How To Overcome Your Fears In Poker

Most of the poker players define tilt as being caused only by anger and fail to notice that fear and anxiety could be the main contributors to their mindset problems. You may not realize that fear can be the cause of not playing your A-Game, not making rational, good decisions or lacking energy to play.

First of all let’s see where can fear show up in your game: Have you noticed that you constantly avoid high-variance plays, even if you know that it’s the right decision? Do you usually delay moving up in stakes? Are you constantly second guessing your decisions? Does your mind go blank in huge pots and do you feel rushed? Are you looking to much at the results or at your stack size?

What can you do if you want to overcome your fear of failure in poker and push beyond it to success? Here are the steps you can take:

1. Figure out where fear comes from 

Ask yourself what are the root causes of your negative beliefs? Write down in your poker journal where you think that fear comes from and try to logically understand it as an outsider. Sometimes just stating what your fears are gives you more strength to deal with them. Say your fears out loud, write them down, or focus your mind on them.

To identify what your fears are here are some questions that might help you:

  1. What am I actually afraid of?
  2. What are the spots or situation that typically cause me to be anxious or fearful?
  3. What are the first signs of fear and anxiety?
  4. Am I scared that I might make a mistake or be wrong?
  5. Do I feel confident in my abilities to perform?

2. Look at the worst-case scenario

Visualize and write down the absolute worst outcome. How bad is this scenario in the grand scheme of life? Most of the time we give situations far more power than they deserve, recognizing this can be very helpful.

I challenge you to dig into your fears, and you’ll often find that the mental monsters are harmless scarecrows. Sometimes, it just takes a piece of paper and a few questions to create a breakthrough.

3. Visualize success

After you wrote down and visualized the worst-case scenario, go ahead and visualize how would it make you feel if you succeed? Write down what are the benefits of overcoming your fears. Ask yourself the question, is it worth facing your fears? Remember: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” (Jim Rohn)

Olympic athletes visualize themselves winning a race or a game. It might not actually get them to win the gold, but it certainly helps their performance. Why not do the same with poker? Visualizing how it might feel to win a tournament or to become a winner in a higher stake cash game can be very motivating, and it can hep you play better and make your dream a reality.

4. Focus on learning

Things may not go the way you planned or the way you want them to go, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Sometimes a less than ideal situation is the best opportunity to make changes and grow.

Instead of dwelling on your mistakes and losses, ask yourself some questions:

  1. What can I learn?
  2. How can I learn from this experience?
  3. What can I do better next time?
  4. What is the positive side of the situation?

Remember: “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” (John Maxwell)

5. Learn to think more positively

The things you say to yourself matter enormously, you believe what you tell yourself. Negative self-talk and thinking limits you, increases stress, and hurts your confidence. Nurture a kind and positive inner voice.

We are obsessed with success, but it’s important to understand that successful people are not those who do not fail, they are those who fail more, accept failure, learn from it, recover and than try again, never giving up.

One great poker book I would recommend if you want to overcome your poker fears and improve your mindset is: The Mental Game of Poker: Proven Strategies for Improving Tilt Control, Confidence, Motivation, Coping with Variance, and More by Barry Carter and Jared Tendler.

My favorite self development book on overcoming your fears is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. “The book mentions fundamental facts to know about worry and magic formula for solving worry-some situations. It suggests basic techniques in analyzing worry, step by step, in order to cope up with them. A very interesting feature of the book is ‘How to eliminate 50% of your business worries’. The book offers 7 ways to cultivate a mental attitude that will bring you peace and happiness. Also, the golden rule for conquering worry, keeping your energy & spirits high. It consists of some True Stories which will help the readers in conquering worry to lead you to success in life. The book is full of similar incidences and narrations which will make our readers to understand the situation in an easy way and lead a happy life. A must read book for everyone.” (Description from Goodreads.com)

Note: Do you want to overcome your fears at poker and play your A-Game more often? Check out Elliot Roe’s course: A-Game Poker Masterclass. Learn more now!