Poker is like life — it takes skill, good decisions and a bit of gambling

| December 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

George Epstein

As we begin another year, I thought we should take a break from our lessons on how to win more at the poker table. Instead, let us contemplate how much alike are the games of poker and life. Do you know who said:

“Life is just like a game.

First you have to learn rules of the game,

And then play it better than anyone else.”

It was none other than the famed Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, who created the Theory of Relativity! If it is good enough for him, then I certainly must agree. . .

After we become expert in the rules of the game, it takes a good mind and lots of effort to learn the skills that make the difference between a winner and a loser — between success and failure. Our first five columns in the Larchmont Chronicle have set you on the way to playing poker better than most of your opponents.  With more study and experience, you still can do better. There are so many strategies and tactics to be learned and refined — just as in life.

Many people would disagree. After all, isn’t poker a form of gambling where you trust to luck? Yes, but so is life. Gambling is taking risk to gain something of value. (It could be money.) We do that every day of our lives.

Albert Einstein

Key to success in life, as well as in playing poker, is making the best decisions. Getting a good education helps — be it poker or life. In both cases, the more good information you have and the more you learn, the better your chance of succeeding. In poker, we seek our opponents’ tells, and we try to “read” their hands. That is routine for a salesman, but also a daily occurrence for all of us in our interactions with others.

Poker players have learned not to invest their chips when tired; your thinking is impaired. So, too, in our lives, we want to be alert when we make important decisions. Psychology is important in both poker and life, as are good health and logical thinking. Do not depend on hunches.

Money management — how you handle all aspects of your finances — is essential in both. Can you imagine a successful poker player who fails to use money management? He needs to sustain his stacks of chips while patiently awaiting worthy starting hands. Likewise, adequate capital is essential for the new business owner or when the unexpected occurs. Any amount can prove to be too little if you don’t have good money management skills.

We take precautions to avoid going on tilt when we lose a huge pot we were so sure was ours. Tilt is a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in becoming over-aggressive — and losing many more chips until he recovers or goes broke. That can happen in life, too.

Be it poker or life, success comes to those who make those decisions that offer a gain higher than the risk and to those who know how to build the size of their pots. But there is one big difference.

Can you guess?

George Epstein, a long-time local resident, is the author of three poker books and currently is writing “Win More in Texas Hold’em.”

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Category: Entertainment

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