Neutralize Stress, Reduce Pressure

by , Aug 11, 2011 | 5:06 am

Jen Dunphy

Poker Life Coach

Making a distinction between pressure and stress is important at the poker table whether you are playing tournament or cash; so let’s get the details straight.

– Stress in any form generally happens or just exists like pollution, life changes or traffic.

– Pressure is imposed by yourself or others in the form of deadlines, personal standards and beliefs about the “right” way to do things.

Leaving room for reality that neither is always the case; we often think of stress as pressure and pressure as stress. Makes sense right? However, this isn’t always true.

Most players when faced with stress (small stack, the bubble, aggressive opponent) react with resistance. Resistance is hard work and can make you tired (another stress) which can make you want to give up on what’s important to you (a personal pressure) and so on and so on…

Whether a heart rate goes up or a body gets tense, we tend to resist stress. The irony is resisting magnifies the stress, which tends to have you put more pressure on yourself to be successful; creating a self feeding cycle that leads people to a state of pain – aka. Tilt!

To minimize any negative impact on your game, do a bit of self-searching to notice how you react to stress and where there is pressure in your life. Being aware of your reactions, beliefs and internal self-talk will help you keep stress and pressure in check.

Whether you notice it at the table or just going about your day, ask yourself: How do I react to stress, and where is there pressure in my life?

Your answers will give you the ability to identify when and where you are resisting stressors and creating pressure.

Another strategy is to practice being with the stress without reacting to it (like watching a movie instead of being in it). Pull yourself above the situation to witness it from the outside. See yourself as a character and make decisions as a director. This perspective will help you make a decision based on the facts with less stress, and thus pressure removed.

If you are anything like my clients (and myself of course), you may be putting undo pressure on yourself by responding to stress with negativity or resistance. Check it out, see what you notice and start making a conscious choice to relate to stress and pressure in a way that supports you and your game.

Certified Life Coach Jen Dunphy shares her mind-and-body insight for poker players semi-regularly on Pokerati. You can read her columns here, and follow her on Twitter here.

One Comment to “Neutralize Stress, Reduce Pressure”

  1. Andrei Ungureanu

    A very good article. I think that in poker tilt is very hard to neutralize, so every ifo helps, Thanks for sharing