Sports & Gaming

How to Think at the Poker Table

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 11:14 min

Daniel believes it is vital not to let emotion get in the way of logic. Learn the common mental traps poker players need to avoid and the checklist Daniel uses to keep a clear head.

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Topics include: Maintain a Consistent Order of Operations • Don’t Let Emotion Supersede Logic • The Gambler's Fallacy • Don’t Gamble, Stick to the Math • Don't Throw Good Money After Bad • Listen to Your Instincts • Be Objective in Your Self-Analysis • Quiz: Thinking About Thinking


So when you're playing poker, guess what? You're going to have to do a lot of thinking, right? And how you approach thinking is going to affect your results in the long run. And the best way to really effectively learn how to properly think about poker is to do a lot of your hard work in the lab away from the table, where you decide sort of how to approach and tackle an order of operations in terms of how you think through a hand. So for example, if you're on a flop and you're facing a bet of 300 from opponent, well, what's the first thing that you think about? OK, for me, it's maybe, what's the strength of my hand. Second thing I might think of is, what range of hands do I think my opponent may have. The third thing is, all right, what are the pot odds on being laid. And so, now I have a formula that once I've done this as many times as I have becomes like breathing, but it's important to have an idea of what you want to be thinking about because there are so many variables in poker. What does he look like? What has he done last time? There's so many things to think about. If you don't have kind of like an order of operations for how you proceed in this way, you're going into missing clues and missing important parts of the hand that you didn't think to think about. So it's very important before you even sit at a table to think about how you're going to think. One of the most important things to think about when thinking about thinking is what should you spend your time and energy thinking about. Too many players I see focus on results, and they're results oriented. So they 9-4 of diamonds because it was the correct decision. They noticed that on the flop it was 9-9-4, and they start thinking, oh, maybe I should have played that. Why? Based on what? Based on the fact that it actually came? You don't want to let emotion drive your decisions. You don't want emotion to supersede logic. You have to focus on making the best decisions available to you when they present themselves. And typically what emotion does, it gets in the way of that, and causes players to go on tilt, to make decisions that they shouldn't otherwise. So you decide before you even start playing poker, like what is the right way to play 9-4 offsuit? If you come to the determination that it's a fold, the fact that 9-4 offsuit would have won the last three pots doesn't change the fact that when you were thinking about thinking how to play these situations you decided it was a fold. If you do all your lab work and decide that 9-6 offsuit is not a hand that you want to call a raise with, and you notice that two hands in a row, you folded 9-6 and it would have won, that shouldn't have any effect on your logical process for how you think about a hand. That's just emotion talking. And essentially, what emotion does at the poker table, it gets in the way of logic, and the idea of a rush, or I feel like I haven't won a pot. I'm just going to win this one. That ju...

About the Instructor

Put yourself across the felt from Daniel Negreanu, the biggest live tournament poker winner of all time. The six-time World Series of Poker champion teaches poker strategy, advanced theory, and practice through hand-reviews of his winning games. Learn how to sharpen your mental game through demos on reading opponents and spotting tells. Join Daniel at the table to increase your win rate, grow your ROI, and get your game “in the money.”

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Daniel Negreanu

Join Daniel at the poker table. Learn his strategies to advance your cash, tournament, and online play.

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