Poker Mental Game & Planning

Procrastination and Poker

4,611 Views 2 Comments on 29/1/16

You'll quickly learn that procrastination and poker don't mix - learn how to set goals and stick with them as we cover this efficiency and progression killer.

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Procrastination is a tendency to avoid high-priority tasks by substituting them with low-priority ones. It's the "never do today what you can put off until tomorrow" approach. While there's no consensus in the world of psychology when it comes to the origin of the phenomenon discussed in this article, researchers agree that procrastination is a real problem that affects more than 20% of our society. Even if we opt to disregard scientific definitions entirely the fact that facebook, youtube or Netflix often get in the way of the things we should be doing still remains and it's a good idea to learn how we can prevent this from happening.

Procrastination and Poker

Poker players are especially vulnerable when it comes to procrastination. There are many reasons why that's true. First of all, you can't play online poker without internet access and with twitter, facebook, youtube etc screaming for your attention, it's easy to succumb to the techno-temptation. Furthermore, if you're your own boss there's no one that can supervise you. Normal workplace rules do not apply to us and there's no clear punishment for not doing your work (missing out on +EV spots is more complicated to quantify than the loss of a monthly paycheck).

Lastly, online poker is available 24/7 which gives us practically unlimited capacity to postpone our poker sessions in favor of something else.

Goals and Plans

As we discussed in the previous article it's very important to pick well-defined, easy to quantify goals and follow them up with a precise plan. "Daily poker session between 7 pm and 10 pm" doesn't exactly leave much room for second thoughts, but virtually the same goal worded differently: "I'll spend 100h this month playing poker" can become one big excuse to procrastinate.

Same goes for "weekly 3bet spots analysis Monday 5 pm - 6 pm" vs. "I'll work on my game in 3bet pots this month" etc. A good, well-thought-out plan made in advance is much harder to question in the moment of weakness than the bad, poorly-worded one and you can decrease the probability that you'll procrastinate simply by improving the way you're setting goals and planning how to achieve them.

Take the First Step

Woody Allen once said that "80% of life is showing up". To overcome procrastination you simply need to sit down and begin your task. This is easier said than done especially when your workflow is really elaborate (you're playing many tables, using a bunch of different poker programs etc.) or you need to do something that you don't enjoy (working on your poker math for example). Complicated or unenjoyable tasks might seem overwhelming, but fortunately, you can modify them and make them much easier to approach.

If you're dreading the thought of making a complicated database analysis, warm up your brain by reviewing some hands on the forum. If you don't enjoy the table selection process at the beginning of your session fire up some zoom/speed/rush poker tables for 5 minutes to get you right into the action. 
Do the thing and you shall have the power. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eliminate Distractions

This is the most important step you can take to win the war against procrastination. It's also fairly difficult to pull off in the age of information with all of the world's knowledge and entertainment at your fingertips. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make your work space as distraction-free as possible:

  • Consider buying a separate PC for poker - While this solution certainly isn't for everyone it's also very effective. Buying a machine with a graphics card, that's not capable of running modern video games automatically eliminates one source of distraction. Keeping your poker PC clean of non-poker related applications will make it more difficult to procrastinate and make your sessions more productive. 

  • Use browser extensions to block distracting websites - If you don't have enough money or space in your home to consider buying a separate PC for poke,r you can go with a slightly less effective but very similar solution. You can block all of the websites that you tend to spend time on instead of working by using certain browser extensions like StayFocusd, Website Blocker etc. Those apps give you many different options. You can block websites completely or make them unavailable only between certain hours of the day which still lets you enjoy youtube, facebook etc. but prevents you from visiting those sites during your working hours. 

  • Turn off/silence your phone -This is pretty self-explanatory. Today everyone has another PC in his/her pocket that's, even more effective at providing distractions than our desktop computers!

  • Keep your desk (and desktop) clean - A neat work space allows you to focus on the task at hand and decreases the probability of quitting mid-way through. Make sure that your desk is clean and remove all of the unnecessary items from it. Close every non-poker application before you start your session. You can also right-click on your desktop and hide all of the icons using a view menu so you're not tempted to click one of them during the session.

  • Use headphones  - Background noise can be another source of distractions and headphones are the remedy. They can also work as a subtle "do not disturb" sign if you're not living alone.

Have Some Fun!

As always when it comes to poker it's really important to remember about the balance. Dealing with procrastination isn't about eliminating the fun in our lives but rather about separating our work time from play time. If you take care of your dopamine release in a more structured way by setting aside some time for social media, video games, tv, books and other sources of entertainment, it's less likely that you'll crave it during your working hours. Regular gaming sessions with your friends, or watching a tv show during specific hours of the day can actually reinforce the habit of keeping a schedule which will, in turn, benefit your work and increase productivity.

To recap...

  • Make sure you have a good, well-defined plan.
  • Break down your tasks, and make them more enjoyable by starting with the part that you like the most.
  • Keep your work place clean and free of distractions.
  • Separate your work time from play time. 

I hope that after reading this article, you'll be able to overcome procrastination and increase your productivity without giving up on the fun.

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Matt VIP

Matt is predominantly a mental game and planning expert, with a terrific knowledge of science, meditation, practical methods of improvement and of course, a good level of poker skill! Look out for his strategy articles and follow him for his nobel-prize winning forum po ... Read More


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Manheuseron 10/2/16

I got a few sentences in. I'll read the rest later :P


colly191091on 2/2/16

Great article! Cheers Matt :)

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