When playing poker, skill, luck and awareness are the three primary factors of success. While the level of one’s skill is probably the most significant of the three, awareness of oneself, or mindfulness, is the factor that offers the greatest opportunity for most players to improve ones game. Most often a player will make a mistake or not take advantage of an opportunity because a challenging situation, another player or an environmental factor has trigger him. Once triggered, players lose their focus and/or their composure and make card-playing decisions that are not specifically related to the game in front of them. In this situation, a player is automatically and unconsciously preoccupied with managing his reactions and loses sight of the strategic poker decision before them. Learning how to identify triggers and how to regain focus and composure elevates one’s poker play more powerfully and quickly than developing increased knowledge of and skill in the game.

Bob Silverstein, MA, LCSW, the creator of MindfulPoker, is a skilled amateur poker player. He has won a number of local charity tournaments as well as the Milwaukee Best Light qualifying tournament for the Main Event at the 2008 No Limit Texas Hold ‘em event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). He has steadily improved his play as he has learned how to mindfully regulate his attention to his internal state as he plays poker. Bob is also a psychotherapist and executive coach with specialties in crisis management, workplace trauma and breathing meditation. You can read more about Bob Here