Life Skills Poker Will and Will Not Teach You
Poker is a great game that can teach you a lot of life skills. By making strategic decisions with limited information, you learn to utilize math and probabilities to maximize your success. Let's review some basic skills that poker can teach and those it can not.
Skills Poker Will Teach You
1. Math skills. You need math skills to play poker effectively. It may be a chicken or egg thing (do you need math skills to play poker or does poker teach you math skills), but either way poker teaches an appreciation for concepts such as expected value. You learn to do mental math very quickly when you play poker since you need to calculate pot odds and probabilities on the fly. There's no doubt poker will flex your math muscles one way or another.
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2. Decision-making skills. Poker is a game where you make decisions with limited information. What cards do your opponents have? What are the odds you'll hit your draw or someone will improve to beat you? Can you bluff to scare your opponents out of the pot? To win at poker long-term means to make the best decisions in these circumstances. You learn how to utilize what information you have the probabilities you know to maximize your expected return.
In life, whenever you face a decision with limited information and an arrange of outcomes, you can look at the potential payoffs versus the probability they will happen. It's the same sort of strategic decision making you use at the poker table.
3. How to handle losing. No matter how good you are at poker, you'll have downswings. To be successful, you'll need to learn to cope with a bad day as well as manage your money effectively so you don't go bust due to a downswing. Poker helps you at both an emotional level in terms of handling a beatdown, as well as it teaches money management skills and handling swings.
Skills Poker Won't Teach You
1. How to read people. Yes, some live poker players may utilize tells, but a lot do not. Most poker players pay more attention to how someone is betting than behaving. A lot of poker players play online so much that the Internet is there main source of interaction. In short, poker isn't going to turn you into Mr. Smooth because all of the sudden it will teach you how to better understand others; in fact, it may make you more anti-social.
2. How to build a solid career path. Yes, there are some poker players that made a lot of money playing poker. However, for most, it is a diversion and will not provide enough skills to get a better job with an employer. Playing poker as a side job or as a profitable hobby is great. As a career path, not so much.