use of the terms lower vs. higher needs; however, it’s a fact, that the most self-actualized people must continually satisfy their physical needs. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, at this moment in life, we are having a physical experience.

It’s same with your poker game.

  • If you go into a poker tournament sleep deprived, that will knock you off your game.
  • If you are a cigarette smoker, the unsatisfied physical urges will knock you off your game.
  • If your back hurts, that pain will knock you off your game.
  • If you’re uncomfortable in the seat at the poker table, that physical discomfort will knock you off your game.
  • If you’re hungry or thirsty, that will knock you off your game.
  • If you need to go to the toilet, that physical pressure will knock you off your game.
  • If you forget to breathe, duh… that will knock you off your game.

Physical always takes priority.

An email just dropped into my box from one of my high school classmates that cracked me up and is appropriately on point.

A college class was told they had to write a short story in as few words as possible, and the short story had to contain the following three things:

  1. Religion
  2. Sexuality
  3. Mystery

Here’s the only A+ short story in the entire class:

“Good God, I’m pregnant; I wonder who did it.”

Now, that’s an example of how a physical need takes precedent.

Until next time, remember my motto:

“If you cannot raise, don’t call.”

Donna Blevins
Poker MindSet Coach &
Dean of Poker MindSet Academy

Be sure to pick up my Free Audio Poker Training along with transcript of the 3 Strategies That Can Dramatically Improve Your Game.

NOTE: If you’ve already signed up to receive one of my free poker trainings or are already a coaching client, be sure to use the same email. That will avoid you getting duplicate emails.

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6 Responses to Poker Mindset Moment: MindSet May NOT Be Most Important at the Poker Table

  1. JoNo Gravatar June 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    After reading that title, I thought you must have lost your mind. 😉 I’m glad to see that your poker mindset is still important, but that the physical needs may be temporarily more pressing.

    • Donna BlevinsNo Gravatar June 8, 2012 at 7:28 am #

      Thanks Jo! It amazes me at how often seasoned players ignore their physical needs, staying up all night, trying to wait to go to the washroom. Who can possibly make a correct decision when their body is fighting them!

  2. Ed DodgeNo Gravatar June 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Good article with great perspective! Thanks!

  3. VinceNo Gravatar June 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Well, that short story is obviously from the female perspective. If a guy had written it, it wouldn’t have as many words and would have went something like this:

    Please God, I hope my girlfriend’s not pregnant!

    LOL – Thanks for the continued words of wisdom!

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