PokerStars ambassadors reveal what they’ve learned from the game…
By Karen Kwan
Could playing poker help you when it comes to your career and your relationships? Most of us think of poker simply as a card game–one you can enjoy playing with buddies on poker night, online or at a casino, but this game of strategy can help you develop skills that’ll help you in other areas of your life. AmongMen recently caught up with PokerStars ambassadors at the European Poker Tour in Prague to get the lowdown on the lessons they’ve learned playing poker.
Poker Improves Your Rationalization
Although Canadian Parker Talbot says he’s heard other poker players talk about how poker has helped them navigate life, the skill he’s gained most from the game is being able to approach different situations rationally. “I think people hear numbers like 90 percent or 95 percent and they equate that to 100 percent,” he says. But after playing hundreds of poker games and seeing that five percent tip things repeatedly, that’s allowed him to put things into perspective. “That five or 10 percent of possibility is a real thing,” he says.
Poker Strengthens Your Resilience
While playing poker calls for having a sense of discipline, you also must gain that capacity to keep going during rough times, says Ramón Colillas, who is based in Spain. “Those ups and downs–that’s part of the game and you have to understand that that’s always going to be there and you can go through it and come out stronger on the other side. He’s learned that there are life situations where things may be rough but he is able to accept the situation and understand it won’t be like this forever. “When you play poker, there’s a term called ‘expected value’ which means no matter what hand you have, always play the best you can no matter the result, and that knowledge helps me in my personal life.”
Helps with Honest Decision-Making
Overall, poker is just one big strategic problem, so that tunes your brain, says Talbot. For Ben Spragg, he’s found that poker playing can help you become better at decision making and then working through the outcomes of that decision. “I think a lot of people make a decision and take a course of action, and if it doesn’t work out, they assume that the plan or the decision was incorrect. In poker, you learn pretty quickly that you can make every decision correctly but sometimes an external factor that you can’t control will make the plan not work,” says the UK-based ambassador. In your day-to-day life, you learn to take that lesson from poker and just accept that sometimes things aren’t going to work out, he says. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it was your fault but you have to have an aggressive honesty with oneself when it comes to evaluating the decision.”
Benny Bruneteaux from France agrees that it helps with decision making. It’s boosted his confidence in all respects of his life. “Even if I’m just driving and deciding which way to go and what to do,” he says. It’s helped him evaluate life decisions, even biggies like deciding when to have a child.
Develop Greater Emotional Control
“In poker, if you can identify people’s points of frustration, it makes you money,” says Spragg. At a live poker table, if you can see when someone is emotional, that’s going to give you an edge, he continues, and he’s found that poker can help you develop a good sense of how to look at and how to deal with people’s emotions. He gives the example of your car getting dented. “There’s no point getting upset and frustrated but rather ask ‘How do we solve this?’ Poker teaches you that losing control of your emotions is never beneficial,” he says.
Boosts Your Social Skills
Not everyone is a social butterfly and socializing can take some practice and the PokerStars ambassadors have seen how playing poker can help you meet people from all different walks of life and help you strengthen your social skills. “You can spend 10 hours at a table with a guy from around the world and you’ll learn about different cultures when you talk at the table,” says Bruneteaux. “It’s a beautiful game for that,” he says. Julien Brecard, who is also a commentator at all PokerStars events alongside his friend Bruneteaux, agrees. “It opens up your mind when you’re experiencing all of these different cultures.”