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Where to Use Your Poker Skills off the Felt

You may have heard (us say) that poker teaches you valuable life skills. But where can you apply these skills, it’s not as if you can raise when you get your bill at a restaurant! Consider these four situations that let you flex the muscles poker has given you...

woman in glasses interviewing man

You may have heard us say that poker teaches you valuable life skills. But where can you apply these skills? It’s not as if you can raise when you get your bill at a restaurant. Consider these four situations that let you flex your poker muscles.

Presenting a professional image

A professional appearance is more than sartorial. In many lines of work, a “poker face” shows maturity and composure. This isn’t to say that you should never show emotion at work, but in certain contexts it pays to maintain a neutral expression.

Say for example you’re a physician about to deliver bad news to a waiting family. As sorry as you feel for the family, crying while breaking the news might scare the patient. Similarly, if you are firing an employee you might be angry about their poor performance or empathetic that budget cuts led to their dismissal.

However, the respectful thing to do is to treat the employee the same regardless of how you feel. Live poker trains us to react internally and give nothing away unintentionally.

Schmoozing, selling, and interviewing

The other side of the chip to your poker face is the ability to read other players. Whether due to physical tells or patterns of play, most poker players will deviate from their standard strategy to take advantage of new information about their opponents.

Outside of poker, we use information about those around us to strengthen our relationships. Poker teaches us to be more perceptive about micro-expressions, timing, and anything out of the ordinary. When we recognize our boss or client exhibiting these behaviors, we can adapt to become more likable or understanding.

Something as small as taking a reassuring tone when a co-worker exhibits a soothing motion, such as rubbing their face to calm themself down, can demonstrate great leadership and emotional intelligence.

Investing and applying to new opportunities

In most poker game types, patience is a virtue. If you like playing Texas Hold’ em with a table full of players, the recommended strategy is to play an average of only 20% of the hands you’re dealt. Control over your impulses is extremely valuable in personal finance and career development.

You may want to limp pocket deuces under the gun (be the first to act.) You may want to chase your flush draw facing a pot-sized turn bet. But the discipline involved in making a boring fold is the same discipline used to hold index funds in a bear market, submit another job app following weeks of no responses, or work towards your master’s alongside a full-time job.


Poker is a game of control — you want to make sure you are in charge of the actions. At any moment in a poker hand you want your opponent to think you have the opposite strength hand that you truly have, such as folding when you’re bluffing or calling when you’re strong. Negotiation is similar in that while you don’t want the other party to think you want the opposite of your true intentions, you want to keep your cards close to your vest.

Negotiation is a prime example of game theory (the core of poker) in action. Explore Contract Theory for a thorough understanding of what academia deems optimal negotiation. You have to be credible, signal that you’re resolute, and structure the deal such both parties have incentive for the deal’s success. Betting in poker shares some of these elements. Your bets have to make sense and you need to stay balanced in your strategy so that other players can’t run you over. You want to make your opponents indifferent between their options, so that you win in the long run regardless of what they do.

If you want to learn more about translating your poker experience to the workplace, join our community poker lessons. Take your seat at the table and experience the power of poker for yourself today.

Poker Power is for educational purposes and does not permit gambling in our clubs. No poker experience is required.

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