Poker Mindset Hacks: The Three-Minute Cool Down

Dogs-Playing-Poker-in-the-Snow--91897Do you use the time immediately after a poker session to your advantage, or do you just stop playing?

Do you have a hard time getting poker out of your mind after you play and resetting your mind so that you can relax?

In my last blog post we discussed a basic three-minute warm up routine you can implement before you start to play poker. Today we do the same for a cool down routine after you have played.

A good cool down will do two things well. First of all it will help you to conceptualize the things you have been learning so that they are more likely to be mastered for the next time you play. Secondly, a good cool down will help you put poker to bed for the day and allow you to relax.

Developing a solid cool down is like a head start on the next session you play,  so don’t let those valuable minutes at the end of a session go to waste.

As with the warm-up, if cooling down is new to you, consider starting with this three-minute version. Then as you get used to doing it more, incorporate additional strategies to make it even more effective:

Basic three-minute cool down

1. Estimate variance.

Since you can’t rely entirely on results in the short term, you need a more objective way of identifying how you played. That starts by estimating the effect variance had on your results.

2. Evaluate how you played.

Get a sense of how you did in the areas of your game, technical or mental, that you are trying to improve. Were you able to stop yourself from tilting or spot the signs of tilt sooner? If not, what happened? Did you rectify previous technical mistakes? If not, what happened?


And once again, that’s it! These two simple steps will ask the right sort of probing questions you need to ensure that learning happens and that you will put your mind at rest in equal measure. By asking yourself to estimate the role of both your skill and variance on the days events you will eventually develop a much more objective assessment of your own ability, which will not only help you handle things like downswings but also to develop stable confidence.

Additional cool down strategies

imagesThe three-minute cool down is designed to help make a cool down an easy to repeat habit which shows some immediate benefits to your poker mindset.

Once you have the three-minute cool down mastered, try adding the following steps, one at a time, in the order which makes the most sense to you:

• Marking hands during the session makes it easier to review your play afterwards. Unsure what hands to mark during your sessions? Choose non-standard hands where your decision was tough, where you thought you may have made a mistake, where tilt started to show up, where you made a creative move, or other spots that can help you learn and determine how you played. Then after the session, review those hands. That doesn’t mean you need to get into a hardcore analysis, but at least take some game flow notes so you can analyze those hands in context when working on them later.

• Take notes about any new details of your mental game problems you encountered

• Take a note of anything new that you did well. This can indicate ways to improve your game even more in the future.

• Look closely at how the regulars played and make notes for the future.

• Productively vent by writing about whatever is weighing on your mind.

• Refine your next warm-up based on what you found in this session.

What does your cool down routine look like? I’d love for you to tell me in the comments box below:

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Poker Mindset Hacks: The Three-Minute Warm Up

Do you have a routine to prepare yourself mentally to play your best poker, or do you just show up...