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Poker Mental Game & Planning

Top 3 Life Lessons from Playing Poker

2,000 Views on 24/5/23

We’ve had a look at what we consider the three that are most useful in our everyday lives

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Playing poker teaches us a lot about people. And, as we know, everybody is different in some way. Not just in how they look but also in how they behave. A big part of playing live poker is to delve deep into some of these differences so we can work out what the best course of action is.

But this idea also translates into real life too. From playing live poker we can become better tuned into what people are thinking and what their mood is so we can understand how they might treact in life too.

So, what are the three top life lessons that playing poker can teach us? We’ve had a look at what we consider the three that are most useful in our everyday lives.

Responsibility for Our Own Actions

Poker can be compared to many other individual sports. It’s just you and your opponent(s). This also means that there can be no excuses; no blaming of anybody else but yourself when things don’t go according to plan.

This is in stark contrast to a team sport like football or rugby where people often try to fall back on the shortcomings of their team mates.

Of course, in poker we alone reap the rewards and glory, which is why many of us prefer this type of discipline. We alone are responsible for our own actions.

The luck factor in poker also teaches us the life lesson that not everything can go our way all of the time. Fair enough, it’s plain to see that a great deal of poker players never learn this lesson and repeatedly go off the deep end when facing a bad beat, but the opportunity to learn is still there.

Hard Work and Discipline Pays Off

Poker is a great example of reaping the rewards of hard work. This applies in many areas of our lives but yet it’s just something else that many people roundly ignore either through laziness and a lack of motivation or simply not caring about the result.

Poker is a game that cannot be mastered in the modern era by just playing alone. Even if we forget about the GTO solvers available, to build up good fundamentals requires many hours of study. Once this period is over and further success is desired, is should be plain to see that hard work will be the catalyst that allows a player to rise up the stakes.

Discipline is key to following through with consistent hard work. Little but often can soon grow into a heavy study schedule that is highly effective, but the discipline must be there from the beginning to get the ball rolling.

Discipline also applies when playing poker too. It’s all very well to understand what the theory is in any given situation, but you must be able to make the correct play.

The classic example is when a player is on tilt and knows that the right play is to fold, but they simply cannot stop themselves from making the call. This is poor discipline and will turn a potentially winning player into a losing one.

Always have the discipline to make the play that you believe is the correct decision.

Mistakes Will Always Happen - It’s How You React That Matters

Poker is such a complex game that no human player is able to play without making mistakes. Come to think of it, we know that even GTO solvers do not play perfectly given the entire game tree, but only in a particular hand in isolation.

The best players understand how to react when they make a substantial mistake while playing so that it doesn’t ruin the rest of the session. Learning about the mental game is crucial master this aspect of poker.

Just like in real life, not beating yourself up too much is the most effective way to put this problem to bed and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

In poker, anytime you play a hand that you think you might have made a significant mistake in, you must review the spot and ideally seek the advice of a more experienced player to prevent it happening again.

Final Thoughts

There is a famous book called How Life Imitates Chess by former world champion Garry Kasparov detailing much of what is written above. Many of the lessons are the same, showing just how beneficial individual games of decision making are to people willing to learn.

Poker teaches us many lessons about ourselves, often revealing things that we weren’t even aware of before we took up the game.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More


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