Being Fully In The Moment – By: John Anhalt

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people talk about not letting the past effect your future decisions, but realistically, this is going to happen quite a bit. You take a bad beat, get frustrated, and then get involved in the very next pot, when you should have been “insta-mucking” your hand to begin with.

Some of us are much better about controlling our emotions and ego at the table, but most of us, no matter how good we are at this, could make dramatic improvements in learning how to re-center ourselves, and be FULLY in the moment. The reality is, the days events, the current bad beat you took, the horrible fight you had with your partner, the cat you ran over on the way to the casino, are all going to effect every decision you make at the table. And, as all of you should fully understand, playing the most profitable poker you can play, has to do with making the BEST decision possible as consistently as possible over a long period of time.

So, consequently, your current state of mind when you sit down at the table, is a crucial factor in determining how successful you can really be at poker. This is poker at an even higher level, this is the game you’ll be playing against yourself your entire life. It should make a lot of sense then, that not only do you have to learn how to play against an array of different personality types on the felt, but you have to learn how to play against your ego, while balancing your emotional state.

There are really two important concepts to getting yourself in an ideal state where you can be fully present in the moment:

  1. Determining your current state of mind, and how recent past events may be effecting you, and
  2. Letting go of all of those past events, and focusing in with laser like precision at only the current decision at hand.

I recommend that you create a personal “ritual” for yourself before you decide to play a game of poker. You don’t have to light candles, burn incense, and chant to the holy mother cow. It’s just a matter of creating a repetitious set of actions that will prepare your mind to let go of the past, and focus on the current task at hand. It can be as simple as saying one sentence to yourself, such as, “I’m ready to play poker, so I’m going to let everything else go, center myself, and focus my mind to play the best poker I can play”. Something that simple, can make a HUGE difference in every session you play. Don’t believe me, good! I didn’t want you to believe me, I wanted you to try it!

If you’ve noticed one thing about professional sports, you should be able to notice who the truly great players are in any individual sport. They are deemed great, not only because they perform extremely well, but also because they can do this very consistently. A lot of professional athletes talk about “being in the bubble”, where there’s no crowd, no winning, no losing, but instead just the pure action they are doing. Meaning there is no weight put into whether they score a goal, make
that basket, or catch that improbable throw for a touchdown. It’s “merely” the action, and only the action.

This is the second part of being in the moment. If you’re involved in a pot in poker, and you begin to think about winning the hand, losing the hand, losing the money that’s already in the pot, then you’ve already begun to lose the hand. Don’t worry about what you invested into the pot in the PAST, don’t concern yourself with victory, focus in and analyze all of the available information, and make the best decision possible. The more consistently you can do this, the more your poker bankroll is going to grow. I guarantee it.