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Top 10 transferable life skills for poker

11 Jan 2021

By Narciso Baldo
Poker is a complex game that requires many attributes to become a master. It may seem a little daunting to a new player reading this, but rest assured, there are skills you may already possess that can be utilized when playing poker online or in casinos. In this article, we will look at the 10 life skills that can be used for poker.

10) Attention to detail

Having a good attention span is a great skill to have. Many jobs require this as it ensures accuracy and ensures mistakes are avoided or detected quickly. Attention to detail is also a huge benefit at the poker table. If you are attentive, watching the table properly and picking up on every little detail, you will be able to make better, more informed decisions. I recommend using your attention to detail by taking notes diligently. This will allow you to exploit opponent weaknesses and not repeat errors against them.

9) Stamina

Stamina is an important skill in poker, particularly in tournaments where you could be playing for eight or more hours at a time. Stamina is not just about being able to last, it’s about maintaining a high standard too. If you are accustomed to long shifts or a fitness fanatic, you can bring the stamina you’ve developed to the poker table and have a head start on a lot of opposing players. Poker players aren’t exactly the fittest bunch and I’ve seen countless players crumble after playing four hours or more, making poor decisions and losing their discipline. This is because they lack the stamina to play well for more than a few hours.

Creating a budget and sticking to it benefits anyone who plays poker.

Creating a budget and sticking to it benefits anyone who plays poker. (photo by The Blue Diamond Gallery)

8) Budgeting

Creating a budget and sticking to it is a benefit to anyone who plays poker regularly. If you are adept at budgeting, you already have decent bankroll management skills. The two go hand in hand. You can draw upon your life experience of budgeting to ensure you don’t play too high or move up in stakes too quickly. Strict bankroll management is a concept lost on some poker players. They think just being good is sufficient, which is simply untrue. Staying in the game and maintaining a bankroll is critical to long time earning. You can take comfort that you will be well placed to keep playing due to your budgeting skills.

7) Mental toughness

Being mentally tough can come from many sources; a difficult upbringing, a hard job or challenging relationships. Wherever it comes from, it can be an awesome weapon to draw upon in the poker environment. Mental toughness will prevent you from tilting, help you handle bad beats, deal with obnoxious opponents, and sustain you during bad runs. I can’t emphasize enough how great a skill this is. Many poker players have all the skills needed to be an expert but will never become a professional poker player because they’re weak mentally. They can’t handle the challenges of variance and will blow several buy-ins on tilt. Are you mentally tough? If so, you might be a great poker player in the future!

6) Maths

It’s quite a broad term “maths,” but it encompasses lots of different aspects of poker; pot odds, bet sizing, bluffing and c-betting to name a few. Even the smallest of poker winners need a cursory understanding of maths. The better you are at it, the farther ahead you are of your opponents. That may surprise you but consider a river decision where one needs to calculate a profitable call; a player who is incapable of calculating the percentages will be at a disadvantage. I’ve found those that are strong at maths can calculate intuitively without much time. This is invaluable in an environment where everyone wants you to make decisions quickly. Obviously, this needs to be coupled with solid poker skills, but by already having the skill, you won’t have to invest countless hours training.

5) People skills

Are you a people person? Do people gravitate toward you and like you? If so, you might excel in a live poker setting. Understanding your opponents and being liked are very useful skills to have at the poker table, particularly in casinos. It might not have a huge effect on the best poker players you face, but it can certainly impact the average player. They will be less inclined to go after you, bluff you or steal your blinds. Daniel Negreanu has made millions on the back of his people skills so there’s no question it’s a transferable skill. People skills doesn’t just mean being liked by your opponents, though. It’s about understanding them, their motivations and their tendencies to use to your benefit. You can extract a lot of information through table chat. Use it to your advantage and your table image and you can make a lot of money.

4) Work ethic

A lot can be said for someone who works hard. It can take you far in life, as many self-made millionaires will attest. If you’re a hard worker, you have a skill that will help your poker development. This can be used in countless ways away from the table. I tell players I mentor that it must be a two-way street. You need to work hard to become an expert. Some people get into poker thinking it will be easy money and aren’t prepared to put in the hard work. If you have a strong work ethic, you will improve quicker than your adversaries as you will be prepared to put in time away from the table. Soon enough, you will overtake more experienced players through sheer hard work.

3) Assertiveness

Within half an hour of sitting at a new table, you tend to know the best player(s) are at the table. How do you know? They are assertive. They have a way of playing and an air of confidence that distinguishes them from the inferior players. This is not arrogance. It’s assertiveness that can be seen through the way they play and carry themselves. This is a life skill that some people have and some do not. A timid, shy and passive player is not going to win a lot of money at poker. You need to be assertive and aggressive in your playing style to win money. This has been true for as long as I can remember. Perhaps poker will evolve in the next decade where some form of trappy passive play is optimal, but I don’t see it happening. Being assertive is a necessary skill to have. It will enable you to control pot sizes, steal pots and execute effective bluffs.

Being a patient player will unquestionably help you in poker.

Being a patient player will unquestionably help you in poker. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

2) Patience

I simply have to mention patience when discussing transferable skills. Being a patient player will unquestionably help you in poker. It will ensure you are employing solid hand selection and not bluffing recklessly. Patience is sometimes the difference between a low and mid stakes player. One, is a strong player, looking to win every pot while maintaining a good win rate. The other is a little more patient, saving money on unnecessary bluff attempts and playing fewer pots from out of position. These two things could be the only difference between them and result in one earning thousands of more dollars every year. If you are patient, you have a skill many poker players take years to develop.

1) Ambition

Ambition is something the most successful people in the world have. Being ambitious will ensure you are striving to be the best and hitting your goals. It will serve you well in poker as it will mean you will do what is necessary to succeed. You will not rest on your laurels or become complacent. On the contrary, you will be dedicated to improving yourself and your game.

Look at the highest earners in poker, they’re all ambitious. They didn’t just win one tournament and think that is enough. They looked forward, aiming to do better and win more. An ambitious nature will also safeguard you from being satisfied with how you are performing. Ambition will mean you won’t let obstacles get in your way from meeting your targets. This life skill will help you profit from poker in the long run. If you are ambitious, you will develop other poker skills by necessity.
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