Don’t be a Poker Brat!
Phil Hellmuth has eleven World of Series Poker bracelets, but, he is better known for being an obnoxious sore loser than he is for being a skillful player. While his meltdowns at the table are entertaining, ranting after losing a hand actually sets him up for more loss in the future. To quote Sun Tzu, “If your enemy is quick to anger, goad him”. Great poker players prey on moments of frustration and weakness, and throwing a fit is a sign of both.
Anyone who plays poker understands the importance of table image. When you are first seated at a table you can tell, even without looking at the other players chip stacks, who is having a good or bad day. Body language speaks volumes about a players mindset. You can tell by their posture, the look on their face and certainly by their angry comments that they are frustrated, and it is just a matter of time before they “donk off” their few remaining chips.
In most cases it is wrong to kick someone while they are down, but not at the poker table. Good players understand the importance of capitalizing on a frustrated players bad decisions. This is a key reason why you have to shake off a loss and show no signs that you are put off your game. It is easier said than done, to say the least, but maintaining your composure is essential to your table image.
After taking a bad beat or losing a big hand, it is a good idea to take a break. Whether it is by doing a couple laps around the slot machines or simply sitting out a couple hands, you should give yourself time to cool off after taking a big hit. Players having a rough night at the table often feel that luck is not on their side and believe they are destined to lose their remaining chips regardless how they play. It is no co-incidence that shortly after a player has a melt down he is usually heading out the door grumbling about bad luck. Good players love a steaming opponent like sharks love blood in the water.
By taking a few minutes to regain your bearings, you not only avoid careless mistakes, you also do not allow other players to take advantage of your annoyed state. Always remember: Emotions will hurt you at the poker table. As long as you have chips you have a chance to make a comeback, and maintaining your composure during the inevitable lows of poker is an invaluable attribute to a player.