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Happy or sad: how can your mood affect your poker play?

Playing poker online can be rather exciting, as it can evoke some unexpected reactions from the new and seasoned players alike. Some players lose their composure when they face a challenging game, while others discover they thrive under pressure.

The way you react at any given moment can be attributed to your level of experience and poker knowledge. But it can also be affected by your emotions and various external factors that influence them.

How can your emotional state affect your ability to play online poker? And what can you do about it? Now is your chance to find out more about this un-talked-about subject.

All You Need to Know About Emotions and Poker

A lot more thought goes into the decision-making process than you think. Every time you need to make a complex choice, your brain needs to process dozens of facts and choose the right way to act within a few seconds.

But dry facts are not the only things the brain has to take into account, as your mood and feelings can affect your thought process in a major way. For example, if you have a chance to choose between going out or staying in, working out, or binge-watching TV shows – what will you prefer to do if you're happy? And what about a situation in which you're feeling down?

According to studies, your emotions affect your decisions in many unpredictable ways. For starters, happiness allows for faster decision-making. On the other hand, sadness can distort your perception of the situation, hindering your ability to process information.

Poker players, specifically, are known to be affected by their emotions. In the past, researchers found that poker pros often feel pressured to maintain their reputation as skilled players, which leads to a lot of stress. Those feelings can negatively affect their ability to decide whether to raise, call, or fold.

In addition to that, another study found that feeling angry while gambling made players make worse mathematically accurate decisions. But interestingly enough, players were more inclined to make the wrong decisions when a pair of eyes followed the players' mouse cursor. That led experts to conclude that feeling obliged to meet social expectations, combined with negative emotions, can influence your ability to play poker.

Interestingly enough, skilled players were more inclined to make the right decision no matter what. That shows that experience can help poker pros learn how to control their emotions, therefore, avoiding any negative outcomes that anger, sadness, or anxiety might induce.

How to Control Your Emotions When Playing Poker

If you know what it feels like to get frustrated and angry while playing online poker, and you know it can affect your ability to master the game, you need to learn to control your emotions.

Here are a few tips that might help you out:

  • Manage your expectations – Statistically speaking, you can't always win at poker. But if you can't accept the fact that you might lose sometimes, and you enter a poker session with unrealistic expectations – you are bound to get frustrated and mad.

  • Be honest with yourself – Sometimes, avoiding the problem only magnifies its effects. If you're already feeling exasperated with yourself during a poker session, acknowledge your feelings. It's ok not to be at the top of your game 24/7 – as long as you don't let it affect you in the long run.

  • Take a break – Can't stop thinking negative thoughts? Do you find yourself tilting? Take a break from the game till you manage to regain your composure. Do something fun and relaxing till you can get back to the game with a clear mind and no emotional baggage.

In Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, negative feelings can reduce your ability to make the right call when placing bets online. So, if you want to have a better chance to win at poker – do everything you can to control your emotions.