Life Lessons from Poker

life lessons from poker

Photo by Mickey May

Poker is not just a good mental workout and a way to potentially earn big bucks; the game also has valuable life lessons. The skills that you develop at the poker table are ones that can transfer seamlessly into your everyday life. Here we’ll look at some of the key lessons to be learned from the game and how to apply it.

Keeping things in control

Perhaps one of the critical lessons to be learned from playing poker is how to live in the present. Rather than focusing on past losses or the potential of a future win, a good player must remain focused on here and now. At the end of the day, you can only play with the hand that you are given and that is always out of your control. What you can control is how you choose to make the most out of what you’re given. Making peace with your circumstances rather than wondering about what could happen or fixate on what came before will lead to better results.

This philosophy can also be applied to life away from the table. None of us know what’s around the corner, but neither can we go back in time to relive the past. By focusing on the present and making the best of our situation, it is easier to reach a more peaceful and productive state of mind. While your mind is oscillating between the past and the future, you are unable to appreciate the present and grab a hold of its myriad of opportunities. But by living in the present, you will see that it’s easier to make decisions and find your path through life.

Making educated decisions

Learning how to make difficult decisions is another lesson that playing poker teaches well. In a poker game, you must rely on your instincts and intellect rather than looking to others for guidance. This teaches you both self-confidence and the ability to take calculated risks when necessary. Even when the way forward isn’t 100 percent certain, poker teaches you to follow your intellect and make the decision to either act or stay put. Probability plays a significant part in the game of poker and it has an influence over a poker player’s decision-making strategy.

Recently, professional poker player Liv Boeree gave a TEDx talk about the impact probability can have on our lives. She spoke from her perspective as a world-class poker player and somebody who has a lot of experience with probability theory. In her talk, Liv explains that the ability to think about probability, even around emotional topics, is beneficial when playing poker and in life. Accepting the possibility that an unlikely event may occur means that you will be less shocked if anything does happen, and therefore, more equipped to handle the situation. Of course, this applies to the poker table where a cool, level-headed approach is always going to win out against an emotional and overly aggressive one. However, it’s also a good life lesson and one that can be used to plan for your future as well as the next move in a poker game.

Learning from the mistakes

Playing poker can be the perfect way to learn from your mistakes and grow, both in your capacity as a player and as a human. The game is consistently offering up opportunities for self-improvement and encourages you to enjoy the process rather than just racing headlong toward the favorable outcome. Ultimately, when the chips are down, you learn who you are and how strong you are. If you want that to be a well-disciplined but content person, follow the advice above in both your next poker game and life.

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