9 Poker Skills Guaranteed To Improve Your Life

9 Poker Skills Guaranteed To Improve Your Life

Poker may be just a game of cards in its essence, but it can give you much more than just fun at the tables.

Becoming a winning poker player requires more than being able to count outs and calculate pot odds.

This is why improving as a poker player can have a huge positive impact on your life in general, and today I want to mention the top nine skills that you can learn by playing poker.

1. Handling Your Finances (Bankroll Management)

Image of piggy bank, pie chart and calculator to show finance management.

There are very few skills in poker as vital as the ability to manage your money.

“Your bankroll is your single most important asset, so you need to learn how to handle it properly to succeed in the long run.”

Poor bankroll management, playing higher than you can afford, or taking too many shots, are the fastest ways to lose all your money. This is a lesson many poker players have to learn on their own before realizing there’s simply no way around it.

On the bright side, learning to handle your bankroll in poker will help you prepare for other life situations.

You will learn key aspects of planning and distributing the funds in the most efficient way, and even taking necessary risks. Whether in business or on a personal level, this is a very good skill to have.

2. Making Decisions Under Pressure

Cartoon man inside a spanner, representing pressure.

When playing poker, you’re under constant pressure.

Almost every decision you make during the play can have significant future consequences, and you even can’t take a break when you want one.

Sometimes, you’ll have to play several really tough hands in a row, and you’ll need to make your best decisions every single time. You can’t take a timeout, skip, or ask help from a friend.

While this can be very hard and draining, it will help you learn how to deal with high-pressure situations in a relatively safe environment. As long as you stick to good bankroll management, the impact of any single decision shouldn’t be that huge.

Once this process of making decisions under pressure becomes your second nature, you’ll be much better at making high-pressured decisions in other areas of your life.

This is why many poker players move to sectors such as finance and investments after they finish playing. They become so used to dealing with constant pressure that they’re well suited to this sort of career.

3. Patience

Traffic jam

No matter how good you are and how much you know about the game, you can’t force things too much at the table.

You’ll often have to sit around for long periods of time doing virtually nothing but folding and waiting for good cards or a good situation to appear. Trying to force things may work here and there, but it isn’t a winning strategy.

Anyone who has played poker for a while has learned to be patient.

Once you develop that skill at the tables, you’ll definitely be better equipped to apply it in other life situations.

 “If there is one thing that all good poker players require, that’s patience.“

Even if it’s just standing in line or waiting for a check, you’ll save yourself from unnecessary frustration about things you can’t change.

While everybody around you will be on edge, you’ll be standing there calmly, simply waiting your turn – because what else can you do?

4. Dealing With Losses

Person who has lost their keys

If there is one thing you will surely encounter when playing poker, it’s losing.

If you’re a good player, you won’t lose in the long run, but every player will have many, many losing sessions. That’s just the nature of the game.

To be a winning player, you have to sit through countless losing sessions and keep playing at your best. This way, you learn to keep your concentration and focus on things that matter instead of losing your temper.

This can be very tough at first.

It isn’t uncommon for a player to have several negative sessions come one after another, and this can be quite a blow on your confidence and your bankroll. It will make you feel powerless and even question your poker playing abilities.

But, if and when you get over these feelings, you will come out on the other side much stronger.

Most people don’t have to deal with this daily, so when they have to face a loss of any kind, they are likely to overreact.

You, on the other hand, will understand that losing is just one side of the coin, and will be much better equipped to deal with these situations as they inevitably occur in your life.

5. Reading and Understanding People

Person comforting someone upset

Poker is a game played with and against other people. It involves understanding your opponents, their motivation, and their reasoning.

I’m not talking about making movie-like reads where you make a call based on the fact they raised their left eyebrow. Rather, you’ll constantly be in a position to assess other players and think about their actions.

After a while, you’ll become much better at understanding people and their motivations, and not just at the tables.

Poker certainly does a good job of imitating life in certain aspects, and it will teach you to recognize emotions such as fear, anxiety, excitement and more in others.

Being able to recognize these emotions is a valuable skill to have in personal life but can also be quite an asset in business, when you have to decide on someone you don’t know that well.

