You develop your poker skills so you can make money, but your intense emotional involvement in the game has its rewards as well. Every poker player, at least a little bit, craves the prestige that comes from being a winning poker player. It's almost as if a winning poker player is a successful alchemist, able to make gold from lead.
When you join a poker game, you are hoping to perform this feat of alchemy by increasing the amount of money you possess simply by playing cards. If you can beat the other players when they bet against you, then you will profit, and this person-to-person competition is very alluring. In addition to winning money, the satisfaction that comes from defeating an opponent delivers an emotional reward. Everyone wants to feel competent and be recognized as such, and winning a pot in a poker game meets these needs.
But winning a hand requires that you pick your battles well. You must become skillful at estimating what cards your opponents have. You gradually collect this information during a game by studying how your opponents bet, what they have at the showdown, what verbal and nonverbal clues they displayed during various kinds of hands, and so forth. Your opponents at any poker game will require constant study, and most of them will be scrutinizing you just as much. The information gathered during this mental combat will be crucial to your decisions to bet, raise, or fold.
Because you are being watched as well, you will constantly have to be mindful and controlling of your own emotions and actions. Many players enjoy these interpersonal challenges and consider it one of the more appealing aspects of poker. You will feel satisfied when you correctly read another player's hand or snatch up an opportunity to successfully bluff someone who has become emotionally vulnerable.
Even if you have a bad game, you remain motivated to try again. Your desire to improve challenges you to keep playing poker. You will stay engaged trying to figure out what you did wrong. Were you misjudging your opponents or did they have you all figured out? Controlling, analyzing, and making correct judgments based on your interpretations of other players' actions are essential to winning at poker. The combination of emotional, psychological, and rational logic is the fundamental attraction of poker. You get to pit your people skills and calculating mind against other people and actually get rewarded when you succeed.