Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires a lot of skill and psychology. The players place money into the pot voluntarily because they believe it has positive expected value or want to bluff other players for various strategic reasons. Studies have shown that expert poker players are more in control of their emotions and use mental training techniques, similar to those used by athletes, to improve their performance.

One of the biggest challenges in poker is dealing with the inevitable break-even or losing stretches. While these stretches are natural, they can cause a great deal of stress and may lead to health problems. By learning to cope with these stretches and by preparing ahead of time for them, poker players can greatly reduce the effects on their emotional and physical well-being.

During long losing sessions, it is important to remember that poker is only a game and that it will eventually turn around. When it does, it is important to have patience and focus on the things that are within your control, such as making the right decisions at the tables. Practicing patience at the poker table will help you become more patient in other areas of your life as well.