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Why Emotions are a Poker Player’s Worst Enemy?

When you are playing poker, there is one thing that you should keep in check at all times and constantly remember: Do not get emotional. Unfortunately that is a lot easier said than done and all too often even experienced players end up getting emotional to their detriment.

“What Happens?”

If you do let your emotions get the better of you then you will start to make decisions that are emotional rather than rational. Under normal circumstances when you have a cool and calm head you may be able to properly calculate the odds, weigh the risk vs. the reward, read your opponents, and make the right call.

When you get emotional however, most of that will go out the window. Often you will convince yourself that you are ‘winning’ and make a rash call or raise as a result. At times you may even know that you are behind but convince yourself that you will be able to scare your opponent into folding – despite there being no evidence that they are unsure of their hand.

In short, you could end up risking a lot of money and losing it all – just because you were ‘on tilt’ (as it is referred to in poker vernacular) and emotional. That is why emotions are any poker player’s worst enemy when they are in the game.

How to Keep Your Emotions in Check

The first step to learning how to keep your emotions in check is to start to understand the situations where your emotions start to flare up. Normally this can happen when you are behind by a lot, or when you’ve recently lost a hand that you should’ve won, or when you have had a string of bad luck.

At the same time you may also have the opposite sort of emotions when things are going well, and could get overconfident – which is just as bad. When players are overconfident and feel they are ahead they tend to make poor decisions as well because they miss crucial information or feel that they are ‘invincible’ and end up calling bets with hands that they really should have folded. 

In any case, once you’ve identified the situations where you normally do tend to get emotional – you need to start to consciously be aware of them and reign yourself in when they happen. For example if you’ve just lost a hand that you should’ve won you should immediately be aware that you are at risk of making emotional decisions – and be extra careful as a result. 

It will take time for you to be able to fully control the situations where you get emotional, and a lot of that will only come by constantly being aware of it when it happens. At the end of the day however the benefits of training yourself to keep your emotions in check when playing poker make it more than worthwhile and it could be quite literally the difference between winning and losing.

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