3 Life Skills You Can Learn from Poker

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There is a lot to discuss when playing poker, and people give many different reasons for playing. Some enjoy the strategic elements that flex the muscles of their brains, while others like deciphering the tells their friends use when bluffing. Some like to unwind with the tension, while others like to feed their competitive streak. There are many reasons why people choose to play poker – but is one of them to gain some more widely applicable skills? The gameplay of poker provides players with transferable skills – such as reading others’ body language, important for communication, or staying calm, vital to decision making. These can then be cultivated and used elsewhere. So, what skills can poker help you develop?

Gain Emotional Intelligence Through Reading Opponents

As poker revolves around your opponents, it is a crucial skill to be able to read people and understand where they are coming from. While this ability might not necessarily help you stand out personally and professionally, it is a symbol of strong emotional intelligence. To get someone’s measure shortly after meeting them can be beneficial in many situations and can help you navigate some of the hairier moments that life throws at us.

Poker teaches you to read your opponents to identify what they might do. But a lot of this comes from hindsight. By understanding what an opponent was doing to conceal their hand, we can begin to predict the cards they may have in the future based on how they were acting. This ability to analyze body language and micro-expressions could become almost second nature and you can gain practice from playing poker.

Keep Calm Under Pressure with Bluffing Abilities

The next aspect of poker that people engage with is the need to sometimes bluff. You won’t have a good hand every time, but you don’t have to let that get in the way of succeeding in the game. Professional poker players have cultivated an ability to remain impassive with their hands. Being able to confidently bluff is a key facet of being a strong poker player and one that can be honed.

Being able to bluff can also be beneficial as a transferable skill. While some think of bluffing as lying, what bluffing in poker really teaches you is to not react overtly to sudden shocks. This ability to react coolly and calmly under pressure or when faced with something surprising can be useful in your professional and personal lives. Those who are seen to be unflappable – which is what poker bluffing teaches you – are often seen to be more dependable and more able to handle a variety of situations.

Online sources can help you practice this too, as the list of some of the top online casinos that offer poker shows, many present live versions of the classic card game. Being able to play live poker, with a dealer in front of you helps you to be able to practice with someone in front of you. While they won’t be able to see you, you will gain practice on not reacting to what is happening in front of your eyes.

Woman Playing Chess
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Make Better Decisions with Strategic Thinking

The main reason that poker is such a popular card game is down to its gameplay. There are countless variants of the game, but all have the need to think strategically. Poker players don’t just have to think of what to do with their own hand, try to consider what might be played against them, and keep on top of what cards have already gone – but they have to watch their opponents as well. The famous saying suggests that in poker, you’re not playing your hand, but your opponent.

Thinking strategically is a skill that can be developed while playing poker and then deployed elsewhere in life. Those in business, especially the higher you climb the ladder, must consider the consequences of their actions. Being able to plot moves ahead helps you understand which decisions might be the right ones. Many businesspeople cite playing games like chess – which has the same strategic thinking required – as something they have done to hone their skills in making difficult decisions.

The online poker industry is well placed to help you cultivate these skills. Most online poker sites offer a number of different types of poker – from Seven Card Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo to Texas Hold ‘Em. The different variants each focus on a different poker skill, so trying different kinds can be good all-round practice.

Playing poker can be a fun and enjoyable way to pass the time. It can also help teach us an armada of new skills and abilities that we can use in other areas of our lives. We can learn to think strategically and use information that has come before to determine what might come next. We can learn to read opponents which will help us perfect our emotional intelligence, and we can learn to conceal our own reactions to appear cool and calm under pressure. Ultimately, poker might be played for fun, but some of the skills necessary may rub off on us and be useful in the future.


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