How to Practice Mental Resilience When Playing Poker

Text: “Resilience” written on wooden blocks.

Most people who play online poker do it for fun in their free time and don’t take it too seriously. But if you’re working hard on improving your game or you’re aiming to turn your favorite pastime into your profession, you’ll quickly come to realize just how true it is that poker demands nerves of steel.

The reality is that both online poker tournaments and in-person games can take their toll on your mental state and make it challenging to put on your best “poker face.” Looking for tips to keep calm and play on with confidence? Here are our best poker tournament tips for boosting mental resilience.

Listen to your gut

Yes, poker games online require plenty of skill and attention to detail, but it’s also true that luck has a significant role to play in the majority of outcomes at the table. As such, if your gut is telling you to fold, raise or call, it’s almost always worthwhile to take that feeling into account when weighing up your odds. Trust yourself and you’ll immediately notice a difference in your mental resilience.

Start looking at your losses in a new light

It’s only human to feel a bit defeated after a loss, especially if you parted with a large sum of money. Acknowledge these emotions, but don’t let any negative self-talk creep in and break down your self-esteem. Instead, try to see your losses as learning opportunities and use them as motivation to play with more gusto next time around.

Train your brain

Aside from excellent people-reading skills and a solid “poker face,” the single most important thing if you want to take your poker game from mediocre to incredible is to improve your concentration and focus. It’s possible to do this solely by playing poker online, but many players have greater success when they work on training their brain in other ways, too. 

For example, you could take up some new hobbies in the form of crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. You could also work on getting more sleep, filling your diet with healthy “brain food” and giving meditation a try.

Study harder

You’ll naturally feel more confident when you’re prepared and know exactly what you’re doing, so if you’re struggling to hold on to your mental resilience during play, it’s a good idea to start hitting the books (or the internet, of course!) 

Did you know that most professional poker players spend at least 20% of their “working hours” brushing up on their skills and only 80% actually playing? Ultimately, you can never stop learning when it comes to the game of poker.

A man sitting at a casino table looking at poker cards.

Look after your mental and physical health

If you’re dealing with problems in your personal life, trying to cope with a stressful job or simply neglecting your physical health, all of this is going to come through in your game. You can’t show mental resilience at the table if you’re not looking after yourself away from the felt. Make sure you’ve set some time aside to eat well, exercise, bond with loved ones and for some much-needed “me-time.”

Go into each game with a positive mindset

A positive mindset is a fantastic starting point for a great poker game! Unfortunately, walking into every game or tournament in this mental state isn’t always easy, especially if you’re recovering from a recent loss. Some things that can help include surrounding yourself with people who uplift you, practicing positive self-talk and giving the “superhero stance” a go to boost your self-esteem. This is when you stand tall, legs apart, hands on your hips and head held high, just like a superhero would after saving the world. Many experts believe it “tricks” the brain into increasing your levels of testosterone (which is said to improve confidence and help you trust your instincts) and decreasing cortisol levels (the “stress hormone.”)

Create a strong support network

As mentioned, people who uplift you can be instrumental in optimizing your mental toughness both before, during and after a poker game, so be sure to build a strong support network of relatives, friends and other poker enthusiasts.

Take a break from time to time

While practice makes perfect, there are also many benefits to taking a poker break. You’ll enjoy a breather where you’ll be able to gain some perspective and shed any “decision fatigue” that may have built up over time. You’ll also have the opportunity to review and look for any “leaks” or weak points in your strategy, restore balance in your life and remember why you fell in love with online poker in the first place.

Online poker tournaments at Borgata Online

Are you looking to put your online poker tournament strategy and improved mental resilience to good use? Choose Borgata Online for live poker online, as well as a broad menu of video poker games. If you’d like to take a break from poker, we have a selection of other popular casino table games to choose from, such as blackjack, roulette and a variety of online slots for when you’re feeling especially lucky.

Feel free to register via our convenient mobile portal when you’re ready to get started.