The Stimulation from Winning in Poker

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In this episode of the Losing Stress Podcast, we investigate how our minds automatically deal with winning in poker and the potential issues that arise from this. An incredibly beneficial listen for all poker players!

[00:00] Hey guys! It’s Chiggs! I’m back in the office on a Saturday today in lovely sunny London; here to record another Losing Stress Podcast. This time to talk about the stimulation of winning and losing when playing poker.

Poker is a unique environment

[00:14] Now quite clearly poker as an environment to make money in, so a working environment, is quite different from a traditional career or job where you get a fixed income.

[00:26] And if we were to look at the winning and losing in poker with a very clear perception within ourselves then we would see the fact that winning and losing has a real impact on our lives psychologically.

Which is really our whole overall outlook on life.  Because the way we actually perceive things when we are winning or losing is very different.

[00:53] And you can see this within yourself.

You can see this when you have a conversation with another poker player when they are winning after a losing patch they’ll go ahead and they’ll act a lot more confident. They’ll feel like they’ve turned it around. They’ve now got a good grip of things.  

Your Outlook on Life Changes with Poker Results

And to be perfectly honest, all of us, poker players, do go through this.

There’s a different tint or a different filter to how we see our lives or even just our poker lives based off whether we’re winning or losing.

[01:26] So the question that does arise is: Why does this happen?

What’s the whole root for this changing perception that we have based off winning and losing.

Rather than simply just accepting this is the case let’s see if we can look into this with a clear and honest investigation.

Poker and Our Minds

[01:44] So let’s see if we can start from the very point of what is actually happening with our minds.

Say at the point when we have a good winning session. So suppose we’re at the point where we are either winning or we’ve just booked a very nice win in a session; what actually happens?

What do we tend to do?

What’s going on inside the mind exactly?

[02:11] What happens, as a result, is that we tend to view the world with a bit more confidence. We tend to act differently.  We tend to feel better.

But that’s just the surface of it. What’s really happening if we go into it a little bit deeper.

[02:28] What’s really happening is that our minds now start to feel more secure. Because they have this recorded short term memory of the fact that we’ve been doing well/we’ve just done well.

And this essentially builds up this confidence.

And from there we act differently. We view the world differently.

[02:52] And before we go on, let’s just make the point that we’re looking at this (we’re investigating this), not from a critical perspective. But simply looking at what is actually going on with our minds when we do win.

And hopefully, you can gather and understand that this is actually what is happening with each of our minds when we do win.

There is obviously this effect that happens within the mind.

Self-Awareness within Poker

[03:18] The thing is with real self-awareness you can actually be aware of this when this happens within the moment.

You can start to feel how you start to feel better about yourself. And not necessarily let yourself get ahead of yourself.

[03:33] Because what happens automatically when you do win (what does tend to happen) with our behaviours is that we then, perhaps:

  • start to then look at our graphs to see how we’re doing
  • text our friends or;
  • post a good winning session on Instagram or;
  • even just daydream about the possibilities this winning session now gives us and provides us.

And as I’m saying this, I realise, that it may not be very clear and obvious why or how this leads to issues further down the line.

And so let’s see if we can actually find out.

What occurs in the mind when we win in poker?

[04:08] Just taking a step back: so we have this winning experience. And from that our minds react in thoughts, emotions and behaviours in the ways that we’ve described already to the stimulus of this win/this series of wins.

And what happens is these additional thoughts, in particular, that surround this win that we’ve just had, say, in terms of daydreaming or feeling very confident about ourselves or whatever; whatever these thoughts are in relation to this win happens to build up this memory within our minds of this win as being a pleasurable experience.

[04:55] And what the vast majority of us (practically everyone) isn’t really aware of is the danger of building up these pleasurable experiences within our minds.

The danger being the fact that our minds now chase these pleasurable experiences.  

[05:13] Now you may think that this doesn’t apply to you but it is an obvious fact that our minds are automatically wired to pursue pleasure over pain.

And so when you form this memory, which is based off this pleasure from this experience of winning in poker, say, winning a poker tournament then what happens is that the next time you go into play or next time you go into play a poker tournament and then you don’t win your mind then automatically compares this situation to this other situation where you won a tournament.

