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What Poker Teaches Us About Winning & Success

March 9 Sandra Wong

If you are a winning player in the game of poker, then there is no reason why you should not be winning at life.

There are 2 dots in which I am going to connect today in this post; advanced poker strategy with life experience.

As I move through my personal journey and grow as a poker player, I realized what a perfect metaphor poker is to life. Being at the poker table and studying game theory at high-levels has allowed me to take the winning principles and apply them to real life situations where I may be at a crossroads.

In this post I am going to overlap basic real life scenarios and situations and put it into the poker equivalency. Hopefully these points will help you see how winners think, but how you can apply game theory to your everyday life for continued success.

Poker metaphor to life: Winning Poker

Poker metaphor to life: Winning Poker

  • Have a plan, set goals & get focused

You have to know what you set out to do before you do it. Know your game. Visualize the end point then break it down to successful steps. Tournament poker is the perfect metaphor for this. You have an end goal of being the #1 winner but in order to get there you have to analyze the tournament structure and break it down level by level. As in life, those who set goals and follow through step by step (i.e., financial, career and family) achieve more success in those areas.

  • Stay classy & take the high road

We’ve all been in the situation where we get are money as the overwhelming favorite to take the pot and then all of a sudden BAM! the river comes and it’s the dreaded miracle one-outer leaving you stunned and confused with what just happened. Well life throws random beats at you as well, and we need to learn from them so stay resilient and keep moving. Don’t dwell on short term set-backs by yelling at another player and how horrible they played. Be gracious, control yourself and don’t hate the player because of what fate the cards turned.

  • Stop being so negative and complaining so much

No one wants to hear EVERY bad beat story you have! We’ve all been there and yes, it sucks and you want to vent, but please keep it in moderation. It’s the equivalent of you complaining to everyone about how unfair your life is. Suck it up buddy, you should be grateful your worse problem is your cowboys running into rockets for the 10th time this week.

  • Luck is real and you can create it.

There is something to be said about putting yourself in a position to ‘get lucky’. If you want to be successful in life, it is not going to come to you. You have to work hard and make yourself available. You can’t win, if you don’t play. Simple.

  • Be kind & surround yourself with people that make you better. Tame your ego.

Be nice to the fish. Stay away from the aggro maniacs and the stop 5-betting against the best player at the table. Learn to pick your spots carefully… you really don’t need to tangle with the most dangerous players do you?

  • Get balance & give yourself some time to unwind

No one wins a poker tournament on tilt… well not very often anyhow. In cash, don’t try to get unstuck grinding for 16 hours. Your brain is tired, take a breather, and stop chasing your losses.

  • There is always more than 1 way to achieve your goals so be selective with your choices. Know your value.

You always have options. Don’t feel like you have to play every hand you are dealt but know that if you do, you have a choice whether to fold, call, or raise and that those choices come with consequences. Sticking to some basics such as hand selection value goes a long way.

  • Fail Fast & pivot

Sometimes you are just beat and that’s ok. Even if you have invested the majority of your stack into a pot with what use to be the best hand such as AA pre-flop, and the flop, turn, river just went from bad, to worse, to impossible multiway there is no shame in folding. If you know you are beat, just let it go and wait for a better opportunity.

  • Don’t be results oriented aka. remember life is a journey

It is sometimes easy to get side-tracked and switch up our strategy mid-way because it does not seem to be working well no matter what we do. While it is good to reflect, we all need to understand that short term variance is rarely a good indicator of anything. Yes, life is full of distractions and pitfalls, but we can’t let that cloud our judgement too much.

Connect with me on Twitter here if you believe poker strategy is the perfect analogy to winning in life! Thanks for reading!  🙂



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