Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping Score

The hardest part about using the best practices of poker is finding consistency in their application. I know that early tournament play is about survival. I know when I need to start playing aggressive to build my chip stack. And I know how my starting hand odds become better short-handed. My problem is after a few hands of committing to the correct style of play, I start to shift back into the style which I’m most comfortable. Overcoming this requires willpower, a long attention span, and, in my case, headphones.

I’ve already written about some of my favorite poker tunes, but I’ve learned that music can be more than diversion at the card table. In film, musical cues help the audience to feel how the director wants them to feel. You might think you are shedding a tear for the visual performance of the starlet’s death scene, but the accompanying violins have a very clear and intended affect. This same affect can be applied to poker.

I have a series of playlists. The first inspires aggression and a sense of urgency, made up of scores from chase scenes and mounting suspense. Think of tracks from the new Tron soundtrack or anything from the Bourne Trilogy, Batman Begins & Mission: Impossible.

The next playlist backs off the energy. I use this when I want to go back to the status quo, which for me is fairly tight play. Any “character building” movie music should work here. Anything you like, my playlist is mostly light John Williams.

Another playlist consists of entirely slow and happy music. I have a few Pixar scores here. I use this to take the edge off when I’m coming off a bad beat dangerously close to going on tilt.

Music can both sooth and waken the savage beast within, the trick is just finding what is right for you. If movie music isn’t your thing, so be it. Personally, I just find the connection to theatrical moments make the desired affect more prominent, not to mention the fact that lyrics distract me.


  1. Cheers for this interesting piece of reading, keep up the good work!

  2. interesting idea having themed playlists. Honestly I can barely keep it together without music. So I go without. Sometimes I'll wear headphones but rarely have the music playing

  3. Do you let the playlists run for a set amount of time. or do you just sort of employ your own discretion in terms of choosing when to stop one and start another?

    Interesting concept, I've always just tried one soundtrack when playing, usually just a record on repeat, and hadn't thought about really cuing moods and feelings with various ones.