The one thing that truly separates a good athlete from a great athlete is consistency.
Consistency is Key
The one thing that truly separates a good athlete from a great athlete is consistency. Anyone can have a hot game, but the legends are out there putting up big numbers night after night. They may not always win, but they put their maximum effort into every performance. You see where I'm going with this. Poker. There is no easy path to the top anymore and it gets more and more difficult every year, as people get more educated about the game by articles such as this. It takes much more time to move up levels than it did 10 years ago. To be honest, if I had started playing poker in the last few years, I'm not sure I would have had the fortitude to stay in the game. If you started playing poker in the last few years and are still grinding away the low-mid stakes, while building a bankroll and studying to get better good for you! It is not easy to stick with this game, and learning to master it can often be very expensive. But once you do, it can be very profitable.
However, just like with athletes, you can memorize every play in the book, but when it comes to the high-pressure situations, only the superstars will perform at the highest levels. With poker it is even harder, due to the effect that gambling has on the human brain. The number one thing that stands in the way of people's consistency is trying to get back money they lost. In the long run, a skillful player will cash 15-20% of his tournaments. That percentage will stay the same (or even go down) if he moves up to a higher buy-in level. So, as he keeps buying in for more and more with the odds hugely stacked against him that he will cash, his bankroll gets exponentially smaller until it is gone. This is extremely common. Most good players can't keep from going broke this way. The few good players who can, are losing 80-85% of the time but make up for it by putting up some big numbers along the way. These are the ones who become elite.
Studying the Game
Studying your game is another huge part of it. It is hard to admit your faults. Sometimes, I get nervous, even to review my session by myself, because I am embarrassed by a mistake I made. It happens. Suck it up. And don't just review your hands by yourself. Have a friend review with you. Let him tell you what a huge mistake you made. It's fine. When you are complaining about getting sucked out on, it is good to have someone to tell you that there were other ways to play the hand. That is how you improve. If you want to be on top, you might as well start preparing yourself now for the criticism. I am certainly not on top, but I am in the public view and people criticize my game all the time. It makes me super self-conscious. But many times, they are right. And once I get over myself, I learn something. Why not listen to every available piece of information I can? Group review sessions are how almost all the big-name players got to where they are.
Mistakes Will Happen
People mistake online poker for an easy way to make a buck, because we are sitting down and at home. Being a winning player is very, very hard and the higher you go, it gets that much harder. That, compiled with the fact that even a winning player may lose for months at a time, shows why so few players are able to make a living at this game. The ones that do are the ones who can bring their A-game no matter what the circumstances. Don't play when you are tilted. Don't play when you are angry. Don't play when you are drunk. What? I know, right? Forget about your results. Play your hands correctly. The ones you don't play correctly, adjust for next time. Most people know the correct way to act disciplined, but still don't do it. Do whatever it takes. Burn your hand on the stove every time you don't stick to correct bankroll management. (Betcoin does not condone hand burning or any other form of self-harm.) Do what you need to do to get the job done. Think to yourself, am I going to regret this tomorrow? Take 5 minutes to separate yourself from the situation and truly decide what is best for you in the long term. If you put in the work, you will see the results. Good luck!
250 Thank You Tickets
I am giving away three 250 Guaranteed Freeroll tickets to people who comment below. What could you do to become more consistent? Entries must be received by Wednesday at 9AM EST to qualify. Winning entries will also be entered in the last longer for the following Sunday's Tipsy Chips.