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If you mention to someone that you play poker unless they are familiar with the card game it can often be portrayed as a negative activity which involves gambling huge amounts of money and dishonest behaviour. I used to think this until I started playing and then I realised that poker demands many skills and strategies which I have learnt and developed.

To be successful, you must be able to master the theory and then apply it at the most appropriate time. The skills include hand selection, bluffing, choosing the right games, and reading hands. These skills do not come easily since they require unnatural actions. You cannot win just by ‘doing what comes naturally.’

Poker players will have an excellent game one day and then poorly the next. They will often state that their performance has peaks and troughs where one minute they are on form but the next game they are at the bottom. It is common knowledge that there is massive variance in a poker game and it is a game of the long haul.

Have you ever wondered why some tactics seem to come naturally to you while others don’t? A great poker player needs to be able to deal with the ups and downs of a game which is often described as ‘mental toughness.’ In other words, being able to play your best in any situation. Mental toughness is just as important in your personal life as well as at the poker table. Some people are just better at dealing with problems, obstacles and failure better than others and as such makes them a better poker player. Having mental toughness allows you to play more consistently, regardless of challenges that might arise at the table or elsewhere.

I must emphasise that I am not encouraging everyone to start playing poker to see if they have good mental toughness. But for a game to be able to determine your own personal strength which you can build upon and work with must be very powerful. Poker should not be underestimated and if used correctly and in moderation could be a very successful method of managing your emotions.

By Kate Ball

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