Upswing Poker coach Hristivoje “ALLinPav” Pavlovic has proven that the poker dream is still alive.
About five years ago he was grinding micro stakes with a small bankroll. Fast forward to today, and he’s a mid/high stakes tournament pro that is one of the most popular Twitch poker streamers.
There’s no doubt about it: rising through the stakes that quickly requires tons of poker skill. However, the mental game aspect of moving up is also extremely important, and it’s overlooked by many aspiring pros.
That will be the focus of today’s article — providing you with four of Pav’s most important mental game tips that helped him go from a recreational player grinding the micros to a professional playing in some of the world’s biggest online tournaments.
While these tips focus on tournament players, they’re certainly applicable for cash games and other game types as well.
The tips come from a recent interview with friend of Upswing Miikka “ChuckBassPoker” Anttonen for the Finnish poker site Pokerisivut. You can watch the full interview here or read below for our five biggest takeaways.
Tip #1: Respect bankroll management and be calculated with your shots at higher stakes
Bankroll management is a hot topic in poker because there are a lot of conflicting opinions about it. Some people advocate for an aggressive bankroll strategy, but Pav opts for a more conservative approach in most instances:
I think a lot of tournament grinders have this degenerate mindset where they want to win big, where I think cash game grinders try and grind it out slowly. One of the best pieces I can give to somebody is respect bankroll management and don’t shot take without a good reason. Poker isn’t about that one big score.
Poker is more about being able to maintain financial freedom. The more you shot take, the more you put yourself at risk of not being financially free and grinding your dream job. Of course there are times when you can take a calculated shot take. But I think oftentimes people don’t do it within reason and don’t follow pretty key rules.
For more bankroll management advice, check out: Poker Bankroll Management Tips & Tools That Work In 2021.
Note: Learn step-by-step how to become the best player at the table when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Elite pros (including Pav!) have been adding new content every week for the past four years, and you get all of it when you join. Learn more now!
Tip #2: Learn to manage your emotions and control tilt
Every poker player has experienced tilt at some point or another. Pav is no different.
In fact, one of his most watched stream clips involved him breaking his mouse out of tilt. He was then dealt Ace-King in back-to-back hands but timed out and was forced to muck because his mouse wasn’t working. Check out the clip here if you’d like:
lmao @ALLinPav I’ve never seen this clip before… 🙁
Hope -> Rage -> Confusion -> Shock -> Terror -> Helplessness
IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY: Don’t slam your mouse when you rage during a poker session pic.twitter.com/iYo1xkdebw
— Joey Ingram 🤠 (@Joeingram1) April 8, 2020
But over time, Pav has been able to improve his emotional control. Here’s what he had to say about tilt:
I think you get a crazy side to come out of you when you don’t understand the math or variance behind the game. If it feels more like a gamble to you, you act a little bit more crazy. And that’s how I acted. I developed being calm over time.
I used to tilt a lot. I used to slam my mouse a lot. I think you get mad over things you don’t understand. I really believe that tilt is mainly derived from confusion. It’s hard to get tilted if you know you’re making the right play and it’s well within your bankroll.
For more about tilt control, check out: How to Understand and Combat Tilt in Poker.
Tip #3: Take notes while you’re studying
All of the best poker players in the world study their game on a regular basis. But in order to retain as much information as possible, Pav believes it’s important to take notes.
I try and takes notes where I write down what I learned, questions about what I’m trying to figure out, and answers to those questions. There really is a massive difference between reading something and writing it down. I forget so much shit. I have to review notes weekly to make sure it stays.
Watching a video without taking notes is better than not watching a video at all, but you’ll retain more information by actively taking notes that you can read through later.
Tip #4: Know when to take days off
Poker is fun, so it’s easy to get into a habit of playing way too much. But it’s impossible to be on your A-Game 100% of the time, so taking time off every now and then is important. Check out what Pav had to say about this:
You have to take days off when your body wants you to take days off. I think it’s important not to force the grind. Respect your brain and your body. Take days off. If playing poker five days per week is too much for you, drop down to four or three. Play shorter sessions. You have to be willing to adapt.
Taking this time off will allow your brain to recharge and will make your game sharper for your next session on the felt.
Bonus Tip: Use the Upswing Lab to improve your game
Okay, I know. This last tip isn’t about the mental side of poker. But it’s still super important. Check out what Pav had to say about improving your technical poker skill:
I think what’s sick about the Upswing Poker Lab is that you don’t only have me; you have several other coaches. You also have all of this other Lab content that goes from building a bankroll, to playing micros, to playing high stakes, etc. There are hundreds and hundreds of hours.
I really believe the best thing that any aspiring poker player can do is go with a training site as an investment. Even if you pay $1 for an hour of content, you’re going to turn that into hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It’s one of the best investments you can make.
I think one thing that prevents a lot of people from going with a training site is that they are starting out in micros. So they think “Do I really want to take a percentage of my bankroll and put it into a training site when I can use those buy-ins for tournaments?” They can’t snap out of that mindset. I understand it, but they have to understand that it’s an investment in your future.
Note: Ready to “invest in your future” and join 6,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!