Poker is often viewed as a game of chance, but in reality there’s quite a bit of skill involved. In addition to the obvious benefits of learning how to read other players at the table, poker also teaches you how to control impulsive behaviour and how to analyse situations on the fly. This is a useful skill in any endeavour, from business to sport.
Poker teaches you how to calculate odds quickly. You have to be able to work out the probability of getting a certain card, or whether you should call or raise in a given situation. The more you play, the better you become at this type of quick maths. It’s a great way to improve your mental arithmetic, and it can come in handy outside of the poker room too, for example when making decisions on the fly while travelling.
Another crucial skill poker teaches you is how to read other people’s body language. This can be a real advantage when playing the game, as it means you can pick up on subtle tells that your opponents are bluffing or holding a strong hand. It’s something you can use at the poker table, but it can be a useful skill in other areas of life too, such as when trying to sell a product or persuade someone to do something.
You’ll also learn how to read the board and what cards have already been played. This is vital if you’re aiming to win more hands than your opponent. You can then adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, if you see that your opponent has a flush and you have two pair, you can fold – or you could make a big bet to try and steal the pot.
Finally, if you’re good at poker, you’ll be able to judge when to make a fancy play. This can be a fantastic way to force weaker hands out of the pot, and can boost the value of your own hand. A well-executed squeeze play can be a devastating weapon, but it’s important to know when to employ it.
One of the biggest mistakes that new poker players make is bouncing around in their study schedule. They watch a cbet video on Monday, then read an article about 3bets on Tuesday and a podcast on tilt management on Wednesday. This is not the best approach to improving your game as it’s difficult to ingest so much information at once. It’s better to focus on studying a single concept each week, and then move on to the next. This way, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned much more quickly at the tables.