How Not to Use Visualization

You’ve probably heard that visualizing can help you have better results at the poker table (or in any high pressure setting for that matter). The truth is that visualization can be very effective if used properly, but most people use it incorrectly.


We have the mistaken notion that we should imagine ourselves playing at our best while exhibiting a calm, cool, and confident demeanor. This is all well and good except for one thing. We humans are not very good at controlling our emotions, and in a high-pressure situation, it is highly unlikely that you will remain 100% calm and confident. You might experience anxiety, frustration, and exhilaration all in a short window of time.


That’s because emotions are much like the weather. They are ever changing and often occur unconsciously. For this reason, they are almost entirely out of our control. The only thing we can actually control is how we act and react. That is, we get to choose our behaviors, but our emotions - not so much!


Before you sit down to visualize, I recommend taking the time to write out how you would like the event to go. What are you committed to achieving? Getting clear on your most valued goals and actions will pay dividends over time.


Next, think about the possible obstacles and challenges that you are likely to face. You can write these down, too. Writing tends to increase engagement and commitment, so that’s a bonus!


During your visualization session (which I recommend you do for a few minutes each day), imagine yourself playing at your best no matter what feelings crop up. See yourself clearly dealing with any obstacles and challenges that get thrown at you. Visualize yourself staying committed to your goals regardless of how you feel. You do not have to feel great to play great.


So that’s it for the visualization instructions! Take the time to think about how you want to behave during your next playing session and fully imagine yourself playing well despite what feelings come over you. Equanimity is the real secret to tilt-free poker and visualization can help you get there.