Feel the emotion

by PokerAnon ~ August 1st, 2011. Filed under: Philosophy and approach, Poker psychology.

I’m not an emotional person. I rarely get upset, angry, or get hyper happy or sad either.

Yet poker emotion, very slight shifts in tension, can easily be magnified. A slight annoyance from being re-raised preflop can lead me to later shove over top of a raise from an entirely different player. A touch of overconfidence from a good run or from watching some coaching videos can lead me to try some very marginal or low success rate plays. Unreasonably low expectation from running poorly can cause me to fold to any aggression from opponents and to shift toward the loose/passive waiting-for-the-nuts style of the under-confident player.

Each decision point in each individual poker hand is a cusp. Players who don’t have the emotional bankroll for their game play scared because they’re afraid of losing. They’re aware how much they have at risk and are afraid of losing it. At any moment they could blow up and lose it all. And at each cusp in the poker hand just a little poker emotion; the annoyance, overconfidence, low expectation, could be the slippery slope that I step on that lets me spin out of control. It’s like a thin layer of black ice on the sidewalk. It doesn’t take much emotion to swing my decision making and take me out of contention.

Because of all those dangerous little cusps, poker heightens and exaggerates the underlying emotional states. Like black ice, if you know that it’s there you can take precautions, but if you don’t see it, aren’t aware that of it’s existence, then you’re doomed to trap yourself. And often even when you are aware and take all the precautions that are in your arsenal you can still fail to negotiate the dangers successfully. Such is the nature of the being human.

And the more that you study the game and try to improve your knowledge and abilities, the more you lead yourself to become emotionally bought in to the results. A high school student who only runs track in PE class cares far less how they perform than another student who has been a member of the track team for years. A poker player who plays once a month and doesn’t think about poker in between cares far less than one who plays 3 times a week and belongs to an online poker forum. That caring, that buying in, that emotional attachment is a form of black ice as well.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Response to Feel the emotion

  1. katana

    Oh yes! How insightful. 😀 Thank you!!

Leave a Reply