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There is an old saying: “Life is full of choices.”

Should I take option A, B or C? To make the best choice, it is important to have as much information as possible. Then use this information in selecting the best choice – making the best decision.

Interruptions, distractions and situations in life often make it more difficult to make the best decisions. It’s the same when you are playing poker. If you allow these distractions to divert your attention from making the decision, it is bound to be less than optimum.

In short, you need to focus on the issue at hand – to win chips at the poker table.

Best way to focus:

The big-screen TV up on the wall enticing you to watch the football game that’s on. Your neighbor wants to get into idle conversation with you. It’s dinner time and you are hungry.

There are so many opportunities to distract you from the primary “job” at the poker table. It’s wise to focus on the game so you can make the best decisions in your own interest. That’s key to going home a winner.

Yet, your ability to focus is challenged by many factors while sitting at the poker table. It takes a conscientious effort on your part to overcome anything that will take your attention away from the task at hand – winning chips. To effectively focus on the game, you must be alert.

My first book, The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS (see Special Deal listed in the current issue of GamingToday), applied engineering and life experiences I had learned over the years. That’s a reasonable approach, considering that the game of poker is a microcosm – a miniature version – of life.

It is essential to be alert – fully observant of the game at hand. Pay full attention to the action at the table, watching your opponents, considering the cards on the board as they affect your hand and your opponents’ likely hands.

If you are offered a mixed drink or beer, smile and decline. Avoid alcoholic beverages that would numb your alertness. If you take a prescription drug that cautions against driving a car, wait until after the poker session is over before taking it.

You had a hard day at the office and have come to the casino to relax. Perhaps you have been playing for too many hours and found that playing for too many hours tired you out.

Playing on is a mistake!

Say, it’s long past dinner time, so you order a dinner while seated at the poker table. Perhaps you use your casino rewards card so dinner is on the house. Turn your seat away from the table, relax and enjoy your meal.

Tell the dealer to “deal me out!”

It’s hard to focus on the game if eating your dinner at the same time. Besides it’s not healthy. You never know what germs you might pick up from the chips or the cards.

Remember, drinking and playing poker don’t mix! Avoid distractions or anything that will impair your ability to be alert. Focus on the game so you can make the best decisions.

(For any comments or questions on this week’s article, contact “The Engineer” online at: [email protected])

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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