Poker players typically spend their “training time” learning specific poker skills related to playing hands. Skills such as reading boards, calculating equity and pot odds, and understanding ranges, are all core to becoming a better player. However, players (particularly recreational players) are less likely to attend to other aspects of the game that are equally critical to success. In order to develop a rounded game, you also need to develop these four hidden poker skills.
Hidden Poker Skill I: Honest Self-Assessment of Your Physical State
Heather and I generally play poker on weekends. Given that we largely play tournaments, we often have just a single window of time to play. Sometimes when pulling out of the driveway, one of us will say “God, I’m tired.” The other will offer an insincere, perfunctory “We don’t have to go if you’re exhausted.” However, we know full well that the response will be “Shut up and drive.”
We’ve never tracked whether these low energy days correlate with poor performance. We probably should, but likely won’t for now, because our weekly poker tournament time is sacrosanct. However, if you have the ability to play frequently, and certainly if you play at higher stakes, you should make sure you are rested, alert, and at full capacity before deciding to play. Peak performance is unlikely when you’re tired or sluggish.