Many new players emigrate to the world of poker with optimistic images of glorious victory clouding their thoughts, hopes and dreams. It's an avenue to easy money and fame, supposedly.
"It must be easy to win. All those guys on the TV playing for 6, sometimes 7, figure sums make it look so easy. If they can do it, surely I can do it. And heck, I'm not selfish, I'd be content with even a fraction of their success."
While portions of this thinking can be true for some, there are many things new players don't realize and only learn through their own trials and tribulations. Those pros on television often come off as players who made it to the top as a formality. In a sense that is true. They had the inherent skill necessary to take the game seriously and commit to constant improvement. But there is more to their success than meets the eye on television.
A new player who wishes to take the game seriously and steadily improve must take into account the variance that attaches to any game involving cards. And variance, being the fair and benevolent benefactor that it is, will balance all things over the long run. It is imperative for new players to come to grips with this.
No matter how good you get at poker, you will lose. Time after time, session after session, you will experience the negative side of variance. The beauty of it is, it happens to everyone and it balances over time. The key thing to focus on and remember is how you respond and react to these situations. It is comparable to baseball where hitting a ball 3 times out of 10 or better makes you one of the best in the sport. That means even the best players will fail at bat at least 70% of the time. Poker has an even lower percentage (assuming a fair/full ring game), even when you have an edge in skill.
New players have trouble adjusting to this concept. The dark side of poker variance will impact them emotionally more emphatically than experienced players, especially since new players tend to make more poor decisions and subsequently lose more often.
I Remain Calm
The best players in the world are those who have learned to minimize their emotional response to the good/bad luck side of poker and instead process information from an objective view. They realize that an unfortunate card is inevitable but what holds more value is the ability to make the correct decision and the correct play according to the circumstance.
A valid summation is that the game and the myriad skill sets it contains can all be mastered over time with worthy dedication and commitment but unless you can learn to address your inner cauldron of emotions that are constantly tried and tested by bad beats and antagonistic players, you will struggle to reach the next level. Improving your mind state will in turn improve your game.
The best way to practice at the table (or playing online) is to play at a level you are comfortable at financially yet still puts a tangible/manageable amount of stress on your shoulders. It is good to test yourself in this way but be prepared to handle both good and bad sessions. Becoming good is easy but to become great takes years of practice and patience.
If you are looking for a place to start, the best poker sites can be reviewed and compared online.
Take your time and make the best decision to suit your needs - just as you would at the tables. Good luck.