The Four Levels of Poker

Level 1: What do I have? These players focus only on the cards in their hand, not thinking at all about what you may have and whether it’s better than them. You will make a hell of a lot of money playing against them.

Level 2: What do I have and what do they have? 
These players will think about both the strength of their hand and the strength of your hand. These are better players. They’re at least paying attention to both of those things so they are less likely to pay you off with a really big hand because they’re actually thinking about whether you’ve got them beat or not.

Level 3: What do I have, what do they have, and what do they think I have? These are much better players because now they’re thinking about how you’re thinking about the hand.

Level 4: What do I have, what do they have, what do they think I have and how can I make them think I have something different than I have? This is the highest level of poker. Now you’re thinking about how you can manipulate other players into thinking about the hand wrongly, into misreading you. The better you are at all of these factors, the more likely you are to win.

Habits of Mentally Tough Poker Players

Self-motivated. The mentally tough poker player is self-directed and pushes himself towards success. He doesn't have to be forced to work at his game. He loves the game and enjoys the work. When faced with adversity, he is motivated to do whatever it takes to triumph.

* Self-confident. If you want to increase your mental toughness, work on your self-confidence. A self-confident player has a strong belief in herself and her ability to perform well. She doesn't fall victim to self-defeating thoughts.

* Not making excuses. To become a truly dominant force in the game, you must refuse to make excuses. The mentally tough player takes full responsibility for his play and any mistakes made. He knows that by taking this attitude, he can control his own destiny.

* Emotionally controlled. The best players are in control of their emotions. Poor emotional control leads to poor decision-making. Anger, frustration, and fear must be controlled or they will end up controlling you.
Calm under pressure. Don't avoid pressure situations. See them as challenges to be conquered. When the odds are against you, remain calm and see it as an opportunity to show what you are capable of.

* Determined. You must have a strong will to succeed in this game. Be relentless in pursuit of your goals and refuse to give up. Take all setbacks in stride and be determined to learn from your mistakes.

Focused. To become a great player you must be capable of long periods of intense concentration. Being able to tune into what is important while letting go of what isn't is a sign of mental toughness.

"Poker Psychology"

Did you know?
Free poker online was played as early as the late 1990s in the form of IRC Poker. Planet Poker was the first online cardroom to offer real money games in 1998.

Tidbit: The first real money poker game was dealt on January 1, 1998. Author Mike Caro became the "face" of Planet Poker in October 1999.

Dead Guy Plays Poker?
A Puerto Rican man, who died unexpectedly due to extended drug abuse at the age of 30, was able to play one last home game thanks to his friends. His embalmed body was placed at the table, his regular seat, and he was even given cards.

2-to-1 you'll LOVE it!

High Roller Radio

The Dunning–Kruger Effect 
This is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

Dunning and Kruger Propose...
That, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
- fail to recognize their own lack of skill;
- fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
- fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
- recognize & acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

Pay Attention!
According to a recent study:
“The quality of professional poker players’ hands is perceived accurately from arm movements.” 
In the study, 78 undergrads were shown video clips from the World Series of Poker that included no sound but had one version where you could only see the players’ faces and one where you could see their upper torsos too. They were asked to rank how strong they thought the player’s hand was on a scale of 1-7. It found that seeing their bodies significantly increased the chances of reading their hand correctly.

For Poker, and Life!
"The most costly mistake you can make is to not play your best game all the time. There! I said it, and I'm glad. The worst mistake players make – even world-class professionals, even Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese, even me – is playing poker at a level below their capabilities. You should resolve right now that you'll go through life always playing your best game, but – no matter how firm your conviction – I'm betting against you. The trick is to catch yourself quickly when you stray, and bring yourself right back on course."
- Mike Caro, the Mad Genius of Poker