Discipline is one of the key ingredients of poker success. In fact, discipline or more accurately, self-discipline is the cornerstone of success in almost any life's pursuits.
Have you ever heard of a successful, but undisciplined individual in any of these fields:
- stock market investing,
- professional gambling, or
- professional athletics?
The answer, of course, is no. And furthermore, you never will. Almost any form of personal accomplishment requires self-discipline, especially professional accomplishment. The higher you aspire, the higher the level of required discipline.
I often refer to discipline as a value. Indeed, it seems that many are blessed with perfect discipline at birth. And there are some, who through their lives never seem to have a clue or care. While, the rest of us literally struggle daily to hold everything together. But, despite or because of the struggle, even we strugglers will eventually succeed.
So, what is poker discipline? First, a general description. Poker discipline, both at the table and away from the table, is about:
- practice, and
- doing the things that are not fun, and that you would rather not be doing.
Poker discipline is about doing all the things all of the time that you know you should be doing to play your best and to constantly improve.
Here are a few examples of poker discipline in action:
- when you would love to bust an opponent by chasing an inside straight draw, but you fold instead,
- when you read and re-read every word of the latest poker book, even though you will miss going to the movies,
- when you drop down a level when losing, rather than moving up to try to quickly recover,
- when you open a bottled water while playing, even though you are really thirsty for an ice cold beer,
- when you are tired and go to bed, instead of squeezing in one last Sit n Go tournament, and
- when you eat light, instead of devouring that huge meal just before a tournament.
These are just some common sense, everyday, well known rules. And, there are many more.
The important question is, did you break any today? Every lapse in discipline underlines mental resolve. That is, the lazier and looser we get, the lazier and looser we get. It is a steep, slippery slope.
Like they say, practice makes perfect. What they also say, is that what you practice is what you will become. So, if you practice bad habits, you will become, most assuredly, perfectly bad. And, vice versa.
With experience you will learn all of the good, as well as all of the bad poker habits. Self-discipline, or the lack of self-discipline will then determine which poker path you follow. It is entirely up to you. Will you become a perfectly good, or a perfectly bad poker player?