How can someone over six feet tall look so small?
I went to a local football match where a player, for 35 minutes, barely moved out of the centre circle. Looking defeated, he slogged around slowly with a hunchback, barely getting a kick in.
The referee blew for half time.
Watching the dejected bloke trudge off the park, I felt compelled to walk over to him.
“I think that’s the end of my match,” said the player glumly.
I wanted to shout at him until he broke out of his miserable trance.
Of course he’s going to take you off, I thought to myself. You’re not putting in the graft and you deserve to be on the bench.
“Do you want to be taken off?” I asked.
I’d heard through the grapevine that he wasn’t happy with the club and had every intention of leaving at season’s end.
“No,” he replied, stoic and uncompromising.
“Then you need to wake up,” I responded. “Change your physiology. You need to keep on your toes and never top moving. Stand tall. Puff out your chest and shout for the ball.”
Miraculously his manager let him stay on the pitch and it paid off. In the second half, he scored three times without reply.
Three days later, I’d given myself a small bankroll of £2,000 to play with in my local game. Surely that was enough to build on my bankroll.
I was, however, extremely pessimistic and my bankroll, like my attitude, worsened.
A few months later with £900 remaining, I sat down in a £1/1 Dealers Choice cash game and lost another £400. With only £500 left, I decided enough was enough and pulled out of the game.
I thought about the day at the football ground as I drove home that evening, realizing that my attitude mirrored the player’s miserable first half performance.
I became my own worst enemy and finally knew why.
Can you recall a period when you were winning a lot of money in a cash game, or accumulating chips quicker than McDonald’s on delivery day?
I bet you felt happy, relaxed and calm because that’s exactly how I feel when consistently winning.
It’s been scientifically proven that we are influenced both by other people’s non-verbal behaviour and, more importantly, our own.
If you’re feeling down, negative and pessimistic the results will, more often than not, reflect your state of mind. Your ability to make the right decisions depends on a positive state of mind and harbouring negative thoughts can drag a poker game down quicker than a scandal can sink a politician.
How then, do you get yourself out of a slump?
You may have heard of the phrase ‘fake it until you make it.’
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, in her Ted Talk on Body Language, goes one step further in saying, “fake it until you become it.”
This is the tagline slumping poker players should live by.
Her studies show that testosterone levels increase while cortisol levels decrease within two minutes of actively changing your body posture.
Every now and then take a brief break from playing. It may sound absurd, but stretch your neck like a king cobra, spread your arms like a swan going into battle and expand your chest like a mountain gorilla making a dominant stand.
Take comfort knowing you’ll be doing this in your own home.
If you’re playing live get up and do some press ups, go for a walk and stretch, smile and laugh. Do whatever it takes in order to fake it until you believe it.
It doesn’t happen instantaneously and takes a lot of little changes to see a discernible change.
As well as keeping an eye on your own physiology, keep an eye on your opponent’s. Go on the attack if you notice someone has become inward and appears to be shrinking in stature.
Keep reminding yourself of the posture you need to maintain the assertiveness, confidence, and optimism required to take your game to the next level.
Do you have any poker tips of your own that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments box below.