Poker Mindset Hacks: The Three-Minute Warm Up

imagesDo you have a routine to prepare yourself mentally to play your best poker, or do you just show up and play?

In every major sport, professionals and serious players have some form of a structured warm-up before they play. This includes things like training drills, team talks, jogging, stretches and going over strategy.

For most poker players, warming up really is just a case of turning the computer on.

In general, poker players aren’t convinced yet of why this is so important to them. This is not entirely their fault, as there never has been much emphasis on warming up in conventional poker literature. People don’t think of poker in these sporting terms, but if you want to get an edge on those lazy players who don’t take their game seriously, a warm up is a good place to start.

Warming up helps you identify what to improve, and helps you keep a close eye on your progress. Warming up what you’re currently in the process of learning makes these skills more likely to show up while you’re playing.

If you are playing long sessions I’d suggest warming up for 10 to 15 minutes, but if the concept of warming up before you play is new, that is not going to be realistic or sustainable. To get you started and to see some immediate benefits, try the following three-minute warm up:

Basic three-minute warm up

1. Remove any non-poker related distractions.

This includes your phone, chat, TV, other people, and random internet browsers.

2. Review what you are working on.

Remind yourself of a few things in your game that you’re trying to improve. Do this by briefly reviewing some specific technical improvements in your poker skill, such as value betting more, tightening up your opening range, or 3-betting more from the small blind. Also review the strategy you’re using to improve mental game problems.

3. Take a few deep breaths to focus and go play.

….

And that’s it! The very fact that you are consciously doing a warm up is going to put you in a better more focused poker mindset. By following step 2, you will also have the things you want to improve on fresh in your mind to enable you to execute them better. If you are trying to value bet more, the fact you have gone over this before you play makes it much more likely it will show up in the moment at the tables.

Additional warm up strategies

BusinessmanAs mentioned earlier, ideally a warm up would last around 15 minutes. Instead of trying to do everything all at once, build up to it, by gradually adding the following steps to your routine (add the ones which make the most sense to you right now first):

• Decide how long you’re going to play. Having a set time makes poker more structured and for many players that makes their mental game stronger. Obviously you can adjust if the games are not as good, or better, than you were expecting.

• Review your long-term goals.

• Take notes on anything that’s weighing on your mind from your personal life. That way you can focus entirely on playing and easily pick these things back up afterward.

• Review hand histories that fit with what you are currently improving.

• Many players watch poker training videos before they play. That’s best only if you already watched the video and it fits with the parts of your game you’re trying to improve. In this way, the video refreshes your memory, rather than teaching you something entirely new. Before you start playing is not the time to learn, it’s the time to reinforce what you are learning so you’re more likely to execute it while playing.

• Exercise or go for a walk.

• Try meditating, visualizing, or breathing exercises.

• Play 30% to 50% of your usual number of tables for 30 minutes. Consider this to be an extended warm-up that’s designed to create a bridge between warming up and playing. Playing a fraction of the tables allows you to think more about the concepts you’re trying to improve, steadily get into the flow of the action, and get in the best frame of mind before really grinding.

How do you warm up before you play? I’d love for you to tell me in the comments box below:

Comments

  1. Thank you for another great article. My warming up usually consists of going through hands from previous sessions, but I’ve found out that I focus too much on mistakes I made, which sometimes can be harmful for my self-confidence.

    Question: what do you think of hypnosis audio for playing poker? I’ve been considering using it as a warm up.

    Thanks!

  2. Great read! Love your work Jered. TMGP I and II are both “must have” for every poker player

  3. Matthew

    Never ever thought to warm up and cool down before and after poker. I do always find it hard to wind down after poker!

    I will give this method a go tonight! Makes a lot of sense :)

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  1. […] 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 […]

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