There are essentially three key areas where both you and your opponents are weak and will spew money. These are either the strength/weakness of your poker game, a poor money management policy and a weak mental state. As a rule, then money is lost in poker down one of these three avenues. Which one is the most important? Well, in my opinion, they are all as equal in importance as each other and form a vital part of a three-pronged pyramid. These three “fronts” are where you should be fighting the battle so to speak and where the battle will be ultimately won and lost.
If you continually play above your bankroll then sooner or later a normal adverse run will wipe you out. This will happen irrespective of how good your technical game actually is. Also if your mental state is so weak that you are constantly tilting or running for cover to avoid losses then you simply will not make money. Likewise, if your technical game is so weak when compared to your opponents. In my view then the vast majority of poker players overestimate the importance of poker theory.
It is vital that you improve your theoretical game but you shouldn’t overestimate the importance of it and place it higher than the other two key factors of money management and a solid mental state of mind. Because your average opponents are much tougher these days then this means that you often have to grind out the profits. To do so means being mentally strong enough to ride more frequent losing runs and longer than usual break-even periods. It is a daily requirement of a poker player these days to sit through quite lengthy periods where nothing much happens.
This happens even more in games like full ring cash for example. So you should be fighting the battle on three fronts and not just one. The vast majority of poker articles, books and discussions focus on theory and theory only and that is a mistake. Clearly, the writers and authors are focusing on what is likely to make them the most money and at least 90% of the material written today focuses on the technical aspects of playing poker and not on money management or your mental state.
To focus on only one area when it comes to improving your poker game is a big and often fatal error. It stems from players not realizing just how important the other two areas really are. Money management goes far beyond simply having some correct theoretical number of buy-ins for your level. It runs into the very heart of your poker game on a hand to hand basis. Lower variance and money management are linked to your mental state of mind and with it your bottom line. All of these three factors are inexorably linked and should be treated with equal respect and importance. If you want to make it as a poker player then concentrate on the full picture and not just one-third of it like most do when all they ever study is a conventional theory.