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Psychology of Poker

Playing poker requires you to make some big decisions using subjective information. Psychology can have a huge influence on your ability to do well in the game.

‘On Tilt’ is a common term when talking about poker psychology. It is used to describe a state of mental confusions or frustration which occurs when players have not won in a long time or have lost a vital hand. Players ‘on tilt’ often become very aggressive in their next few hands in an attempt to win their money back instantly, often making decisions that are not clear nor calculated. Every poker player will find themselves ‘on tilt’ at some point. Yes, poker is a game of skill, though there is an element of luck involved which can beat you regardless of how well you play.

When playing poker, it is not recommended that you play whilst you’re tiered or hungry. Make sure you have slept well prior to playing and that you have eaten well also. Energy, alertness, and focus can aid a poker player immensely. It’s also a good idea to be sober whilst playing poker; alcohol can lead you into a false sense of security. Whilst you may be more relaxed after a couple of drinks, it may make your game less sharp, even if one's not 'drunk'.

When playing poker, it is always important for you to relax and even take some time out from the table. Often, after a big hand, it is easy for you to react emotionally.  A few deep breaths can help reduce your heart rate and adrenaline level too.

Self-Talk is a skill taught by psychologists that helps emotional control in various situations. It is a method where you make a positive argument for your negative thoughts and situation. Trigger words can often help whilst playing poker to remind you that being frustrated and being ‘On tilt’ may jeopardise your game.

It’s a good idea for poker players to be statistical about their game. Using an odds calculator whilst playing is a great idea and could help you determine whether your decision to play was a good one or not. If it was a good one, you can take note that you were unlucky and give yourself some reassurance that you are playing well. Also take a note of bad calls, this will allow you to learn from your mistakes and improve your game.

For more information about poker strategy, is a great source to help develop your poker skills.

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