Beyond the Table: 4 Ways Poker Helps You in Life
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2014-03-08, by JTringerThe more you play poker the more you'll see parts of the game in different aspects of your life. There are many traits of successful poker players that lead them to success, and by working on developing those traits you will win not only poker, but life.
Poker is a game where you constantly have to fight your instincts. When you have aces but you know someone has a set, it's a very begrudging fold. Chasing draws when the odds are unfavorable will lead to massive losses, and being too stubborn to give up on a bluff costs you just as much.
These types of situations are obvious in poker because they happen within even short sessions, but in life they are harder to recognize. A common example would be arguing with a boss or co-worker. Many people make mistakes at work or home and are too stubborn to admit they were wrong.
When you recognize those emotions, just like at the poker table, you need to make a logical decision like you would in a game. Simply doing this will lead to better relationships with the people in your life.
Any player who has played enough poker knows that the game comes with massive amounts of variance. In order to survive and thrive you must overcome the frustration of short-term losses and accept them in exchange for long-term success.
Life mirrors poker situations all the time, and it's immediately obvious which people make decisions for the short-term and which ones make decisions for the long-term. I'll give you a hint, successful people know how to be patient.
There's an infamous experiment that shows this principle perfectly called the Stanford marshmallow experiment. The experimenters offered children one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows if they waited a few minutes for the experimenter to return to the room. They then tracked these children throughout their lives and the ones who waited for the two marshmallows were substantially more successful in every part of their lives.
Whether it's losing weight or saving money, practicing long-term thinking in lieu of short-term reward will make you a more successful person.
Making money playing poker comes down to having an overall edge on the table. Maybe you're only a bit better than everyone, or maybe most of the table is tough but there is one dreadful player. Being able to find and play in tables where you have an edge is one of the most important traits as a poker player.
If you want to stand out in life, you need to approach things from an original angle. If you wanted to start a business, would you open up a burger chain? I hope you wouldn't, because that market is saturated and you will struggle to eke out any profit. This is analogous to a poker table with only regulars, there's no easy money out there.
Contrast that to the recent entrepreneurs in Colorado who were the first to jump into the Marijuana market. Even a business with a subpar product could make a profit in that business, because there is easy money (fish) everywhere.
That's just one example of learning to spot opportunity. When it comes to other parts of your life it's the same though. When looking for a job, don't put yourself in a situation where you're competing against grads from Harvard, find a company who typically hires those with less experience or knowledge that you have.
Calmness and Patience
Like most normal people, it took me a long time to learn not to get angry while playing. Even though there are many great things about poker, there are so many frustrating parts of it as well. There were more than a few times in the beginning where I found myself yelling at a screen after a bad beat.
Over time you learn to deal with the frustration of the game. Sometimes you are able to clearly see the long-term perspective and focus, other times you learn you just have to walk away and play later.
When you get angry in real life, you'll notice that you experience the exact same emotions. Once you recognize the emotions you may be able to see that you would be better off by being calm and making logical decisions. Other times you may be able to recognize that you're about to do or say something terrible and have to walk away and come back later.
Being able to recognize and control your emotions allows you avoid any catastrophic mistakes in work or home relationships, and keeps you out of trouble in general. There are many men and women who have made mistakes while angry that have cost them years of stress and legal consequences because they could not control themselves.
Poker may not be a cure-all for everything, but there are many things you can learn from it and apply to the rest of your life if you pay attention.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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