Why Everyone Should Play Poker

Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios

Most of what I know as a CEO I learned as a journalist. And most of what I know about reporting, I learned by… playing poker.

  • Why is this important: I don’t utter a lot of unconventional or controversial parenting advice, other than encouraging kids to play with real humans…for real money…at real poker tables.

Disclaimer: Axios does not condone or encourage illegal betting by minors.

But I TO DO! OK, I’m talking about playing for pennies if you’re young or on a tight budget.

  • The poker table is a classroom filled with valuable life lessons:

1. You learn to read people.

“Show me your eyes, and you might as well show me your cards.”

— Doyle Brunson, famous poker champion

If you sit around a table long enough, you will begin to read people’s eyes and twitches, their tendencies and styles, their strengths and weaknesses. Think of poker as a fun way to sharpen your emotional intelligence.

2. You learn luck.

“Poker is 100% skill and 50% luck. »

— Phil Hellmuth, another famous poker champion

So much success flows to get the right break at the right time – and be ready to pounce on it.

  • Poker shows you how competence can help You win. But only by surfing the rhythms of luck can you win big.

3. You learn to recognize fact patterns.

“Life, like poker, has an element of risk. It must not be avoided. It must be faced.”

— Actor Edward Norton

Most people are predictable if you look closely enough. Over time, you can almost anticipate how people will react to good or bad situations, just as they do to good or bad cards.

  • And while the 52 cards are extremely unpredictable, there is a definite number with a concrete hierarchy and a knowable probability of success or failure. Ditto for most major life decisions with uncertain variables.

4. You learn to navigate at high pressure.

There’s something about competition, amplified by a few pennies at stake, it bothers you. Your blood pressure spikes. Competing impulses race through your head. Instinct takes over.

  • That’s most poker hands – and the most tense moments in life. Your brain learns to navigate these moments through trial and error.

5. You learn when to quit.

“Know when to hold them. Know when to bend them. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.”

– Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

The biggest mistake poker players do is the same we all do in relationships, jobs and bad habits – not knowing when to quit.

  • Sometimes life gives us bad cards. Sometimes we play the wrong cards. Recognizing your own weaknesses and tendencies helps limit the number of stupid moves you make.

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