The crucial art of confidence

The year has gotten off to a good start for me as far as poker goes. I'd been in a little bit of a cold streak for the second half of 2012, but I've started out the new year pretty well.

The year began with me traveling -- to the PCA, then to UKIPT Edinburgh -- but while I was at those places I was winning a lot online. It's kind of funny to think about traveling to other places and then while there focusing mainly on online cash games and tournaments, but in truth playing online and playing live go hand-in-hand.

I started the year winning a small online tourney, then managed to finish fourth in one of the TCOOPs for a nice cash (the $109 NLHE Heads-Up). So while I didn't do too much at the PCA or Edinburgh, January ended up being a great month for me.

Then in February EPT Deauville came around where I did manage to make a decent run in the Main Event, finishing 75th and cashing. That was a little disappointing, since I got far enough to start asking myself "What am I going to do with €770,000?" But by the time I started fantasizing, it was pretty much over.

After that I took third in a side event, the €1,000 NLHE short-handed one. In a way I was slightly disappointed again, as I felt like I might have had a skill edge against my last two opponents. But you have to get lucky, too, and I was still glad with the finish. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine won the heads-up event, so it was a nice trip overall.

Having that good first month of 2013 online was definitely a confidence boost for me, and that certainly didn't hurt me when I went back to the live tourneys at Deauville in February. Especially after having that not-so-good stretch during the last six months or so of 2012, it was good to have some online success and thus having a little more self-assurance at the live tables.

And then this happened.

matthias-de-meulder_champ_pic.jpg

That is me after winning £22,580 at a side event at EPT London a couple of weeks ago.

Confidence is crucial when playing live. Say you make a big bluff in a hand. If you are in that zone where you've been doing very well online and you feel certain that you are making a correct play, when you make that bluff you're going to sit there and be relaxed and calm. But let's say you're in a downswing, when you make that move you might actually start second-guessing yourself while your opponent is thinking about what to do. And that can lead to giving away information and thus hurt your chances of the bluff succeeding.

Playing and winning online can definitely help your confidence when it comes to live poker. And vice-versa, which is why after having some live success I'm looking forward again to getting back to the virtual felt.

Matthias de Meulder is a member of Team PokerStars Pro