And so it doesn’t quite match up to that. So there’s this unhappiness that follows from that.

[06:00] And to be honest even getting aside from this example, the real issue is the fact that unconsciously we start to chase wins. And by chasing here I don’t necessarily mean in behaviours per se or with obvious conscious behaviours but in fact psychologically.

Chasing Wins

If I have this memory of the fact that I did really well in this game before then my mind automatically wants to experience that again.

And so it pursues it. It chases it in some way.

[06:36] or perhaps, a better way of putting this, is that,

“I expect this experience to repeat itself again.”

[06:45] And as we’ve gone into this, hopefully, you can clearly see that the recording of this pleasurable experience means that there’s this mismatch between me meeting reality.

In fact, poker results and reality is something that is outside of my control.

[07:04] What’s happening is that I’m arriving into playing poker with a mind that is expecting something. Or is wanting something based on what has happened previously.

Is there anything to be done?

[07:18] And so now that we have actually looked into this:

What is it that I can actually do about this?

[07:25] To really go into this quite obviously means just going back to what we talked about. And that is:

What is the real root of the issue here?

The real of the issue here is that from the moment when I actually win I then start to have these thoughts surrounding this win.

And it’s these thoughts that surround this win that creates this memory and this feeling of pleasure. And so can I be attentive to this whole process happening internally in the moment it happens and end it.

And if it continually happens and I continually notice myself thinking about this win, can I notice it and just end it?

And the thing is, this might require me to become aware of this 100 times. In that our minds can keep automatically be pulled back to into this habit of daydreaming and what might seem like enjoying this win.

[08:25] And this really is an important point to get into. Because what we’re talking about here is ending the pleasure that results from winning in poker. So does that mean that we’re now ending the enjoyment that we get at all from playing poker?

[08:41] But really, if you’ve started to take this moment-by-moment awareness, that we’ve talked about on The Losing Stress Podcast, whilst you play seriously you realise this isn’t the case whatsoever.

[08:54] Because typically the way our minds work automatically is that we’re on this rollercoaster when we go to play poker.

So we are taking pleasure from the wins in whatever way that we do. And we are dealing with this pain when we lose.

And what we’ve done on this podcast is take a step back from this rollercoaster and get a feel for its tracks. What’s really going on essentially with the tracks of our mind?

And the mechanism that is really going on within all of our minds when we do play.  

The Direct Experience of Awareness

[09:30] And so we’ve explored this intellectually and verbally. And perhaps you’ve looked at this by looking back at your own experiences and noting this really is the case.

However, for this to really provide you the benefits and for you to really notice the benefits there has to be this experiencing of this awareness in the moment.

Because when you do get an experience of this you realise that there is an enjoyment just from playing poker for itself.

There is this happiness simply just for living essentially.

[10:12] And if this sounds very ‘woo woo’ and mystical and flowery then I can really tell you that it is not.

But it all comes down to the experiencing of it and the seeing of it for yourself. Because when you’re so plugged into the poker environment and your own wins and losses you’re unable to see it. You’re unable to experience it because you’re so caught up within your own mind and your own thoughts.

Our Conditioned Minds

[10:37] The incredibly unfortunate thing about this is that we’ve been programmed this way essentially from childhood.

But rather than get into this quite deep-rooted thing, which I might do on a later podcast, I just think it is incredibly important and valuable to point out the mechanical and automatic nature of our minds.

And also the great power and clarity of perception that awareness and full attention provides.

[11:12] And so I feel like that’s a good point now to start to wind down this podcast.


This podcast is really about or is really for those people that are interested in getting out of this struggle of being a poker player.

And really that’s we’ve gone into in this podcast and what we’ve arrived at is essentially there is this potential to go ahead and enjoy playing poker simply just for playing poker.

To get out of this rollercoaster ride that everybody seems to be on from this automatically operating mind.

[11:48] I do hope if you’ve listened to this that you’ve followed this well. And it does provide you with for you and your own life.

So take care guys. I will be back to speak again soon.