Samantha Abernathy has been a poker player for seven years and has become a notable name in the game as her career has progressed. A No Limit Texas Hold’em cash game and tournament specialist, the 888poker ambassador has recorded $597,164 in live tournament earnings according to The Hendon Mob.
With her experience, Abernathy has recognised how important it is to the master the mental side of poker for success to be translated onto the felt. She notes that all poker players need to possess these five critical skills for players to perform at their highest potential.
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Reaching your potential starts with commitment and that is the single most important factor that differentiates champions from the rest of the field. You must be committed in order to work hard, practice with quality and improve your skills.
Commitment entails action, it means setting goals and achieving them with determination and effort. A committed poker player plays with passion and is intensively competitive; while putting their heart into the game on and off the table.
Mental toughness requires composure. While no one can see our thoughts, they can see our body language and you can guarantee other players are taking note when you are visibly frustrated after a hand has gone wrong.
It can be painful when we don’t play well. Ways to regain composure include:
You have to bring consistency to you game day in and day out. The key to consistency begins with proper mental preparation before each session, allowing to be more focused and confident when you are playing. It is this focused and confidence mindset that determines the quality of your session. And the more quality sessions you put in, the more consistent of a player you begin to be.
Make sure you are in control of yourself, planning ahead and trusting the study you have done before your next session.
Concentration is a critical skill that all players should actively cultivate. Winning players are focused on one thing, and that’s poker. You do not need to be listening to music on your headphones for watching something on your phone or tablet.
You also do not need to be involved with conversations with other players unless doing so helps you are finding out information about that specific person.
Confidence is essential for becoming a winning poker player. It’s also easy to become too confident when things are going well at the table, but no matter how good your results have been in the past, it is difficult to stay confident when in the midst of a downswing.
This is tricky as this is when you need confidence the most. So remember to concentrate on the process rather than on your results. Think of the work you have put in to improve your game and how your results are over the long term.
Developing these skills will go a long to improving your poker game and your life.
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Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.