I played in my second poker tournament. Here’s my story about the first one. I’ve had some time to reflect on the tournament and I’ve discovered ten life lessons poker has taught me.
So Canterbury Park had another Poker U. This one wasn’t exclusive to women. I will say that the women only one was bitchier. The women were kind of snotty, at least the ones at my table were. I think this was their way of intimidating newcomers. And it worked. If one of my good friends hadn’t been at my table, I probably would have gone all in right away just to get out of the tourney. This co-ed event wasn’t like that. The guys kept their words and emotions close to the vest. They also played faster, were quieter so you had to really pay attention, and made larger bets.
Why gambling? I’m not much of a gambler. I hate to lose money and I’m not much of a risk taker. So gambling is something that gets me out of my comfort zone. I like that it challenges me and I like that it allows m to take risks in a controlled environment.
Here are ten life lessons poker has taught me.
Don’t assume people think you’re a certain way. Don’t assume what people think of you. Unless they tell you or you ask you have no way of knowing. For instance, my table was two women and eight men. At one point, I assumed a guy was raising me because he thought I was a woman and didn’t know what I was doing. I allowed this to cloud my betting judgement. This was clearly based on my insecurities with the game of poker. It had nothing to do with me as a person. Don’t let your insecurities trap you into make decisions that aren’t in your best interest.
It’s not a level playing field. Not everyone who takes the Poker U class is a novice poker player. Some people take Poker U because it’s a cheap way to get into a tournament. They’re looking to easily get ahead in life and in poker. This may seem like a disadvantage if you’re the underdog. You may feel like they’re trying to take advantage of you. But I think one of the best ways to improve is to compete with someone who is better than you. I’ve made the greatest improvements not when I’ve competed with people of my same ability or someone whose ability is slightly lower than mine but when I’ve competed against some who was better than me. Sure, you might always win against them but you skills will improve against.
Life isn’t a level playing field, either. We all come from different backgrounds. Some had more access to education while others might not have. We all have to work with what we have, and poker does a great job of teaching us that.
When you try new things you meet new people. Stepping outside your comfort zone puts you in contact with people you might never come in contact with. When you do the same things you tend to come in contact with the same people. When you broaden your horizons, you open your world to meeting new people. In both poker seminars that I’ve been to, one of the benefits they list is networking. Seems odd, right?! But think about it, you’re sitting with these people for maybe hours at a time. You bound to get to know them. Maybe not their hopes and fears and dreams. But what they do, where they work, and why then can afford to play poker at this time of day.
Competition is healthy. When you look at the most successful people, they all take risks. They push themselves to try new things and get out of their comfort zone. And that is how I see poker. An opportunity to be competitive.
Anyone who says they’re not competitive is lying or in denial. Everyone is competitive about something. It’s what keeps us going. It’s how we survive. If we weren’t competitive we’d probably just roll over and die. We need that fire in our belly. We need a fire lit under our feet. What is with all the fire metaphors?! The people who are the best at what they do are always competitive. Competitive with others and definitely competitive with themselves. Competition makes people work harder
Strengthen your critical thinking skills. Poker relies on your being able to think critically about your hand then adjust your strategy based on what those before you have done. The situation is is always changing as those before you make their bets or fold. Not only do you need to focus on each individual hand, you also have to focus on the long game.
Poker develops patience. It’s not a game that you can sit down to, win big quickly, and move on. You have to commit to it being a long game. You have to plan to be in the game for a while. You have to play like
Poker teaches you to read people. Are they telling the truth or are they bluffing you? While you probably don’t encounter a lot of people in your daily life who are flat our lying to you, you will encounter people you need to negotiate with. This makes learning how to read them a great skill to have
Poker is, or can be, cheap entertainment. Poker and gambling may not be your cup of tea. I don’t know that I’d do it if it weren’t for the low, low fee of $10. You can barely see a movie for that price. Let alone learn something, have lunch, and play in a tournament. Plus, there’s a chance that you can win back your investment and more.
Poker is a great way to meet new people. If you like meeting people, poker is a great opportunity to do it. The lady next to me and I bonded over our mutual love for each other’s purses. If you’ve ever watch the World Series of Poker, you know that poker players are very interesting people. They’re quirky, sometimes cocky.
Poker is a game that can be enjoyed at all ages. You don’t need to be in a poker tournament to play poker. A group of guys from my high school have been playing every three weeks for over a decade. To date, I’m the only girl they’ve invited to play. I have yet to take them up on it, because they are way super competitive. But I’m flattered that they think of me as one of the guys and someone that can hold their own with them.
My girlfriends and I play poker occasionally. These ladies are the wives of the guys I just talked about. We don’t play for money. And to be honest, it’s more social than competitive nut it’s still a good time. I’ve heard of people gambling things other than money like coupons and white elephant gifts. Kids can play with things other than money, like Halloween or Easter candy.
I love learning new things.I love challenging myself. Poker covers both of these for me, which is probably why it is so interesting to me right now. Every situation and event has life lessons. Poker is no exception.
What are you learning? How are you challenging yourself?