Poker: it’s not a game you need money to play. You can just play for fun – and it can be a whole lot of fun! But those who love the game say it’s about much more than the luck of the draw. Play your cards right, they say, and you can learn a few valuable life lessons along the way.
Poker is a game that looks simple on the surface, but that has layer upon layer of twists and turns. It fascinates. It has even become part of the language. Just as you may be quoting Shakspeare without realizing it, you could be using poker metaphors. You might mention poker terms like “ace in the hole,” “showing your hand,” “fold equity,” “poker face,” “calling a bluff,” or “doubling down” without a second thought and without ever having been a poker player. But what about those life lessons? Let’s investigate!
1. Sharpening Your Powers of Observation
In poker, watching your opponents’ behavior is as important, if not more so, than minding your cards. By carefully watching how they play and how they react, you can form an idea of what kind of hand they have. Of course, they could be bluffing too! Will your powers of observation uncover the real truth?
2. Learning to Master Your Emotions
Even when we’re only playing for tokens, we love to win! But as in life,that’s not always going to happen. Whether you’re delighted with your cards or find them disappointing, it’s important to hide your feelings. If you don’t, your opponents will guess what’s going on. In everyday life, there are times when being able to conceal your emotions and remain calm proves to be a valuable skill. Practice makes perfect!
3. Learn to Take Calculated Risks
In our personal lives and our businesses, taking calculated risks can bring benefits. Almost all life’s big decisions are calculated risks. Getting married? If you spend too much time thinking about the things that could go wrong, you’ll never take the plunge. Investing your money? There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment.
But taking risks without thinking about the consequences and without weighing the possible benefits against the risks isn’t a recipe for success. The game of poker compresses risk-taking and its consequences into the space of a few minutes. How did that go for you?
4. Learn to Lose With Grace
We always want to win, no matter what we do – but nobody can win all the time. Poker teaches us that no matter how skilled we are, or how well we play, there will be times when our luck is out and we just can’t win. Getting upset about it doesn’t change the outcome. Learn to handle the big disappointments in life by starting with the small ones that lie hidden in a deck of cards.
5. Do What you Can With What You Have
Wouldn’t it be great if life always dealt us the hand we wanted? Of course, it doesn’t, and learning to make do with what we have, and possibly even winning despite this, is one of the life lessons poker can help us to learn. So, what have you got? And can you win the game of life with it? Playing smart can make the difference between winning and losing!
And There’s More
There are many other life skills that poker can help to sharpen. Decision making? Check! Patience? There will be times when you need it! Knowing when you’re beat? Sometimes, we need that too! Evaluating probabilities? Now you’re talking! But do have a care. It’s better to stake your jellybeans than your life savings. After all, it’s “only” a game!