Poker Psychology - Table Norms & Emotions

Breaking the Table Norms - Being a member of a group can enable us to accomplish feats that we cannot do alone; it can give us a sense of safety and mental well-being, and may supply us with the support we need in times of crisis. But group membership can also come at a heavy price, too. We may be prevented from making good decisions simply because we have formed a strong bond with other members of a group and don’t want to do anything that might hurt them. Equally, we may find ourselves being manipulated unconsciously by what other members of the group are doing, simply because we don’t want to incur their displeasure by acting differently.

As it is in life, so goes it at the poker table. If you want to be a winning player, you can’t afford to let yourself fall prey to group influences.

If you want to play your own winning game, you need to be able to throw off the binding shackles of the ‘table norm’; if you don’t, you won’t be able to make good, solid poker decisions and may miss out on some great opportunities.

Instead you’ll simply be conforming to what you think the rest of the table wants you to do, and you’ll be worried that if you don’t, they might start to pick on you.

Controlling Your Emotions - Apart from the table norms, being a successful poker player is also about being in control. Controlling your emotions is a vital part of the  poker game, to ensure you make good decisions and avoid going on a losing spree. But it’s not just ‘bad beats’ that can send you spiralling out of control; there are many little things that can increase your stress levels and turn your normally calm self into an angry one. And as you’ve probably already noticed, an aggravated poker player is normally a losing poker player. If you want to be a consistent winner, then it’s essential to keep your emotions under control.

Psychologists have long agreed upon the fact that we tend to make poorer decisions when we’re angry than when we are cool and acting logically.

Relaxation is very important. Make yourself take long, deep breaths. Then start to clench and unclench your hands and feet and you will soon feel the tension has gone away. These exercises will start to bring your physiology back under control. Then, to regain your psychological balance, imagine a place, person or object that makes you happy and fix this picture firmly in your mind along with all the good feelings that accompany it. Happiness is incompatible with anger and replacing one with the other will help to bring your emotions under control.

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