Insights from Poker: Tips on Becoming Better at Everything

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash.

Spoken word audio — podcasts, audiobooks, and radio — reveal something interesting about people. Based on the 2021 spoken word audio listening trend, 75% of people in the US over the age of 13 (or around 212 million people) are monthly spoken word audio listeners. Respondents turn to spoken word audio out of a desire to be better, look at things differently, and find meaning in an otherwise “surface-level” digital world.

Growing and improving as a person has become a priority for many of us. We seek out sources of inspiration from everywhere, and one increasingly popular source of inspiration is poker. The game has been used by everyone from entrepreneurs to athletes as a tool for self-improvement. Poker has a lot to teach us on how we can be better at everything. Here are three tips to consider:

Dare to do things differently

Amateur poker players often get attached to certain cards, even when there are signs to fold the hand. While having a favorite starting hand isn’t necessarily a bad thing — many people have one — this inability to change courses is a disadvantage. Professional poker players clinically and carefully assess the situation to change strategies as needed, so their flexibility (along with cold logic and math) allows them to win the game. It’s rewarding to be dynamic in a game of poker.

Likewise, you need to experiment with how you do things to be truly great. It’s important to brainstorm for ideas that can offer more value or insight so you can stand out in your field. After all, we’re living in a world where information is at our fingertips, so we need someone who can use that information to innovate. Organizations often encourage creativity among their workers to maintain a creative edge, but this leaves employees at the risk of going against rules or inviting criticism from colleagues, which is why many people are afraid to push their boundaries. The trick is to ask which processes exist for quality control and compliance, and what can be done differently for progress to happen.

Study up on your game

Curiosity for creatives is an incredibly valuable practice. As we mentioned before, it’s an effective stance from which to explore the unknown. Detached and genuinely interested curiosity is a great neutralizer, especially when everything is clouded by harshness and judgment. Moreover, it’s a good attitude to build because it inspires further learning. This curious spirit separates casual poker players from passionate ones.

The rules of poker may be easy to understand at first, but many professional players have to study complex strategies, hand rankings, probability, and bankroll management to truly master the game. Fortunately, there are many audio resources in the modern poker landscape, which can help you study the game. In life, you don’t have to stop learning just because you already have a job. Actively find ways to stay on top of your industry, or venture out to learn about new ones. Whether it’s through reading or talking to people, lifelong learning means you’ll never get left behind.

Pay attention to feedback

The beauty of learning from individual poker hands is that you get instant feedback on your play. You know what works, and what doesn’t win you the pot. This gives you an idea of what to do for next time. Getting regular feedback similarly moves you closer to your goals. Improving in a skill is a loop, where your first attempt is followed by feedback, so you adjust and try again. We gain useful feedback through our environment or from experts who have studied a particular skill for a long time.

Studies also tell us that feedback and certainty go hand-in-hand. The positive or negative reactions we receive in response to an opinion, task, or interaction are more likely to reinforce our beliefs than logic, reasoning, and scientific data. This means we shouldn’t be reliant on feedback alone; we must combine feedback with observations we amassed over time to be truly effective.

Contributed post by Faith Burrows.