Maybe you’ve heard this tired poker cliche: “you got so lucky!” Some (bad) poker players focus on short-term luck rather than long-term decision making, and many people believe that poker is all a game of luck. This simply isn’t true.
Poker is a game of skill with elements of chance, which is what makes it exciting for players of all abilities. Owning your success in poker, business, or competition can build your confidence and contribute to future success in all areas of life.
The “Confidence Gap” between young men and young women contributes to both pay inequality and job dissatisfaction. A recent study in the Harvard Business Review has shown that while women outscore men in most leadership skills, women don’t feel as confident as men until they turn 40.
So how can you own your success and feel emboldened to take strategic risks?
Measure Your Success
If you can quantify your success in objective ways, you’ll know you were not “just lucky.” In poker, this can take many forms. When you play online poker you can use a tool called a “Heads Up Display” or HUD to track your results on some poker sites.
Pay attention to stats like big blinds won per 100 hands played and all in EV (Expected value – your average chance to win across all instances you were all in.) A poker player’s success is predicated on their expectation in the pot, not the result that came after their chips were in the middle.
In live poker you can track your return on investment in a large sample of tournaments/cash sessions, or you can see how fast you’ve progressed up the stakes. And either online or in person, note the difficulty of opposition you’re facing. Breaking even against excellent players can signify greater success than winning against beginners.
Yes it’s glamorous to close the multi-million dollar deal, but that’s not the only important or measurable way to contribute. Have your accomplishments gone beyond what the typical employee would have achieved given your opportunities? Have you been able to influence others without authority? Has a teammate really nailed their project because of your mentorship?
Ultimately you may not be able to isolate your contributions from your company’s progress, and that’s ok. Performance reviews, responsibilities given to you, feedback, and your relationship with your supervisor can all be telling indicators of the success you’ve earned.
Grow From Your Success
Once you’ve got the skills to hold your own in a variety of poker games, the sky’s the limit. You can travel the world playing on cruise ships or chasing circuit events. You’ll meet fascinating people and form strong friendships through your niche but sophisticated common ground. Throughout your journey, you’ll reach milestones that overwhelm you with emotion and make memories to last a lifetime.
Poker can be a transformative experience that liberates you to be entrepreneurial and introspective. The insights that thoughtful poker players achieve are transferable across many domains of life: you’ll thank yourself later for learning the game now.
When you’re considering whether to bet big on yourself, remember a variety of achievements from your past. If you ran a marathon, wrote an 80 page thesis, or taught yourself a new language, draw upon that success for faith that you have the discipline and ingenuity to succeed in your next venture. Surround yourself with friends who will build you up and remind you why you’re a rock star when times get tough.
You can leverage your previous successes to put yourself in impactful positions. Don’t hesitate to put your GPA on your resume or to mention how you drove a 35% year-over-year revenue increase. This was not lucky; acknowledge what you have achieved and never sell yourself short.
Just like getting lucky, you can get unlucky. Let’s say you applied to 6 law schools and didn’t get in, even though on paper you had a 25% chance of getting in to each of them. Does that mean that applying to law school was the wrong decision? No! Poker teaches us to think of risks in terms of expected returns, not in terms of worst case scenarios. And the more you reflect on your successes and own your victories, the more comfortable risk-taking becomes.
Confidence and risk-taking are skills you learn and build playing poker. Enroll in a free Poker Power class to start owning your success!
Written By: Sam Anschell
Poker Power is for educational purposes and does not permit gambling in our clubs. No poker experience is required.