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How Professional Poker Players Prepare for a Tournament

The ability to take a hobby to a professional level requires many different attributes, but perhaps none more so than dedication.

For many poker fans, the idea of playing poker for a living is a dream. Anyone given the opportunity to turn their hobby into a bonafide career would leap at the chance. Whilst any professional poker player will tell you that they adore their job, there are differences between playing professionally and playing for fun.

The biggest difference is the sheer dedication and discipline that goes into preparing for a big tournament. Here’s how the pros do it.

A Poker Face is Important

Of course, some people play the majority of their poker tournaments online, but players who regularly partake in face to face tournaments can all agree on one thing; your poker face really does matter. Professionals have plenty of unusual ways to practice theirs, but one thing seems to unite everyone. Regular practice is key.

Whether you practice in front of the mirror in the morning, practice when talking to colleagues at work, or even on dates, it’s essential to get your face used to remaining totally unreadable.

If you’re thinking about playing more real-life tournaments, then it might sound silly, but working out what yours is can be very important. Not everyone can retain a totally relaxed face, so it might be that you choose a slight smile, or to furrow your brow a little.

Whilst you don’t want to choose a face that requires much thought, it can be helpful to have a little something to focus on which allows you to engage your facial muscles, rather than leave them to their own devices.

Embrace the Tools Out There

Casual players can take great pleasure in the game and don’t have to be too aware of their performance statistics. Many of us know that we perform best in a quiet room, or at a certain time of day. However, few of us are privy to the kind of information that tools like PokerTracker 4 and Holdem Manager 2 can give us.

Interestingly both of these favored platforms are now owned by the same company but operate at different price points and with interfaces that will suit different players.

Using this kind of technology isn’t free, PokerTracker 4 is $99.99 and Holdem Manager 2 starts at $59.99 for small stakes players. However, when you consider the kind of in-depth analysis that you receive on your gameplay, they’re the sort of tools that, when used correctly, could easily pay for themselves.

Of course, there are other game trackers available and it’s up to each player to find the tool that suits them. If you’re considering making the move to professional, then you’d be a fool not to at least consider investing.

Look After Your Main Asset

Although not everyone has the time to sit on a mountaintop and meditate, embracing simple mindfulness techniques could help in the final stages of a poker tournament.

A reality of professional poker playing that is often overlooked is how much work goes into fine-tuning your brain. Of course, poker is a game that requires logic, quick thinking, and the ability to act well under pressure. It is therefore imperative that a professional player keeps their brain well looked after.

Regular practice is the obvious solution to that, and all pros will have a rigorous practice program. However, we often forget about looking after our brains during downtime.

Practicing mindfulness techniques is quickly becoming popular with poker professionals. Whether it’s full-blown meditation, or simply stopping to focus on breathing, or listening, allowing your brain time to relax is essential. Just as we can hurt ourselves if we overwork our legs, our brain too needs time to recover. Professionals often take a little time to re-calibrate after an intense tournament, just as any athlete would.

The other benefit is that by practicing mindfulness you will begin to understand how your brain responds to different stimuli. Focusing on your breath for just five minutes, whilst ignoring all distractions, could be the technique that helps you to remain calm in a challenging final hand.

Of course, you won’t always have the luxury of five minute clock in the middle of a live poker tournament, or that long of a timebank online! Though being able to relax your breathing and focus on the task at hand will prove an invaluable asset.

How Much Cash Back Will I Earn?

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Many players earn a living wage from rakeback alone. Use the calculator below to estimate the size of payments you’ll get over a given period of time. The calculator will compute your expected daily, weekly, and monthly cash back depending on the stakes and tables you input.

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