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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Overcoming Bad Beats with Positive Thoughts

Good and bad feelings come from within you, not from external events. Your feelings are created by your thoughts about events, not by the events themselves.

An example in Zen and the Art of Happiness (Chris Prentiss, Power Press 2006),  illustrates the power of  thoughts to change negative emotions to positive ones.  Suppose there is a very large new house being built right next to your existing smaller home.  It blocks your view and the construction noise, dust and debris is an ongoing irritation. You become more and unhappy as the days go by and the new house rises to overshadow your house. 

As your patience wears thin, however, the contractor in charge of building the house tells you that a rich relative ordered the house built as a gift to you. 

The same house, the same dust and debris, and the same everyday noise, now evokes a much different emotional response after you receive this new information. What before seemed oppressive, is only a temporary inconvenience now that you know the new house is yours. Nothing has changed, however, but your state of mind. It the same house and the same construction noise, dust and debris. But your feelings towards it have changed simply because your thoughts about it have changed. 

In poker, the same bad beat has can have negative and positive consequences depending on how it is perceived.  If you suck out on a bad beat to win a huge pot, you probably feel relief and happiness. The loser of the pot, however, might feel really bad about it.   He might feel so bad it affects his judgment and decisions on future hands. The loser of the pot, however, has a choice on how to react to a bad beat.  He can change his feelings just by changing his thoughts.

Let us take two different bad beat reactions. In the first, the loser reacts emotionally, curses his bad luck, blames the dealer or the poker gods, and goes into an emotional  funk. These negative emotions perpetuate themselves by effecting the loser’s body chemistry in very specific and very negative ways.  See Candice B. Pert, The Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (New York: Touchstone, 1997).  

According to Dr Pert, a type of  “information molecule” called a peptide is produced in the hypothalamus in the brain. The type of peptide produced is determined by what you are thinking or feeling at any given moment and duplicates every emotion you experience, from fear, anger, and frustration, to joy and happiness.  Some peptides make you feel good, and others make you feel bad.  

In our first bad beat victim, the peptides produced by his negative emotions cascade throughout the player's loodstream, entering the cells of the body through receptor sites on each cell.  They are produced in the millions and make the player feel bad by blocking cell receptor sites which could otherwise  accommodate positive feeling peptides. This chemistry often has disastrous consequences at the poker table.     

Our second bad beat victim, however, has a totally different experience. He maintains a healthy internal body chemistry because he doesn’t respond to it with negative thoughts.      
He avoids becoming a victim of  negative body chemistry by looking at it as just a part of the game. If not for bad beats, all the unskilled players would go broke and go home.  Since he is a skilled player, he knows that most significant loses should come from bad beats simply because he is usually getting his chips into the pot with the best hand.  He knows that’s  exactly how he should lose, not by my making mistakes or losing control of his emotions.

So when you take a bad beat, don’t let it bother you. If you perceive the bad beat in positive or netural ways, you will stay calm, cool and collected, and won’t create and perpetuate negative feelings from millions of peptides spreading negative emotions throughout your body.

When you take a bad beat, know and feel that you have the skills to recover from it.  Know and feel that bad beats are part of the game. Remember that all good players experience and overcome bad beats all the time. Think positive thoughts, which create emotionally healthy body chemistry and allow you to maintain concentration and focus.   

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts
we make the world.”  Buddha.  

Copyright 2010 by Preston Oade,  All rights reserved.  

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