Beating the micro stakes consistently - discipline and self-control

There are many things and aspects that tend to be overrated in poker, especially at MicroStakes. One of the best examples might be levelling good players can often talk themselves into making a very advanced play versus players who most of the time are just playing by following their hand strength. Vice versa, there are a couple of things that are way underrated in poker. These two are discipline and self control. One can be a great player technically and have a lot of mathematical knowledge about the game, but if he isn't disciplined and not able to control himself, chances are that he won't do well. However, if you're looking to beat Micro Stakes, these two things are close to being the most important. You'll need to have a basic set of skills and knowledge, but dedication and discipline is what really matters. These two can turn any mediocre or loosing player into a winner. Lets take a more in-depth look at both of these aspects along with an advice on how to better prepare and control yourself while you play.

Motivation

Part of being able to discipline yourself at the poker tables is having a great motivation for playing in the first place. You must have a poker goal, something to achieve and to strive for. From my personal experience, having a thing that you've always wanted to have is great for motivation. Back in the early days I would print out a picture of that thing, car for example, and create a motivational poster in front of my computer. Every time I play, I would see the longterm goal thus gaining motivation to stay disciplined and play as good as I can.

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Controlling Emotions

The so called ''Tilt'' is the worst possible thing in poker. You loose several pots due to bad luck and you get frustrated, which usually leads to anger. When you are angry and playing poker, it almost never can end well. Staying calm at all times and quitting when starting to ''tilt'' are probably the two hardest things that you'll ever experience while playing.
The very first thing to do is implementation of a stop loss. When you loose your head, it usually goes along with many buy-ins and a big chunk of your bankroll. Implement a specific amount of buy-ins as your stop loss and in case you reach it quit immediately. I would advise something around 5 buy-ins, when you are just starting out. More advanced players might see this amount as just normal daily swings, but they usually have millions of hands and years of experience.
Another thing to do is to manage your bankroll very carefully. If you have 100 buy-ins for the stakes you're playing, loosing 5 of them does not seem like a disaster at all. What if you have only 20 buy-ins, though? You just lost 25% of your bankroll and are obviously on tilt now!

''Taking Shots''

Even though we advise and always will tell that conservative bankroll management is one of the keys to success in poker, when looking at the big picture, key to success is something else. I recently talked with a high stakes regular who said that the whole key to succeeding, improving and winning as much money as possible is in constantly taking shots at higher levels. I asked him to tell me more about it, as I was planning to do this article. When I say that you should be taking shots at higher stakes relatively often, this doesn't mean that you should be willing to just gamble it up. Be smart about it, if you use a 100 buy-in rule take a shot with a couple of buy-ins when you have 50 for the next level. Plan it ahead and if you do bad by loosing the planned ones, you can always move back down a rebuild. Doing this will allow you to move up quicker and more importantly, get out of the routine. You aren't looking to sit at the micros forever, are you?