Have you ever considered what it would be like to have warning lights in your poker game? Something that flashed red when you did something wrong or an automated voice perhaps that urged you to apply the brake and vacate the table as soon as possible.
Maybe we could all use some warning lights.
This occurred to me a few days ago, driving home with a succession of alarms pinging on my dashboard. The first was a picture of a fountain, which I took to mean the wiper fluid needed topping up. This was actually good news. Aside from knowing where to sit, refilling the wiper fluid reservoir is about the only thing I know how to do fix with my car. The second one though flashed up something on the dash in a shape I recognised as some kind of squashed fruit. Fruit can't be dangerous I thought, so I drove on.
You might notice you have a similar attitude at the poker table. In certain situations you find something isn't working right, or something goes wrong that costs you a pot, or elimination from a tournament or Sit & Go. But you put it down to a one off bit of bad fortune. So you ignore the warning signs (which ironically others can see flashing pretty clearly), and play on.
But there it was, the warning light, taunting me every time I turned on the ignition.
Reluctantly turning my back on instinct, I looked up the problem in the handbook. It turned out it was the tire pressure warning light. The handbook said that this can come about because of a puncture, or because of atmospheric changes due to cold weather. I thought about pumping up the tires, but shivering in the cold I figured I'd follow the warning light reset protocol instead.
Let's flip back to the poker table for a second.
It's easy to do this, when you're starting out as a poker player or when you've reached a stage where you've moved beyond beginner stage into something of keen amateur. You know something isn't working - you're busting from tournaments too soon, or you're reluctant to bet - but you play on regardless, assuming it's beyond your control. Well, it usually is in your control.
Over at PokerSchoolOnline there's a virtual garage full of solutions to the warning lights you may or may not see flashing in your poker game. Thousands of players have learnt from PSO, and helped others at the same time. If you want to get more enjoyment from the game, the key is to learn more about it. PSO is a great place to learn things you might not have considered before. No more squashed fruit. No more reset protocol.
Like all good advice stories this one needs a cautionary element.
The light disappeared for a few days, but it was soon back. My car hadn't been fooled by the reset protocol and had instead decided to teach me a lesson. Only then did I check the tires, one of which was entirely flat, with two nails, invisible only to the idiot, embedded deep into the wheel.
The tire man, who no doubt makes a fortune at the poker table spotting other people's warning lights, was happy to collect.
Luckily you don't have to be an idiot to improve your poker game. There's no shame in seeking help, and asking for advice. In the long run it will save you from costly mistakes and increase your enjoyment of the game, just like looking after your car tends to make expensive maintenance less likely. Put like that, why even wait for the warning light?
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley. What did you think about this post? Let us know on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.