Reasons Why Poker Players Have the Highest Emotional Intelligence

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A person changin two wooden blocks from spelling IQ to EQ
BetMGM Oct 28, 2023, 9:46 AM

Of all the many online casino games, poker is the one that can positively impact your life the most. Good poker players often possess a very high level of emotional intelligence, which also benefits their day-to-day lives.

In this article, you’ll learn the reasons for that, as well as how you can boost your own emotional intelligence. In addition to improving your poker game, this could help you become a better person. But first, it’s important to examine exactly what emotional intelligence means.

What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does It Matter?

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to control, evaluate, interpret, and use emotions efficiently and constructively. It encapsulates both controlling and expressing your own emotions, as well as understanding and responding to those of others.

There are many different signs of high emotional intelligence. For example, self-confidence, awareness of personal strengths and limits, letting go of mistakes, or managing emotions during difficult situations.

Some experts suggest that emotional intelligence is even more important than the traditional intelligence quotient (IQ). That probably isn’t too surprising. It’s easy to imagine a frustrated college professor who can’t keep their emotions in check and is unhappy with their lot. On the other hand, a builder or plumber with a high EQ and the right mental approach could effortlessly live a happy life.

Thankfully, improving emotional intelligence is possible, and it’s definitely something you can work on. This can be achieved in numerous ways, but one of the most fun might be to play in-person or online poker.

Controlling and recognizing emotions is a key part of playing poker successfully. That’s why practically all professional players possess a high EQ. In the rest of this article, you’ll learn why that is so.

Thinking Under Pressure

Most people make better decisions if they are able to take some time to think and aren’t stressed. On the other hand, you’re more likely to make worse decisions under a time constraint, especially if you must make a very impactful choice with potentially serious consequences.

However, your decision-making process is also impacted by EQ. Those with higher levels of emotional intelligence are able to perform better under pressure. Although this process can be improved, it’s hard to replicate stressful conditions in practice. There simply aren’t that many key decisions to make on a day-to-day basis for a lot of people.

One of the easiest ways to practice, therefore, is to play poker online. Firstly, there’s always a time limit to your decisions. But also, there’s usually real money on the line. Your decisions aren’t without consequences, which brings pressure, helping you to strengthen your EQ.

Recognizing Logical Fallacies

Human brains are wired in such a way that people can make important decisions quickly. However, the goal is really to help human beings survive in the wilderness, not to make optimal decisions in the modern world.

That’s why we’ve developed a whole set of logical fallacies. These are thought processes that seem to make a lot of sense at first glance when you might need to make split-second, knee-jerk decisions. But once you think about them properly, their logic crumbles. 

A good poker player can recognize these since they don’t just happen in everyday scenarios but at the felt, too. Wondering how logical fallacies and emotional intelligence are connected? Here are two interesting ways to begin with.

Illusion of Control 

People tend to believe they can control more than they actually do. That’s known as the “illusion of control.” Recognizing your limitations is one of the signs of high EQ.

One of the benefits of playing poker is that you quickly realize just how limited your control over various outcomes is. For instance, you have no say in how the other player is betting. Nor can you decide what card will be revealed on the river. You can only try to do your best with the things that you can actively impact, like hand selection and bet sizing.

This can be applicable in everyday life, too. For example, you can’t completely control how another person will react to you. Sure, you can aim to present yourself in the best possible light. But they might still dislike you based on some completely arbitrary factor.

Outcome Bias

Many players tend to evaluate decisions based on the result rather than the thought process. That’s referred to as “outcome bias” or, more commonly, “results-oriented thinking.”

Imagine you’re playing an online poker tournament, and you’re all in as a 90% favorite. However, despite the odds, your opponent hits a miracle card, and you lose. Does that mean you shouldn’t have made the bet? Of course not. You were in an incredible spot, and you should always look to repeat such a play. It just wasn’t wasn’t your day.

If you don’t make exactly the same play next time, you’re being results-oriented. Betting emotionally in poker by letting your feelings get in the way of the math is never a good idea. With time and practice, you can improve at regulating your emotions. This will result in a higher EQ.

Controlling Emotions

Opinions are divided on whether poker is a sport or not. But the game certainly has one thing in common with the likes of football and basketball. High emotional intelligence poker players are the ones who consistently deliver good results, just like top professional athletes. 

What do Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, LeBron James, and Lionel Messi have in common? Besides mastery of their respective fields, they also stand out with an enormously high EQ. Without it, they may still have been quite good at what they do, but they wouldn’t have reached elite status.

When Ivey is on the receiving end of a bad beat, does he tilt and play worse because of it? If Messi misses a penalty, will he become frustrated and let it affect his performance for the rest of the game? In both cases, the answer is a resounding no.

In order to succeed, be it in poker, sports, or any other career, controlling your emotions is key. You’re bound to encounter unlucky streaks where nothing seems to go your way. However, with a high EQ, you’ll be able to bounce back much faster. Mastering the art of resilience in poker, or indeed life, can certainly help you with that. 

Time for an EQ Test

As you’ve seen, many aspects of poker psychology can be used to increase your emotional intelligence. So why not register at BetMGM to start working on your own EQ? Enjoy all major poker variants, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, in both tournament and cash game formats.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.