“As you play the game and continue to find ways to beat the competition, you will inevitably develop certain skills, which can greatly help you in everyday life.“

6. Making the Most of the Hand You Are Dealt

Happy family that does not have many material posessions.

There is an expression you’re probably aware of: “Play the hand you are dealt.”

In life, just like in poker, sometimes you have to make the most out of a bad situation, and you don’t get to change your hand at will.

Unlike most people who never played the game, you will learn full well what this means.

Sometimes at the tables, you won’t get that big hand you’re waiting for, and you’ll be forced to find the best possible scenario with a mediocre holding and go with it.

While not ideal, it certainly beats sitting around as your stack turns into nothing as blinds and antes go up, and you keep folding your way into oblivion.

This skill of taking charge of things and making your stand can be quite an asset in many life situations.

Instead of accepting things are bad and can’t be changed, you’ll be looking for ways to make the best even out of bad situations, be it on a professional or personal level.

7. Developing a Deep Understanding of Risk vs Reward Ratio

Risk vs Reward Ratio

There are very few environments that are as good as poker in teaching you what you need to know about the risk vs reward principle.

While you may have heard the saying that “tight is right” countless times, the fact of the matter is that you need to take calculated risks to make money at the tables.

Every decision you make while playing poker has certain financial consequences.

Whether it’s in a cash game, where you put real money on the line, or in a tournament where you’re trying to climb the pay ladder, almost every single decision has some financial impact connected to it.

Understanding and developing this skill is invaluable in business. Instead of being reluctant to take any risks, or blindly jumping to an unknown situation, you will learn to calculate your possible rewards.

 Poker will teach you how to assess such situations and make them as profitable as you possibly can.

8. Understanding the Importance of Properly Timed Aggression

Birdseye view of people in a board meeting

Depending on your character, you may or may not be aggressive enough in your life. I’m not talking about physical aggression, of course, but rather the type of aggression that is sometimes required to get you where you want to go.

For example, in business negotiations, you’ll sometimes need to be aggressive and push for what you want if you feel you can get it.

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, poker is a great environment where you can learn how to implement aggression when and where needed.

Pulling a well-timed bluff or going for a bit of extra value where you feel your opponent is reluctant to fold will give you the kind of edge you want to have at the tables.

These skills translate very well to real life.

Next time you’re in a situation where you need to make that extra push, you’ll be ready for it. You’ll be able to assess the situation correctly and do the right thing instead of backing off with the fear of losing what’s already on the table.

9. Improving Your Focus

Person meditating

It is no secret that we live in a world of distractions. With all the mobile phones, tablets, TV screens, and everything else all around us, it’s hard to stay focused on any single activity.

Poker can be a great training field for your focus.

Most players tend to zone out when not involved in a hand and do something else while waiting for the new deal. If you want to excel, though, you shouldn’t be one of those players. Instead, stay focused on what’s going on at all times.

Even if you’re not involved in a hand, you can pick up on a valuable piece of information from a hand developing between other players. This information can come in handy later down the line when you do get involved in a pot with a particular opponent.

Learning how to keep your focus at the tables will translate well into other life situations. It will teach you to ignore distractions and keep your attention on whatever you’re doing at the moment.

It will take some time, practice, and effort, but developing this skill is almost guaranteed to make you much better at any job.

Improve Your Poker Game, Improve Your Life

“There aren’t many games like poker that can help you develop so many real-life skills.”

Because it involves so many strategic, mathematical, and psychological elements, poker provides countless opportunities to improve various skills, many of which can come in handy in other personal and professional situations.

If you take it seriously, the game will challenge you on many levels and will require constant growth and development if you want to succeed.

This is what makes poker so hard in the first place, but it’s also what makes it one of the most valuable and useful games to learn.

You don’t even have to become a professional poker player to take advantage of the game. Even if you play casually but think about your decisions and work on improving, you’ll develop many of the skills discussed in this article.

So, on top of having a lot of fun when playing, you also reap other benefits that will help you succeed in your day-to-day life.

Now you’re in the know about the skills you will learn in poker, why not head to one of the top online poker sites and start refining your skills today?

Tadas Peckaitis poker coach

About The Author:
Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, published author and poker coach. He writes for a range of online publications and helps other poker players to excel. He can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.