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The Safest Way to Play Poker

Published on Friday, March 19, 2010 by

We’ve all seen great Hollywood movies revolving around high stakes games of poker, but when a gang of armed robbers burst in to the main event at the European Poker Tour in Berlin there was much more than money at stake. The masked raiders, armed with assault rifles and hand grenades, made off with the jackpot, worth over $1million. However, while this was perhaps more excitement than your average poker player was bargaining for, nobody was seriously hurt and only a few suffered minor injuries. For many, though, it is another great excuse to enjoy a few rounds of Texas Hold ’em in their favourite online casino.

Not only are you far less likely to be interrupted by masked gunmen (unless, of course, you are James Bond) but you are able to dip in and out as you will. The pressure involved at international poker tournaments is immense, as the best players in world poker lock horns for the biggest prizes. Imagine earning a seat at the EPT to find yourself sitting across from Phil Hellmuth or Johnny Chan, two herculean legends of the common game and both members of the Poker Hall of Fame. It would be enough for an amateur player to call it a day there and then!

The flip side of this coin is that to become the best one must defeat the best. Hiding yourself away out of fear is no way to progress in poker, just as it is not in life. Should a player earn his seat at the World Series of Poker, for example, he should remember that the key word in that sentence is “earn”. He (or she) has a right to be there, and would not have gotten to that stage without having some skill at the game, be it worked at long and hard or a God-given talent for playing cards. In either case, the pressure can build up, and even the greatest players may feel a cold trickle of sweat glistening on their brow. In such a thing were to happen, amateur players should know that there are methods players can undertake to help them relax and focus their mind.

The key method to relax in a major poker tournament with the pressure building is to concentrate on the task at hand. It may seem ridiculous to say “be one with the cards” but this is exactly the point. Carlton Hammersmith, Professor in Sports Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, believes that the conscious mind can subjugate the unconscious mind to the sportsman’s benefit. “Believing in your own ability is a huge factor for all sportsmen and women,” he says. “The constant reiteration of belief informs the subconscious, relieving those doubts that can creep into even the strongest of minds. In this case, the game of high-pressure poker is no different from that of World Cup football or Olympic athletics.”

In truth, playing at a poker tournament is no more dangerous than heading to your bank to make a deposit into your account. While it may be safer to play online it is by no means the same in terms of atmosphere or experience. In order to sample the true spirit of the game as depicted in the myths and legends of our time and face our own poker demons we must make that journey into the belly of the whale and return victorious with a Golden Fleece of our own.

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