Poker is a game that puts an individual’s analytical, mathematical and interpersonal skills to the test. It also indirectly teaches some valuable life lessons.
Firstly, it teaches players to keep their cards secret. The best way to do this is by keeping your hand face down or held very close to your chest (hence the origin of the phrase “playing it close to the vest”). This helps prevent other players from reading your tells, which are unconscious, physical signs that give away the value of your hand. Tells can include things like rubbing your eyes, biting your nails and nervous facial or body tics. Expert poker players know how to hide their tells.
Additionally, poker teaches players to read their opponents. This isn’t always done via subtle physical poker tells, but rather by observing their betting patterns and analysing their behavioural traits. For example, if someone calls all the time and then suddenly raises the pot then they may be holding a strong hand.
It also teaches people to be patient and persevere. This is because poker can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re losing hands that you should win. It can be hard to stay calm and focused when your chips are down, but it’s important if you want to be a good poker player.
Another important lesson that poker teaches is how to make smart decisions. A big part of the game is assessing the quality of your hand and making the right call, and this improves your critical thinking skills. This is something that can benefit your life outside of the poker table, too.
Finally, poker teaches players to be disciplined and consistent. It can be tempting to call a bad bluff or play too conservatively when you have good cards, but if you want to be a successful poker player then you need to be able to stick with your plan no matter how boring or frustrating it might get.
In addition, playing poker also teaches people to be resilient. Poker can be a very stressful game, especially when the stakes are high, and it’s not uncommon for players to fall victim to terrible luck or to lose a hand that they should have won. Being able to accept defeat and learn from your mistakes is an essential skill in poker and in life.