Did you know that playing Poker can actually teach us a host of different skills from budgeting through to opportunism? If you know or you’re learning how to play poker then you’re actually developing decision-making skills at the same time. In poker you are constantly making decisions based on a range of factors, some you can quantify and some that rely more on the judgement of people – you don’t last very long at a poker table unless you can consistently make good decisions! Here are 7 tips for decision making which we can learn from playing poker.
Taking subtle cues from others can help in decision making. In poker we have to judge how our opponents are planning to act; are they bluffing or are they sucking you into a hand? Good players will mix up their tactics and keep you guessing. One way to get an edge is to read their body language and look out for tells. A touch on the nose or a raised eyebrow can go a long way to aiding your call. The ability to absorb these small cues and really get inside the head of other people is a useful decision making skill.
2. Calculating Risk
Calculating risk is a huge part of poker and a great help when it comes to making big decisions. Some people love risk, whereas some prefer the steady approach and only play when the odds are stacked in their favour. Knowing odds at every stage of a hand is a vital skill. Without the ability to understand the chances of making a good expected value bet it’s almost impossible to consistently manage. The habit of allocating odds to different decisions is a formidable skill.
3. Work Under Pressure
We can all make good decisions whilst lying horizontally on a desert island listening to the soothing sounds of waves coming to and from a white sandy shore. But 99% of our decisions are made in more pressurised environments such as at a busy roundabout, in an intense boardroom, in front of close family or friends, or at a poker table when your chips are down. Being able to think clearly at the poker table in uncertain situations, many hours into a game with a lot of cash at stake will hone your ability to operate under pressure.
4. One decision at a time
We all have to live with our decisions and whatever comes along in tandem. But a great tip to take on board is to not let previous bad decisions tilt your next call. Sports coaches often lament the lack of a game for 7 days to make amends for a poor performance. In poker, unless you’ve taken yourself out of the game you’ll have another decision steaming its way towards you. Deep breath and a clean slate, make sure that next decision is the right one.
5. Be Flexible
In poker knowing how to play well is often a matter of flexible thinking, instead of having very defined tactics they use broader fundamentals to approach a game, which allows them to be flexible in their approach. Instead of having a very strict if x happens I will do y they will be able to consider a range of factors before coming to a decision. The ability to be flexible in decisions is important in many complex fields and the decision making complexity will hone this skill.
6. Use Time Well
Taking a certain amount of time to make the right decision is not always possible but you should never be rushed into making the wrong choice if you don’t have to. Often poor poker players will not take their time to take everything into consideration – from their cards, statistical analysis, to chips in the pot, and they will be drawn into thoughtless knee-jerk decisions. Always use what you’ve got and more. There’s a host of information on a poker table which can aid that choice, and always be thinking and observing – not just when it’s your turn.
7. Take Control
Sometimes you’ve just got to make a decision when you’d rather not. Maybe it’s too tight to call or you’d much rather someone else was in the hot seat. Either way, we all have to make those decisions and poker is a great way of putting yourself in those situations. Just making a decision and living with the consequences can be much better than not making a decision in the first place and taking what comes.
Poker and decision making have always been synonymous with each other. From the pressure of making a decision in front of others to staking a large amount of money on an outcome, you can’t be 100% sure of! By playing poker you’ll soon find yourself immersed in the business of decisions.