Daniel Negreanu on why poker success is all in the mind

In one of his recent ‘quicky’ videos, Daniel Negreanu, the PokerStars ambassador and one of the most recognizable faces in the game, briefly touches on the mental aspect of poker.

While Negreanu doesn’t delve deep on the topic, those few points he does mention should be enough to get you thinking about your approach to the game.

Setting your goals

Much like with everything else in the life, to be successful in poker, it is important to understand what you want from the game. This is an answer you want to give to yourself, not to anyone else because defining your personal goals will make them much easier to achieve.

Simply wanting to win isn’t going to cut it, regardless of what anyone might tell you. Negreanu explains that, if it is your goal to be really good at poker, you need to come up with a plan on how you want to achieve this.

Coming up with a plan

Figuring out the goal is actually the easier part. Obviously, most of the people who play would like to be good at the game. However, reaching that goal isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there. The best way to start this journey is by coming up with a structured and concise plan on how you’ll actually improve.

There are different ways to go about, depending on what kind of a person you are. However, studying the game, learning new things, and committing yourself fully to the goal are essential. Whether you’ll do it by watching coaching videos, analyzing your own hands, or doing something else (or combining different aspects) is less important.

You need to find the approach that fits the best with your personality and then stick to it.

Mental aspect is an addition, not a solution

One important thing Negreanu emphasizes is that improving your mental game and your overall approach to the game is just another aspect of becoming a better player. It can’t actually substitute for the lack of fundamental knowledge or bad bankroll management. Having a better, more organized view of the game is helpful, but it can’t be of much help if you lack the basic understanding of game math, for example.

Finally, there isn’t a magic pill that will simply turn your game around overnight. You can’t just sit down in a game one day and decide never to tilt again. Tilting is bad, and you want to get rid of it, but simply saying you won’t tilt anymore isn’t going to cut it – just like saying I’m going to win from now on won’t make you a winner.

Developing a good mental state for poker is a process that takes time and effort. In the long run, it will pay dividends, as you’ll start to see games in a different light, you’ll have much better control over your plays, and your understanding of your goals and your opponents will grow. If you are committed to evolving as a player, this is definitely something you should work on, but don’t expect things will just change for the better because you want that to happen so badly.

And you can take Mr Negreanu’s word for it.

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