The role of emotions mediating decision-making among successful poker players
This study was designed to explore the role of emotions mediating the decision-making process in poker. The research questions included: (1) What emotions are reported by poker players? (2) What are the poker-related predictors of the reported emotions? (3) How do the reported emotions influence decision-making? A qualitative approach was chosen for the eight intermediate poker players in the study. Data analyzed according to content analysis derived from semi-structured retrospective interviews and a think aloud protocol offered evidence that emotions impacted the decision-making process of intermediate poker players. Six distinct emotions were found to influence the decision-making process in poker: Pride, excitement, happiness, anxiety, frustration, and anger. Findings confirmed prior research of the role of frustration and anger in influencing suboptimal decision-making. Three main findings deviated from previous research: Positive emotions of pride and excitement were found to impact suboptimal decision-making, the negative emotion of anxiety was found to impact optimal decision-making, and the role of experience facilitated a healthier interpretation of, and reaction to, multiple emotions. The findings in this study provide practical and academic applications for researchers, poker players, and poker consultants. A number of different directions for future research are suggested, including more observation of naturalistic poker play, using real money for naturalistic poker play, and comparing the emotional experience of different stratum of experts and intermediates. Poker players could improve profit margins through using more active, facilitative forms of coping for strong emotional reactions, while poker consultants could help clients in proactively entering emotional zones that facilitate optimal decision-making.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University