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Old 05-12-2017, 03:19 AM   #1
haha_TP
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Severe anxiety when playing

I guess the only way that it's going to change when playing poker is to reduce anxiety and stress off the table, which is pretty difficult for me to say the least. I guess there are no easy fixes or shortcuts for this problem? I'm also pretty terrible at making decisions under stress. I'd hate to quit poker as its the only thing I've been above average in my life, but I also don't want to be this weak tight player who lets their emotions control their decisions.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:07 PM   #2
The Imp
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Re: Severe anxiety when playing

Quote:
Originally Posted by haha_TP View Post
I guess the only way that it's going to change when playing poker is to reduce anxiety and stress off the table, which is pretty difficult for me to say the least. I guess there are no easy fixes or shortcuts for this problem? I'm also pretty terrible at making decisions under stress. I'd hate to quit poker as its the only thing I've been above average in my life, but I also don't want to be this weak tight player who lets their emotions control their decisions.
If you deal with anxiety issues in your everyday life it's almost guaranteed to show up when playing poker! There's no easy fix but there's lots of stuff that helps, all the generic advice actually helps if you commit to it - eat well, exercise etc.

Poker throws a lot of negative mindset stuff at you through variance. Try to focus on positive aspects, things you can control. If you're always trying to improve, always thinking about how you can do better (and recognising when you do things well) - it can help balance out all the negativity.

A lot of people have success learning meditation/mindfulness. Sounds like hippy nonsense at first but it does work - there's a popular app called Headspace that's very good (there's a subscription fee but the first 10 days are free).
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Old 05-18-2017, 01:59 PM   #3
Tuma
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Re: Severe anxiety when playing

try playing shorter sessions and setting anxiety goals. track your progress and see if it's an animal you can control.

talking to yourself and rhythmic breathing exercises are accepted practices for reducing acute onsets of anxiety. closing your eyes and taking breaks, and getting fresh air are worthwhile too. maybe wearing ear plugs or listening to ambient music could help as well.

don't beat yourself up too much if it's not going well. poker is an extremely tough game, and high level play isn't for everyone.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:50 AM   #4
rainmaker1855
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Re: Severe anxiety when playing

all good advice from other posters.

do you typically have anxiety when doing other activities as well, or is it just amplified around poker? If outside of the table then focus on that and let poker be your bubble of sorts away from that stuff (one of the real reasons why I play so much, it's a great way to just focus on strategy and let the rest of the world go silent for a few hours); if anxiety is sourced from the table then factor in what is driving it - concerns about losing money? maybe looking foolish with your play?

Either way, breathing helps and find little times to get up from the table and walk around to use some of that pent up energy. dont drink alcohol or a lot of caffeine (or tobacco) while playing either.

BOL OP
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Old 05-19-2017, 04:03 PM   #5
leavesofliberty
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Re: Severe anxiety when playing

It really helps that as you process your anxiety that you process the mechanics of each street of poker that you play. This is the best way I have found to "combat tilt". If the math does not match the play that you made, then you can start to chalk it up to "tilt", "inexperience", and other reasons, but first and foremost the math is what is important, and actually thinking about the math will stop you from allowing the anxiety and other problems getting to you. An MP3 player to foster ambience along with some ice water and a sandwich can certainly help, but it is no substitute for a solid foundation for poker practice. The more you are prepared, the less anxiety you will experience.

The best way to be prepared is, imho, to buy David Skalansky's Fundamental Theorem of Poker, and a current poker book related to the game you intend to play, and perhaps a book on tells by Zachary Elwood.

I do believe in no limit Texas Hold'em it is OKAY to have one drink, and only one drink, so you have the "courage" to bluff at the proper frequency in situations, because it can be unnerving to put it all-in wo anything. But, it is far better to have the solid foundation rather than having a drink. You also can easily find yourself in a situation where you foster bad habits, so if you do drink, be disciplined in that.

Last edited by leavesofliberty; 05-19-2017 at 04:10 PM.
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