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Does The Music You Play Change Your Poker Methods?

Does the music you listen to affect your poker playing methods? There are plenty of different types of music you could choose to listen to when playing.

Listening to music has a range of benefits on health and wellbeing. Studies have consistently shown that listening to your favourite songs can improve mood, memory, and motivation; whilst music is often used as a form of therapy in clinical settings. But can the music you play change the method in which you play poker?

Music and the ability to concentrate

There are numerous studies and articles suggesting that music has a positive effect on the human mind and its ability to concentrate. It has been shown to increase mental alertness, boost concentration, and reduce stress – all of which are essential traits when playing poker. Poker sessions can be long, exhausting, and stressful. Surely then, if the music you listen to helps calm your nerves or keep you alert, then it’s bound to influence how you play?

The poker professionals

Many professional poker players enjoy listening to music while at the table, which suggests that hearing their favourite sounds has a positive effect on their playing methods.

Multiple WSOP bracelet winner, Phil Hellmuth, for instance, is well-known for wearing headphones and tapping his foot along to whatever rock or indie tune he’s listening to. The record-breaking player loves to listen to the likes of Led Zeppelin and REM. Billy ‘b8chatz’ Chattaway, whose poker wins have made him millions, has said that having music on helps him to concentrate. Meanwhile, Canada’s poker sensation, Daniel Negreanu, finds that ambient sounds help him to get into the zone while he’s playing. The star, who’s a pro player on GGpoker Canada, listens to calming sounds such as waterfalls and whale calls, when he’s at the table.

Although both Hellmuth and Negreanu listen to entirely different genres and tempos of music, the pros are both quite similar in terms of their playing style. Both professionals are aggressive players, suggesting that the type of music someone listens to might not change their poker methods.

No music?

It can be argued that listening to music during a highly-skilled mental activity, such as poker, can be distracting. According to research, students performing a cognitive task experience poorer concentration when the music they’re listening to is more ‘high intensity’, such as fast-tempo hip hop. High tempo music was found to have a detrimental effect on attention and concentration. Therefore, surely when playing poker, which requires a lot of focus, music of a higher tempo would be distracting for a player? You only need to look at rock-loving Phil Hellmuth and his awe-inspiring world success in the game to realise that it’s not that simple.

American pro, Jeff Gross, has claimed that he doesn’t listen to music during live events because he prefers to interact with his opponents and finds that he’s better focussed without it. Likewise, WSOP bracelet winner, Ronnie Bardah, also avoids the earphones because he thinks it makes it harder to get reads and engage in table talk.

It’s therefore not entirely clear whether or not listening to music has any effect on poker play. It seems that it’s purely down to the individual whether or not music influences your game methods or not.


When playing poker, you might find that total silence helps you to focus, or you might benefit from the uplifting motivation that listening to your favourite songs gives you. Either way, the effect is entirely down to you as an individual.

Many professional poker players claim that the music they listen to helps them to concentrate; whilst other top players find that it distracts them and hinders their ability to interact at the table. What is certain, however, is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the music you listen to and your poker playing methods.