But some players come to the felt with a major part of their arsenal muted: they lack the psychological backing to allow them to attack poker properly.
While many people talk about the mathematics, strategy, knowledge of opponents and heart that it takes to play poker competently, most ignore the need for psychological abilities - along with all of those components - to play to the maximum of your abilities.
One of those psychological factors I've found improves your game is what I call "The Complete Circle."
The Complete Circle has three components: support from family, support from knowledgeable poker friends and non-poker interests. If you have only one or two parts of this circle, you're not reaching the full potential of a segment of the psychology of the game.
The first part, support from family, is perhaps the most critical part. For some in the poker world, they face dislike, ridicule and sometimes out-and-out derision from family members regarding their pursuits in the world of poker.
It can be parents, a spouse or any significant other who, if they don't agree with what you are doing, can cause you to be apprehensive at the tables.
For example, in many families, gambling is seen as a bottom-of-the-barrel pursuit, and that has an effect on a player's game. Many players admit they lied to their parents about their poker pursuits at first because of this.
It wasn't until they rectified the situation and received the blessing of their parents that they were able to fully extend their skills at the tables.
When it comes to spouses and significant others, that can be even trickier than the parental part. A partner, through repeated argument and disagreement about the money and time involved in the game, can induce a player to not be at their best.
You've probably seen this in action at the felt. A player moves from the table to take a cell phone call. Their significant other badgers them about when they'll be home or whether a bill has been paid. Meanwhile, the chips are sitting on the table. The player comes back and is on significant tilt, perhaps to the point of losing those chips.
It is critical to poker success to have your significant other firmly behind you in your chosen hobby or occupation. Why do you think most poker players have partners who are involved in some way, either recreationally or professionally, with the game?
It is not only a situation of "birds of a feather" - it also denotes mutual understanding and support.
The second part of The Complete Circle, support from knowledgeable poker friends, is good for the growth of your game. Instead of ruminating about particular issues such as bad beats, the play of particular hands or alternative strategies in the recesses of your own mind, having several poker-playing compatriots to bounce these questions off of can not only expand your knowledge of the game but also give fresh insight not bound by your own preconceptions.
These friends can come from a multitude of areas. With the multitude of poker forums available, poker players can build a network of people that evolve into friendships.
For the most part, fellow players in a live game can be helpful and those relationships can build into long-lasting bonds of camaraderie. Finally, a supportive spouse or family member can fill this and the first segment of The Complete Circle as well.
The final part of The Complete Circle, non-poker interests, is something everyone needs with their chosen hobbies or professions. Do you truly believe that a radio DJ, after playing music for several hours in the day, goes home and does the same? Do you think a mechanic, after grinding over vehicles for a living, goes home and works on his car?
The ability to step away from what is a focal point of your life, whether a hobby or profession, is important to a fulfilling life.
While it is important to have a passion for the game of poker, it is also important to have outside interests that can release your mind from that pursuit. The change of pace is critical to recharging the batteries and perhaps even refueling the passion that is important to success.
Having anything be a 24/7 pursuit not only eventually leads to burnout but it also stunts the ability to make adjustments to your mindset and skills to become better.
By having The Complete Circle filled, you will have made substantial strides toward success at the tables. It will clear your mind, allow you to focus on the tasks at hand and relieve outside pressures that can distract you from your pursuit at the tables.
It is a segment of the psychology of poker that (to an extent) you can change to improve your game immediately.