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Jun 06, 2012

Academic Study looks at Skill and Emotions in Poker

By RTR Dennis

You don’t need to be a genius or look at academic studies to realize that experienced online poker players are normally more successful than beginners. Even so, it’s always nice to have research to reinforce these facts – especially when the research gives detailed analysis of the characteristics that comprise successful players. So let’s look at a recent poker study carried out by the Journal of Gambling Studies:

The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this academic research was to assess the differences in emotional characteristics and technical skills between experienced and beginner online poker players. In order to measure this the experienced and inexperienced grinders were put through a series of Hold 'em poker scenarios.

Tools used in the Study
While the players were making decisions in Hold' em poker games, researchers used a couple of different tools to obtain their results. The first was the self-rumination scale, which measures how deeply players reflect on negative situations such as bad beats and losing sessions - some players can’t let bad beats go, meaning they ruminate more and obsess over negative outcomes.

Another tool used was the self-reflection scale, which measures how likely a poker player is to analyze their thoughts and feelings after a session. One more mechanism that the Journal of Gambling Studies implemented was each individual player’s thoughts on how they could control luck/variance.

Results of the Study
Following the academic study, it was concluded that experienced players make smarter moves in terms of mathematics. Because of this, they’re also less likely to engage in self-rumination when a bad beat or terrible session happens. Rather than being miserable or angry at the perceived bit 'bad luck', experienced players will engage in self-reflection – i.e. looking at hand histories and/or reviewing sessions afterward.

When it comes to controlling “luck,” experienced players believe that successful play over the long-run will counteract any luck involved with poker. In other words, they think of short-term variations in results as variance – not luck. Inexperienced players, on the other hand, tend to think that luck plays a much larger role in their overall results.

Final Thoughts
The research done by the Journal of Gambling Studies covered some pretty basic logic. Knowledgeable players realize that their chances of earning long-term profits improve when they understand the math behind poker. Furthermore, they’re willing to put work in after sessions to improve their play. All in all, it was pretty interesting to see an academic journal’s take on the subject of poker experience.

One thing not included in the study is how rakeback affects long-term profits; online poker players - whether they're experienced or total beginners - with a rakeback deal are going to earn far more money on average than those without one. Win or lose, players with rakeback deal in place will always get poker cash whenever they play.