On the surface, poker appears to be a simple game similar to monopoly, scrabble, or video games. When you really go deep into poker, you realize that it is more than just a game. Poker is a game of psychological warfare and only the strong will survive. After you get the basic framework down for your game, controlling your emotions is the single more important aspect in playing great poker. Anyone can learn the odds, starting hand requirements, and how to act in various hand situations. Only a small percentage of the poker playing population can control their emotions when things are going bad. Playing well after losing big pots is the thing that separates great players from average ones. Think about everything you do in life that follows a similar pattern. When you are in a bad mood, you have trouble concentrating on everyday events. When you are angry, you have trouble thinking straight. When you get in a heated argument, you will say things that you do not really mean. As human animals, we are very emotional when it comes to life. Poker is a game that takes us through the various range of emotions. We have the highest highs after raking in a huge pot. We have the lowest lows when we lose a big pot. Most of our losses will occur in bunches.
Think about how terrible you play golf after hitting a bad shot. That one bad shot may lead to a 10 consecutive bad shots or a totally ruined round. Many people believe they would play much better if these emotions did not get the best of them. They believe there is some mystical power that the good players possess which allows them to stay cool under pressure. Emotional control is a skill that can be learned by anyone. In any sport, game, or competition, emotional control is the 'thing' that makes great players. Emotion is all part of the game and if you can not control your emotions, you need to work on your game. Similar to anything else in life, it takes a lot of hard work and experience to control your emotions at the poker table.