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by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jun 30, 2021


Jonathan LittleHaving the discipline to do the right thing, even if it’s not especially what you “want” to do is important in all aspects of life, and it must be applied to poker if you want to become successful at the game.

First off, if you play too many hands, either due to boredom or wanting to be in the action, you can expect to lose money. When you invest small bits of money poorly before the flop on a regular basis, it is essentially impossible to win in the long run. You must be disciplined and play only the proper hands both before (and after) the flop.

While many people think the concept of discipline only applies to playing the strong hands they know they are supposed to play, you also must be disciplined enough to have an adequate amount of bluffs in your range, and to play your bluffs properly after the flop. When you get to the river with a busted draw, if you give up with it every time, you will be incredibly easy to play against. You must be disciplined enough to bluff adequately and intelligently, even knowing you will lose some portion of the time.

You must also be disciplined enough to recognize when you are in a game that you are not profitable in. Time and time again I see a young hotshot play in games where they are clearly the worst player. Because of this, they eventually end up losing their hard-earned money.

There are also situations where you should not play in a game simply because you are not playing your “A” game. When you find yourself not paying attention to everything going on at the table, it is probably best to quit, unless your opponents play especially poorly.

You must be disciplined enough to not spew away your poker winnings on other needless things. Just because you have a good session does not mean you should spend those profits on clothes, food, or parties. You must also be disciplined enough to not develop one of the numerous leaks that plague great poker players, such as casino gambling or drugs. If you spend all your money on nonsense, you can expect to stay at the same level, or even go broke when the variance catches up to you.

As you can see, there are numerous areas where discipline must be applied to poker. If you look at your overall approach to the game, I am sure you can find some aspects of it where discipline is lacking. Once you notice these flaws, you can correct them and be on your way to becoming an excellent player who holds onto, and accumulates money indefinitely. ♠

Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings, best-selling author of 15 educational poker books, and 2019 GPI Poker Personality of the Year. If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out his training site at