Resolutions for 2018: Habits die hard

January 01, 2018, Mark Brement  

I’m absolutely positive anyone who reads this column is destined to have a winning year, so of course this column will address poker resolutions. They are made to correct bad habits, designed to plug leaks in our game. One can make a case that poker leaks are linked to tilt.

Tilt is defined as anything less than our best. Don’t confuse tilt with anger. Understand that when we’re separated from our money, our brains get fogged up. Also, brains get fogged when we’re happy. Tilt can occur off the table, on the table and in 101 ways, if not a million. So again, let’s get back to accepting the idea that tilt is anything that is less than our best. Make sense? I have a few ideas to help you with your resolutions:

MENTAL PREPARATION: Create a checklist before you play. Clear your mind of any distractions. Treat your brain like it’s your poker-winning machine and do what it takes to get your breathing in order. Cardio is a great way and there are other options.

HAND ANALYSIS: Make sure to write down hands and be prepared to break them down later. Accuracy is important. Know how many players called and pot size and stack sizes and all pertinent information. Accurate hand breakdowns will help identify leaks. Use your phone or take some index cards to ensure accuracy. There is a caveat here. If you jumble the facts, then you will come up with a wrong conclusion. It is painfully obvious to me when a student is sharing a hand and the information is not clear.

It’s also OK to use examples from books and there are many apps that can help us with the math. But again, be careful; there are many ways to misinterpret information. Of note, realize if your recall is not up to par, then some form of tilt is in progress. Should I say it again? Take care of your brain.

EAT RIGHT: As long as I’m carrying around my extra poundage, I’m going to spare you any pontificating on diet. That said, before I play a tournament, I’m careful about my intake and I always plan a workout.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD: Most of the time we resort to old habits. Again, I’ll spare you the psychology as to why humans are inclined to behave this way and perhaps I’m setting up the next column.  

As your coach, I’ll resolve to get you past your unwanted habits; I’ll ferret out your leaks and get you to “tiltnessness.” There are many players out there who will attest to this. Signing off with a shaking hand and wishing you a happy New Year.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.