Poker player studying diligently

The great news has started to filter down to Australia as well: the skills we develop in order to excel at poker are essentially the same skills we need to be successful in our careers.  So, even though online pokies are still the most popular game at Springbok, the great Aussie online casino, poker is quickly making headway against the champs.

By the way, video poker is also becoming ultra-popular in Australia.  The skills you need for video poker are similar but also quite different than the skills you need to play poker against live opponents whether online or at a land based casino.

Believe in Yourself

Many professional people stagnate at their chosen professions because they either simply don’t believe in themselves enough or they outwardly demonstrate their lack of confidence.

Poker requires that we demonstrate confidence in ourselves in everything we do.  At the professional level, we also need to be able to say what we believe and to back up our opinions with hard facts.  From the first interview to meeting challenges along the way, the confident professionals who can back up their claims usually are the ones who get ahead.

Poker is based on both the hand being played and also on all the hands that came before it.  Experience is a great teacher in poker and in everyone’s professional life.  If you have been unwilling to learn from experience in life, not only will you not get ahead professionally, you will also not get ahead over the poker table.

So, poker helps us professionally by asking us to suspend the hubris which is the wrong kind of self-confidence and to exchange it with open-mindedness and the willingness to learn from experience.

We see this in every walk of life.  Athletes who may have great natural ability but won’t take instruction provide a perfect example.  The athlete who feels that anyone who wasn’t as good an athlete as they are can’t have anything worthwhile to teach them rarely improves over the course of an athletic career.

Every professional needs a mentor and the self-confidence to say that they need the help a mentor can bring.

Take Chances

In business, many people are afraid to take chances.  Their careers often hit an impenetrable wall because top people in business all know that the risk-takers are the ones who take the company far afield.

Louis Pasteur saved thousands of lives because he believed in his theory and was ready to try it out on himself.  Albert Einstein proposed a theory that was so far away from conventional thought at the time that many considered it foolhardy.  In fact, it took several decades for the theory to be fully proven correct.

Jaime Escalante became famous because he had the confidence to challenge his under-achieving students in East Los Angeles and led them to great fame in mathematics.

In fact, teachers challenging students is a prominent motif in the history of business success.

Sam Walton

Sam Walton took a small, rural store and turned it into the largest retail chain in the world.  He readily admitted that he didn’t have all the answers.  Just as in poker, some truths are very well hidden, but Sam Walton believed in serving the public and learning from both his mistakes and his successes equally.  In poker you must be ready to learn from the bad hands, as well as the good hands.

Stay Focused

There are other ways to say this: remain level-headed, avoid tilt, and many others.  The idea is that no one can know everything.  No one can guess correctly every time.  Robert Townshend, who led the Avis car rental company to great heights in the 1960’s, said that if he was correct one-third of the time, he considered himself successful and was satisfied.

Staying calm is a learned trait.  Some people seem to have been born calm but many of these are simply weak personalities that try to avoid conflict at all times.  These players make very poor poker players and often never go far in their professional careers either.

Competitive people who go into business or medicine or poker, need to learn to stay calm in the face of major setbacks.  At poker, you need to internalize the truth that you will never win back the money you have lost if you lose control of your emotions.

Medical television programmes often deal with the emotional side of a surgeon losing a patient.  This is a major crisis in the professional life of any doctor and especially of surgeons.  They need to learn how to deal with the loss and to forge ahead in order to save lives.

Poker players face no such life or death situations so it would seem easy for them to avoid tilt and to stay focused.  It is not.

Stay in Excellent Physical Shape

In any profession, the person who is healthiest exudes the most energy and seems at least on the surface to be the best person for a difficult task.  Poker is a sedentary game so it might seem acceptable for players to be out of shape.  This is not true.

Poker players need to stay healthy because good health leads to sound judgment even after long hours at the poker table. 

Poker players need to eat at regular hours, to drink water for hydration and to drink alcohol only when all the poker has been played for that day or session.  Poker players need to be able to concentrate without distractions and physical aches, pains, and rumblings are major distractions.

Listen to the People Around You

In poker, the people around you are your poker opponents.  In business, the people around you are clients, customers, suppliers, colleagues, employees, and competitors.   Jaimie Escalante listened to his students and filtered out all the others who said what he wanted to do couldn’t be done.

In poker, your opponents will do everything they can to prevent you from knowing what is in their heads.  So, in poker, you need to cultivate ways to “see” inside opponents minds.  In business, you need to anticipate questions and expectations from clients, customers, and all others.

Avoid Expecting to be Lucky

In all professions, the people who get ahead are those who do everything they can to further themselves, their companies, or their organizations.  They may need some luck to get over certain obstacles but few would gamble on luck alone.

In poker, we need to be diligent.  We need to study, pay attention to details, and learn from every hand.  Then, if luck happens to shine upon us, we can reap the great benefits of playing online poker.