Life lessons from poker

Indeed #LifeIsLikeAGame of poker. Simple lessons in life can be drawn from the poker table. We have heard too often that we should  play our cards right to have the life we desire. That is just one sentiment regarding life and poker. Have a look at the summary below:

Lesson One: Play the hand you’re dealt

Perhaps, we have heard of poker. We all have different views concerning the game. However, one underlying thought that we are all accustomed to is that to win a game of poker you have to be lucky. Luck is an enthralling subject such that we tend to think and conclude that the people around us who seem to be more successful were born lucky. However, that is not the case on many occasions.

Lemmie keep it simple. The first lesson I learned from a game of poker is that in life, you have to play the hand you are dealt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the First Prime Minister of India, said that “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play, it is free will.”
The first lesson applies in poker and life because we do not get to choose the cards we are dealt, we simply play the ones we do have to the best of our ability. Yes, it is harder to win with crap cards, but it is not an impossible task. On the same breath, it is hard to work your way through your low moments in life, but it can be done.

Possibly, it would be nice to be born into money like the Kardashians, and it would be nice to always get Pocket Aces when your opponent has Pocket Kings. However, this is not always the case in poker as in life. We are all born into different circumstances, how we handle these situations determines how high we rise or how low we sink in life. Hence, we need to play the hand we are dealt no matter what.

On another note, always have your eyes set on the bright side. As they say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and you will begin to discover that when you are dealt a crap hand, and you do make it, it is so much sweeter.

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(Image Credits: Philosiblog)

Lesson Two: Make your own luck

Thomas Jefferson said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Have you ever realized that the more hard work you put into something the more things fall into place? It is during such moments that you tend to fall for the notion that you are indeed lucky! However, at times, you lose the spark that once motivated you to put in the hard work and all of a sudden things come tumbling down. During such moments, you can sit around and hope things work out for you, or you can take the necessary steps to reduce the role that luck plays in your life. The case is the same for poker game when you are dealt a pack of unfavorable cards.

However, you need to realize that being good at something doesn’t mean you won’t need to be lucky some of the time, it just means you won’t need to be lucky all of the time. Basically, the point that I am driving home is that the old saying of, “I’d rather be lucky than good,” is flat wrong, because if you’re good at something you don’t need to be all that lucky.

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(Image Credits: CBS News)

Lesson Three: Be open-minded

George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Well, that is self explanatory, or isn’t it so?

Even though pundits would have us believe otherwise, not everything is black and white, and there isn’t always a “correct” answer. There is an awful lot of gray in this world.

What I’m telling you is, don’t close off your mind to other ways of thinking or other potential solutions to a problem.

Most of the time, in poker and in life, the answer will be clear-cut and simple, but other times it won’t. There isn’t always a right or wrong way to play a hand of poker, and the same holds true in your everyday life, sometimes you’ll find that there is more than one right answer, and on rare occasions there can often be no good answers and you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

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(Image Credits: Poker News)

Lesson Four: Be PROACTIVE not REACTIVE

According to Steven R. Covey, the first habit of highly successful individuals is that they are proactive. Being proactive means that one takes responsibility for their lives; they do not blame conditions and circumstances, or the conditioning for their behaviour. They understand that they choose their behaviour. On the other hand, reactive individuals are often affected by their physical environment. They search for external sources to blame for their behaviour. For instance, if the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather.

Pro-activeness can be likened to aggression. An aggressive person pursues something rather than waiting for things to happen in their lives. In poker, there is an age old axiom, “Aggression wins.”

In contrast, reacting to everything that comes along limits your chances to succeed, as sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and exert your own will. The perfect example of this occurs in poker: When you call you can only win by having the best hand, but when you bet you can win by having the best hand or getting the other guy to fold.

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(Image Credits: Meta Management)

Lesson Five: Know when to cut your losses

Jackie Robinson asserts that, “Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.” This scenario can be likened to the pursuit of one’s losses with an aim of minimizing it.

In poker, chasing your losses is a prescription for disaster. As a poker player, you need to separate the money you’ve already invested in the game as well as in the current hand from your current decision. It is worth noting that the players who don’t follow this advice, and say things like “I’ve already put so much money in the pot, I can’t fold now” don’t last too long, or at least there money doesn’t.

You’ll find the same thinking is even more prevalent in your regular everyday life as well, with people simply unwilling to trade in the old car that they have been bringing to the shop every month because they just put so much money into it already. Or the people who buy an autographed artefact for lots of money that suddenly drops in price, but they won’t sell it (and cut their losses) because they can’t get what they initially paid for it.

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(Image Credits: 888 Poker)

Lesson Six: Enjoy the journey

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is Journey not a destination.”

A good poker player will tell you that poker is played for the long-run; you don’t look at individual sessions or even weeks or months of results to determine a player’s ability; it’s simply all one big, long game.

Likewise, in life, you should not sweat the small stuff. Moreover, you do not have to beat yourself up over setbacks. However, you should enjoy the process of becoming a skilled practitioner in whatever you choose to do. Sometimes it will take a long time before you become a winning poker player, but when you do those early losses will be wiped out fairly quickly.

Indeed #LifeIsLikeAGame

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(Image Credits: Etsy Studio)

Lesson Seven: Life simply isn’t fair, nor should it be

Barbara Kingsolver said, “Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”

If you want fairness you won’t find it at a poker table, and you won’t find it in life either. Doing the right thing doesn’t always guarantee a good result, and just like in life, the poker tables can be unusually cruel and heartbreaking at times, but such is the nature of a card game and a world where randomness rules.

That being said, in between each of these kicks in the groin the poker gods give you there is a lesson to be learned; focus on what you can control and let the uncontrollable events happen around you; trying to control, or dwelling on, everything is a pointless exercise and takes away your attention from the things you can control.

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(Image Credits: PokerStars)

Lesson Eight: Protect yourself

From time to time, we can be swindled or be taken advantage of. As a result of this, we all have to learn how to protect ourselves at some point in life.

So, always be alert, be skeptical, and as Benny Binion would say, “Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”

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(Image Credits: Gambling Sites)

Lesson Nine: Discipline

Thomas Henry Huxley said, “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, whether you like it or not.”

In life, no matter how skilled you are, without discipline you will implode sooner or later; likely sooner. Likewise, in poker you need to be disciplined and control your emotions, you need to have a disciplined approach when it comes to your bankroll, and you need to be disciplined in the way you play, study, and approach the game.

Think of it this way; it’s fun to play soccer or even basketball, but it’s not so fun to do all of the conditioning drills that will make you a better soccer or basketball player. Often times it’s the little things –the things we hate doing– that are the difference between success and failure.

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(Image Credits: www.theprosplaypoker.com )

Lesson Ten: You don’t have to be the best

It is said that, “To succeed in business surround yourself with geniuses; to succeed in poker surround yourself with idiots.”

In poker, the key to success is to know your limitations and to find games that you can beat and the same holds true in life. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t make promises you cannot keep.

In life, it is important to know that when you are in need of help or advice, ask for it!

It’s simple, but if you understand what you can and can’t do, are willing to seek out the advice of others and actually listen to it, and do the absolute best you can in whatever you choose to do, your life will be a whole lot easier.

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(Image Credits: Vegas Young Professionals)

(NB: Much of the content in this blog post is retrieved from http://www.nj.com/onlinegamblingnj/index.ssf/2014/02/10_important_life_lessons_i_le.html)