My name is Ben Roberts and I
play online at Full Tilt Poker. If
you want to learn more about
my poker career, keep reading.
I was born in Persia, but I
moved to London when I was a
teenager. That was also about
the time that I started playing
poker. I was on holiday, sitting
with friends on a beach, when
someone took out a deck of
cards. I was hooked from the
first deal, and it's never let me
go.
Full Tilt Poker Tips From the Pros, David Grey
Full Tilt Poker

Tips From The Pros
Ben Roberts
Lesson: 47
On Cavemen and Poker Players
February 6, 2006

My name is Ben Roberts and I play online at Full Tilt Poker. If you want to
learn more about my poker career, keep reading . . .

I was born in Persia, but I moved to London when I was a teenager. That
was also about the time that I started playing poker. I was on holiday, sitting
with friends on a beach, when someone took out a deck of cards. I was
hooked from the first deal, and it's never let me go.

Since then, I've worked hard to improve my game. I've played all over
Europe, focusing on all the No Limit and Pot Limit games, mostly out of
necessity because those are the only games available on the continent.

I'm predominately a cash game player, working those tables so I can build up
the money necessary for tournament entry fees and expenses. And of the
tournaments I've played, I've made it to the final table several times,
including the $3K Pot Limit Hold 'em at the 2001 World Series of Poker, the
$10K No Limit Hold 'em at the 2004 Grand Prix de Paris, and, most recently,
the $3K No Limit Hold 'em at the 2005 Five Diamond Poker Classic. So far, my
best finish came in 1998, when I took sixth place at the World Series of Poker
Main Event.

Even though I've played poker since I was a boy, it wasn't my first passion.
For a long time, I wanted to be a professional snooker player. Even though I
was good, and had the dedication and drive to make a go of it, there was an
important element missing from my game... talent. I could see it others, but
not in myself. But that all changed when I started playing more and more
poker.

I still live in London, and when I'm not playing poker, I spend my free time
with my children and reading as much as I can.

There are four possible outcomes for any session of poker. You might win a
little, lose a little, win a lot, or lose a lot. Most of us react differently to the
different outcomes. When we win big, we're elated; when we lose big we're
upset. Think back to some recent bad beats. Do you recall feeling a rush of
adrenaline and an overwhelming sense of rage? If you haven't encountered
this, you're lucky; most players have.

I believe that reactions at the poker table are so strong because the game
taps into a very primal portion of our brains. In poker, we're fighting for
something we view as critical - money. In these days of relative safety and
comfort, our battles at the poker table are as close as we get to the life and
death struggles that our ancient ancestors encountered. Eons ago, the
adrenaline served a purpose - it triggered a response critical to survival.
Without thought or reason, ancient man knew two things: Fight or flee. The
quick surge of panic and anger kept the species alive.

At the poker table, however, the same response serves no useful purpose.
You can't beat the dealer over the head with a rock. Screaming in panic and
running from the room isn't a great idea either. So most of us just steam - we
tilt. With no outlet for the excess chemicals, we sit at the table, angry, while
our judgment becomes clouded. Maybe we blast off some money or run a
ridiculous bluff as a way to relieve the pressure.

The thing is, you need to overcome these instinctual reactions if you're going
to become a consistent winner at poker. It's not easy to control the
instinctual part of your brain, but it's something that you can work on every
time you play poker. Endeavor to leave each session in the same emotional
state. If you win big, keep yourself from getting too excited. Remind yourself
that this is just one session that has gone well, and that another is bound to
go poorly. Reverse the argument after a big loss.

I believe that if you commit to engaging the thinking, reasoning portion of
your brain at every opportunity you can, in time, overcome the primal
reactions. It isn't easy. Some players with incredible mastery of the game are
long-term losers because they can't get a handle on their emotions.

Embrace the challenge of evening your emotional responses. It may be the
most important thing you can do to improve your poker results.

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