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Ten Real-Life Poker Lessons
a s there a player out there who hasnâ€™t observed that poker is a metaphor 4^ for life? That metaphor is probably one reason why poker is so popular. Not only does it frequently mirror life, poker models it. Poker is life in a nutshell. The entirety of our existence compressed into a single hand of poker is a compelling thought.
A metaphor and a model for life! If true, there should be important life lessons everyone can take away from the poker table. When learned and applied, these lessons should make it much easier for a poker player to survive in a world where most people havenâ€™t been force-fed these life-lessons across the poker table.
Being Selective and Aggressive
In the real world you do have to pick your battles, just as you must in poker. Sometimes you have to draw your proverbial line in the sand (â€śYouâ€™ve gotta know when to hold â€™emâ€ť); other times you have to carefully choose when to retreat (â€śKnow when to fold â€™emâ€ť).
History is replete with examples. General Robert E. Lee, confronting overwhelming supremacy in men, munitions, and technology, was able to keep the Confederacyâ€™s cause alive as long as he did because he picked his battles carefully. He did not engage the Union Army at every opportunity; he selected opportunities only when he believed he could negate the Unionâ€™s inherent advantages and overcome them.
Safetg at Alt Costs Can Be Costlg
During the early stages of the U.S. Civil War, Union General George McClellan was unwilling to commit his troops, even when the odds were strongly in his favor. McClellan behaved like a player who is overly weak and overly tight, and General Lee consistently ran him off the best hand. McClellan ultimately
278 Part V: The Part of Tens
suffered the military equivalent of a really bad beat. President Lincoln, who realized that his man held most of the big cards â€” and wondered why he wouldnâ€™t play a hand and therefore couldnâ€™t win â€” sacked him!
You canâ€™t wait for a royal flush in cards or in life. When you have an overwhelming advantage, itâ€™s usually time to engage your opponent.
Knoufing Hour Opponent
If you can pick up tells in a poker game â€” where players take great pains not to broadcast them â€” think how easy reading people away from the table can be. Yet seemingly few of us really take the time to know our opponents. Is your boss in a nasty, irritable mood? Maybe youâ€™d be better off feigning an emergency and postponing your annual performance review until next week. You have a bad hand, and rather than risk losing even more money, the smart move is to fold and wait for a better opportunity.
Thereâ€™s undoubtedly something romantic about the fatalistic approach of marching into the jaws of death or some more civilized equivalent, but itâ€™s not a strategy that will help you win at either poker or life. But you neednâ€™t take our word for it. General George Patton said much the same thing in his celebrated quote, â€śThe idea of war is not to die for your country; itâ€™s to make , the other guy die for his.â€ť
Timing Can Be Everything
Is that boss of yours still in a foul mood? Wouldnâ€™t you stand a better chance of winning if you held a stronger hand? Tackle a tough project now. Close that sale and make some customer so happy that he calls your boss and tells him how valuable you are. Once youâ€™ve been able to accomplish that, youâ€™re holding strong cards â€” strong enough to stand up to your annual performance review.
This situation is like so many that occur in poker. Someone bets, another player raises, and you throw your marginal hand away, preferring to wait for a much stronger hand before engaging your opponent.
Timing is important in your social life too. You donâ€™t have to be an expert on body language to realize that youâ€™re not making a great impression on your date, who has legs crossed, arms folded, and is leaning away from you with a bored, indifferent facial expression. Itâ€™s time to try a new strategy, or be selective, fold your hand, and wait for some new cards to be dealt.
Chapter 22: Ten Real-Life Poker Lessons
bedding If the Prize Is Worth the Game
Winning poker players usually wonâ€™t draw to a flush when the odds against making it are 3-to-l or more, but the pot promises a payoff of only two dollars for each dollar invested. Theyâ€™ll wait until the pot promises a bigger payoff before risking their money.
The analogy is also true away from the table. While real-life payoffs can vary widely, your investments are usually time, money, or both. Is it worth your time to spend half a day trying to make a small sale without the promise of greater rewards down the road, or are you better off courting one of your bigger, better customer^?
Whenever you analyze situations like this, the answers often seem obvious. Still, many people fritter away large amounts of time, not realizing that they are being horribly unproductive in the process. Office workers spend hours dealing with problems and issues that may be urgent, but are often neither significant nor important.