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The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Here's one of the most interesting things about poker: A player can be incredibly knowledgeable and talented, and still be a long-term loser. I've been playing professionally for more than a decade and, in that time, I've seen any number of sharp, gifted players go broke again and again. How is it that I've been able to survive while others have busted out? I think there are a few factors that contribute to my success.

As I discussed in a previous tip, my money management skills are good. So when I hit the inevitable losing streak, I don't risk going broke. As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to overstate the importance of money management to your poker career.

I've also benefited from being a mixed-game player. At the Commerce Casino, I play in a rotation game that can include Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud Hi/Lo, Triple Draw, and Badugi. I like the mixed games for a couple of reasons. First off, playing a mix of games helps keep me sharp and interested. Sometimes, when I play one game continually for hours on end, I can get a little antsy.

In addition, there are usually a couple of players who play some games well, but aren't quite as skilled in others. This gives me a nice edge. And the truth is, even at higher limits, there are players who don't understand some of the games all that well. They see too many flops in Omaha Hi/Lo and draw too frequently in Triple Draw and Badugi.

There's another great advantage to this sort of mixed game. Games like Omaha Hi/Lo and Badgui appeal to gamblers - players who like to get involved in pots and mix it up. Some of these guys are quite talented, but after missing a draw in Badgui or failing to connect on the river in Omaha, they can go on tilt. Then, for a period of time - maybe 15 minutes, maybe an hour - they play every game badly.

Perhaps the greatest advantage I have over my opponents is that I'm able to control my emotions. I don't tilt easily. And when I do feel myself getting upset, I have the discipline to get up from the table and go home. I know that the game will be there tomorrow and I'll be far more prepared for the action after some rest. Over the years, I've encountered many players who play about as well as I do, but I've fared much better then they have because I can control my response to adversity.

If you're looking to improve your results, try learning some new games. There's a lot of fun and profit outside of Hold 'em. And work on your emotional control. Staying off tilt may be the most important thing you can do for your bankroll.

Kristy Gazes
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