James Bond is seated opposite this year’s villain. The cards are dealt on the table between them. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance, to be decided on whether 007 is any good at bluffing. It all seems a bit ridiculous in the real world that a game of poker could make such a difference. However, as Jake Fox, CEO of independent online gambling resource, Casinopedia explains, playing poker can change your life.
There’s plenty of literature around the financial opportunities available to poker players, as well as the benefits of going pro and being your own boss. But going pro takes time, effort and a single-minded dedication that most of us don’t want to put into our hobbies.
However, that doesn’t mean that the simple art of playing a few hands of poker can’t have some transformative power on other areas of your life. Whether it’s making you a little quicker at counting out your change or training you in complex decision making, there are several ways poker can have a positive effect on your everyday life.
Poker is as much about playing the person opposite you as it is playing the cards you’re dealt. Not only does this help you get more comfortable with the feeling of doubt during personal interactions, it also gives you the tools for controlling your doubts and measuring whether there really is a cause for concern.
Being able to understand the motivations and wishful thinking that might result in a bad player bluffing too much will help you assess the motivations of people you deal with daily. For example, when a colleague at work tells you that they will have that important project finished by the deadline, but then changes the subject to talk about the weather. Your poker practice will equip you with the skills to tell what mental traps they may have fallen into and assess whether they are an optimistic bluffer that needs a helping hand to finish the project, or if they just haven’t done the work.
This kind of skeptical thinking is what is known in philosophy as epistemology, the study of how we know something is true. In poker, we call it hand-reading, but the principles are the same.
Results-orientated thinking is often touted as a good thing in business circles, after all, who doesn’t love results? However, it is actually a terrible way of deciding what to do in a situation in only a partially predictable world and can leave us confused and disheartened when we don’t get results.
You can have an amazing idea at work that looks, on paper, as if it will pay off and get great results. But if something goes wrong the process and idea may be sound, but you could just have been unlucky. For example, if you work at a small retail outlet and plan a sale event, you can’t plan for the fact that a larger outlet may start a sale at the same time, taking attention away from yours.
There are few things that will prepare you to approach results-generated thinking and assess the results you do get more skeptically than losing a hand that looked like a sure thing.
Poker gives you tools to understand the uncertainty of the world and it helps you to determine the right move, one that will work best in the long run or will at least reduce your variance.
Maybe the most important tool poker has to offer you in your life away from the table is managing risk. This is because you learn that simply opting for the most profitable path isn’t always the best decision.
Learning to manage your bankroll, which is basically the money you’ve set aside to play with, so that a bad run won’t wipe you out is what distinguishes the pros from the one-shot wonders. Learning to be sensible with your resources and not to take a gamble that will land you in hot water is essential to success in the rest of your life.
After all, valuing what you’re playing with, what it’s worth to you and how much poorer you are without it is what will keep us all richer, both financially and emotionally. Whether you celebrate that richness with a martini that is shaken or stirred is entirely up to you.
Want to find out more about poker to see if it can help you take control of your life? Then read this handy guide here.