Decision Making in Poker: Evaluating Optimality After a Bad Beat

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Date of Award

Spring 2022


The following manuscript is a research study on decision making in poker. We investigated the effect of a bad beat (unexpected monetary loss) on future optimal risk-taking decisions (as determined by Kelly’s formula) of individuals participating in a computerized poker simulation task (CPST). Additional analysis included assessing for the effects of poker playing experience (as determined by scores on the Poker Experience Scale, PES) and baseline levels of emotional regulation as measured by Carver & White’s (1994) behavioral inhibition system/behavioral activation system (BIS/BAS) questionnaire on future optimal risk-taking decisions on the CPST. In this study, two questions were proposed. First, will individuals make optimal or sub optimal risk-taking decisions after experiencing a bad beat? Second, do individual differences in poker playing experience and emotion related traits predict if an individual will make optimal risk-taking decisions?


David Frank

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences