Poker Mindset: How to Warm Up Your Brain Before a Poker Session

poker strategy Mar 24, 2020

It's funny.

When you think about professional sports, do you know an athlete that doesn't warm up before his work out?

In sports, it's out of question whether you warm yourself up or not.

Because if you don't, your risk of injuries increases drastically.

Now, what's the funny thing?

In poker, many players don't even think about warming up before a grind session. I even know some poker pros that don't warm up.

But just as your warm-up in sports prevents you from getting injured, it's just as important to warm up your brain before you sit down for a poker session.

Your brain needs a couple of minutes until you are fully engaged and able to play your A-game. This means that you will play worse automatically at the beginning of every session.

You might be tempted to think: "Well, that's certainly true. But a couple of minutes won't ruin my session, even if I'm not playing my best game."

While that is true, you are a poker player. Which means you should measure the quality of your decisions in the long run, not the short run.

It won't have a massive impact if you skip your warm-up once. But keep skipping it, and those "couple of minutes" quickly sum up. Remember: You always want to take the MOST EV line.

When you start your poker session with a warmed up poker brain, you can make better and quicker decisions right from the beginning.

In this article, I want to show you techniques how you can warm up your Poker brain. Each of them only takes 15 minutes but will have a tremendous impact on your performance.

 

1) Watching a Poker training Video/Twitch

Before starting a poker session, you can watch some poker related videos or your favorite Twitch streamers.

I would recommend you to watch Live Plays because it will help you to get the feeling for the time pressure you will face in-game.

During the video, you should avoid doing something else on your PC, as it will decrease the effectiveness of this method.

There are two ways to warm up your poker brain with training videos:

 

1) When a spot occurs, you stop the video and think about what you would do in this situation.

Don't take too much time doing this, though. Because in-game, you can't just pause.

Therefore, I recommend you to use a timer for your decisions.

 

2) Whenever a spot occurs, say out loud what you would do in this situation and don't wait for the player's decision.

Getting used to the time pressure is very important when it comes to warming up your poker brain.

 

2) Solver Work

If you own a poker solver like PioSolver or GTO+, you can use the software to start your session. (If you don't, skip this point and go directly to point 3)

Solvers are a powerful tool to get your brain into poker mode. For example, you could use a marked hand that causes you troubles when it happened.

Simulate the hand before you start, and see how the solver approaches the spot.

Avoid only to have a look at how your hand should play. Always have a look at how your range should be constructed and search for patterns that you can use in-game.

 

3) Equilab

Especially for beginning poker players, Equilab is an excellent software to get used to equities.

But advanced poker players can undoubtedly benefit from the tool as well.

Now, before your session, open Equilab and run some calculations.

For example, You are 3betting the Button from the Small Blind with JJ. How much equity would you need to call a Shove if the Button came over the top? Which hands in your range are strong enough?

If you do that repeatedly with different hands, you will develop a strong in-game feeling, that allows you to estimate how wide you can call or shove.

 

4) Review Hand History

Use a poker forum and try to find some hands that fit topics you've been working on lately.

Once you find a thread that matches what you are looking for, read the hand and give your opinion.

This doesn't only help the person who asked for advice, but forces you to think about the spot too.

A lot of people just read the hand and directly jump to the answers. Then they think: "Yeah, I would do the same in this spot."

Avoid doing that, if you are serious about poker and want to improve.

 

5) Read your solver explorations

This tip is for more advanced players who are capable of working with solvers.

Whenever you solve a spot, I recommend to write your explorations down in a word document, so you don't have to run the same simulations over and over again. (We are humans, and forgetting things lies in our nature)

Having a look at your solver solutions before starting your grind can be a great way to warm up your poker brain.

I do not recommend using solvers for newer players, though. And the reason is simple: The output a solver gives you is only as good as your input. So, in the beginning, it is likely that you use solver the wrong way, which leads to a wrong output.

Ultimately, you start to implement the wrong strategies in your game. Therefore, you should only use solvers when you know how to use them correctly.

 

Summary

Although it is very important, most players underrate warming up before a poker session. Don't make the same mistake and always warm-up before your session!

We are all different. So what works for me might not work as well for you. For this reason, experiment with different approaches and try to find the right one for you!

Once you get into a warm-up routine, you will question how you were even able to skip it in the past.

I hope my article helped you to understand the importance of the topic, and that you now have some ideas on how you can warm up your poker brain!

 

Do you know how to adjust against different player types? This article will help you to get the most out of every opponent:

Do you know how to exploit each type of opponent perfectly? Click here to check out the article!

You want to dig deeper and uncover the mysteries of your mind? Click here to Check out our Mindset Course by Steffen Rachut, one of the best Poker mindset coaches around!

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