Using Poker to Improve Your Life Skills

Change Players navigate the world of poker psychology

As strange as it may sound, the game that you play with your friends and family around the dining room table can have a significant, positive impact on your life. And while it’s nice to dream of winning millions of dollars at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Vegas, that’s not quite what we have in mind here. What we’re talking about is the fact that poker can teach you some extremely valuable life skills. Skills that can have a huge impact on how you live your life and even perhaps how successful you are in your career.

For many years, poker has been a game played in smoky casinos and dens. Most people thought of it as a game of chance where success and failure decided on the turn of a card. But with the boom in online poker and the subsequent raising of the game’s profile, people now understand that it’s a game that requires a strategic thought process and a specific set of skills. Fortunately for you, the skills involved (which we’ve listed below) are a little easier to pick up than anything Liam Neeson had in mind.

” Using Poker to Improve Your Life Skills players navigate the world of poker psychology “

Learning to Lose

Sports psychologist Jared Tendler helps professional players navigate the world of poker psychology. According to Tendler, losing is part of the game that is impossible to avoid, but it’s not the fact that you lose that is important, but rather it’s how you lose. You see, poker teaches you to embrace loss as an opportunity to learn.

Poker players expect to lose, and they expect to lose often. As we said, it’s all part of the game, and every loss offers the player experience of a specific hand and strategy. That becomes second nature to a regular poker player, and when they experience a defeat or loss outside of the game, they are better prepared to accept it. Play poker enough, and a missed promotion might become an opportunity to improve your skills in the office.

Controlling Your Emotions

Controlling your emotions can be tough

Caption: Controlling your emotions can be tough.

As humans, our emotions often rule us and not always with the best of results. Poker teaches you to remove your emotions from any decision you make, thus taking an analytical perspective of the game and deciding on your approach with logic in mind.

As you can imagine, this can be a significant benefit in everyday life. Now, we’re not suggesting for a moment that you become coldhearted, but at times, we need to realize that not everything is personal. Play poker regularly, and you’ll think with your mind before you think with your heart.

Managing Risk

Risk is a fact of life, and if we took none, we wouldn’t get anywhere. That said, minimizing and managing risk is hugely important in both our personal and professional lives. Poker players understand odds and percentages perhaps better than anyone on the planet. They can determine their chances of success in a split second and decide based on their odds. And like all the skills on this list, this is second nature to a regular player.

Play enough poker, and you’ll start to bring this risk management into your decision-making. You’ll take time to correctly analyze a situation before betting on the approach that offers you the best chance of success. Doesn’t it sound like quite an incredible life skill to have?

Playing the Long Game

As you may have guessed from the section on learning to lose, poker is a long game, and players approach the table with a strategy in mind. Their goal is not to win immediately (although that’s always welcome) but to win at some point in the future. With this in mind, they rarely think of short-term gains.

Learning to think in this way can have a hugely positive impact on how you approach certain situations. From education to work goals, and even personal relationships, if we adopt a long-term approach, we’ll see better and more lasting results from our efforts. And that’s even when something unexpected comes up.

Adapting to Unforeseen Events

Life has a habit of throwing us the odd banana skin
Life has a habit of throwing us the odd banana skin

While poker teaches you to play with a strategy in mind, there are times when an unexpected situation calls for a change in the plan. Falling back to plan B may not be an option because, let’s face it, who’s to say that plan B will deal with what has just come up. A poker player though, will make a split-second decision and adapt their game plan immediately.

In life, this is an invaluable skill, as the cosmos does tend to throw little surprises our way (such as last-minute moves) at the most inopportune of moments. But if you can somehow manage to react and adapt with no need for panic or even a raising of the eyebrows, wouldn’t that be incredible? Well, play enough poker, and a huge repair bill for your car or a canceled flight won’t even faze you.

Knowing When to Fold

You put a ton of money into the pot already, but you need to bet more to stay in the game. If you win, you’ll win big, but you know that the odds are slim. At this point, a good poker player will fold and live to fight another day. Most people, however, will go all-in hoping that somehow, they’ll take home the pot.

That’s possibly one of the most valuable lessons that poker can teach you. Knowing when to quit and how to choose your battles is a huge benefit in pretty much every aspect of your life. A disagreement with a customer or your boss could see you lose your job while what seems to be a surefire investment could wipe out your savings. We have to say that if poker teaches you any skill at all, this is by far the best one.

So, if you’re thinking about picking up a new hobby or some of your friends have a regular home game going every week, it’s time to start playing poker. There are few games that can teach you so many incredible life skills that you will use in your everyday life, and better yet be fun to play.

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