In the last few weeks, I have been doing a lot of mental work around confidence.  Being confident while playing Poker games, specifically, as I believe the more confidence you have the less you second-guess yourself.  The work I’ve done is showing better results in my game but it also got me thinking about the thin line that separates confidence from ego.

In poker games, as in life, when ego enters into the equation, it becomes detrimental to your game. It makes you overplay your poker hands, makes you think of taking revenge on someone who has exploited you in a few spots or turns you into a notorious bully who inevitably will get slapped down by a stronger or more skilled adversary.

It might not even be intentional for confidence to spill into becoming egotism but the results are the same. Ego leads you to make unprofitable plays because in those moments you are allowing emotion to lead the way.

A few tips on how to avoid ego creep into your next poker game:

Be Humble

You may believe yourself to be the next Fedor Holz but don’t go bragging about your Poker skills to all and sundry. Let your game always speak for you.  If you have Coaches and Mentors who are helping you improve your skills, always remember that it is their skills that helped you win poker games thereafter.  Acknowledge that publicly and to yourself; it will keep you grounded. Being humble does not mean that you are less of a person for all that you have accomplished; it means that you are quietly confident and respectful of others’ accomplishments, too.

Take Stock

Be realistic about your skills and your poker bankroll. It is easy to slip into thinking that with one big score, you are now one of the best players on the circuit. Do not jump into playing every major poker tournament that comes your way unless your bankroll can underwrite it. Continue to keep a balance between smaller buy-in tournaments/cash games that you can now crush for bread and butter and use the profit to play bigger buy-ins for more experience and, hopefully, more wins.

Harness Emotion

When you let ego take over, you lose control over your emotions.  This is the very last thing you need to have in your arsenal when you are a Poker player.  You need to remove all emotion from your game to play optimally.  If you allow another player to press your ego buttons in poker games, you lose sight of the rest of the players on your table and will only focus on taking that one player down.  How is it possible to crush the table when you are only looking to crush one player? The other players on the table will be observing your actions and will take every opportunity to trip you up.

Emulate the Pros

Anthony Robbins, the famous self-help guru, has made his living by emulating the most successful people on the planet and teaching others how to do the same.  In India, our best Poker players are all amazing and if we regular Joes can try to emulate them, it will help us grow as both Poker players and people.  In the last two and a half years of being on the Poker circuit, I have been impressed by their humility, their calm demeanor, their willingness to help weaker players, and most importantly their dedication to continuously improve their skills in poker games. 

We are extremely fortunate that we are still a relatively small Poker community and can reach out directly and personally to our country’s foremost Poker players and to learn from them.

Make it your daily endeavor to check your ego at the door when you get into a Poker game. I can assure you that you will experience less tilt, make more creative plays and will have the wherewithal to become a more profitable player.

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