Music has become a part of our existence. In fact, everywhere you go, you will hear music blaring. In Korea, music is a big part of its culture and diversity. It has evolved from being a form of entertainment to a form of therapy. Are you feeling sad? Listen to a piece of uplifting music. Feeling happy? Celebrate with your favourite tune. Needing a little motivational boost? Pop in your headphones and listen to your playlist.
Some poker players listen to music to keep them in the zone. They claim that music is advantageous for them as it helps them concentrate and focus on their hand. Recent research shows that music has positive effects on creativity. Does it have the same effect on other performance tasks like poker?
Like some poker accessories, music is often included in a poker players’ must haves. Some of them cannot even play without their music. Why? This helps them keep composed and focused. Tournaments can be long and tedious – this can cause your mind to wander, lose patience and make a not so well-thought-of decision.
The Mozart Effect vs. Mood and Arousal Effect
Many people assume that listening to music whilst working or studying has a profound effect on increasing output. This belief probably is a result of the Mozart Effect or an increase in spatial performance level after listening to the music of Mozart. But several experts disputed this and instead proposed that the positive effect is most likely due to the current mood that a person is in at the time of listening to the music and the actual performance of a task. This concept has evolved to become the mood and arousal effect.
Mood and arousal effect can explain why some music can change a person’s behaviour and emotion. It is true that some music can evoke a certain memory. This can be helpful when it comes to poker. Some poker players claim that a piece of particular music can help them remember a hand in which they have won or made a mistake, enabling them to execute a better decision during a tournament.
Music Affects Memory Recall
Music has an unexplainable effect. Some people believe that listening to music whilst performing a task is actually detrimental. It causes people to multitask and therefore become less effective in achieving their desired goal.
A recent study showed that multitasking severely impacts the ability to recall several bits of information. Listening whilst doing tasks had a little negative effect on recall. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that songs can distract individuals but not as much as loud conversations or annoying noise. So, poker players would really benefit from listening to music whilst playing in a tournament. Instead of trying to mute all the varying noise in a card room, listening to music would allow them to concentrate more on what is important.
Experts believe that the type of music spells a big difference on whether you can keep focused on your hand. Some loud music can be a distraction, especially when you miss out what the dealer or your opponent says.
Some counter-arguments claim that listening to music whilst at the table can only cause them to slow down. As they remain focused on the music, some important things on the table are often overlooked. Such as the value of a raise or bet. One can even miss out the number of players still in the game and this can generally affect one’s decision when calling or raising a bet. Listening to music can also cause you to miss out entirely on the opponent’s tells if any.
Classical Conditioning for Positive Outcome on the Table
Pairing a particular concept with a stimulus can be further explained with classical conditioning. This psychological concept simply means that a certain stimulus, in this case, music, can trigger a physical or mental response. Some professional poker players unconsciously use the concept of classical conditioning when they compete in tournaments. John D’Agostino, Phil Gordon, Annie Duke, and Robert Williamson are known to play particular music genres during varying levels in a tournament depending on their situation. For example, some of them would listen to mellow music when they feel like they are stuck. When they are hot and in a roll, they would play something more upbeat. Annie Duke has confessed to listening to White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army,” when she is losing and feeling a little gamble.
Asian professional poker player Celina Lim, also known as China’s Poker Queen, admits to listening to Drake’s Started from the Bottom. Similarly, Phil Ivey, who boasts of 10 World Series of Poker bracelets and a whopping $26 million in live cash earnings, is widely known for wearing his trusty headphones whilst on the table. Does it contribute to making him one of the best all-around poker players of all time? We bet it does help one way or another.
The choice of music really depends on the person. Some use music that they can connect to a deeper psychological level. This is very important when you are playing poker. See, poker is all about having the proper mental condition. Being in a crazy mood can cause you to make bad decisions on the table. Staying positive and calm on the table can spell a big difference. It is in fact, one of the poker skills that one has to master. Listening to music can help both aspiring and professional poker players to stay in the right mental space.
Having the proper mindset in a particularly compromising position can spell the difference. It can actually make or break your run. Running a bad hand can sometimes take longer times because of the players losing their confidence, which can cause you to read the cards wrongly. Playing the right kind of music can get you out of this rut. Music can up your confidence and eventually your mood whilst playing. Music lets players create an environment where they can remember themselves performing well and eventually amping up their confidence level.
Psychological experiments have actually caused some pro players to perform well. Some players who were able to choose the right music eventually found their confidence level improving. Music has long been an important feature in our everyday existence – it can help players focus, come out of a rut, tighten up or loosen up. Music can condition your mind to stay calm and positive even in situations that are quite negative for you.
Poker Music Genre – Does It Matter?
The music genre largely depends on what your preferences are. If you do not feel like listening to rap music, we bet it would not help your cause in any way. If you are big on pop music, then go for it. It is all about attaching that positive sentiment to a piece of music. If you cannot particularly feel connected to a certain music genre, it is highly unlikely that it will evoke any positive effect on your playing style or decision making at the felt.
Some professional pokers such as Daniel Negreanu listen to calming massage music such as chirping birds or ocean waves. It does not have to be a musical score to be exact. Ultimately, what’s important is that you can associate a positive thought and experiences to it.