It's a Guy Thing

Key Principles to Learn from Poker

Requiring no more than a few players and a deck of cards, poker has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. The game’s predecessor, ‘poque’ was originally brought to the United States by 18th century French settlers. 

After spreading south, the most popular variety, Texas Hold’em, developed in the Lone Star state during the early 1900s. A 1969 tournament hosted by The Dune casino catapulted modern poker into the mainstream, where it has remained ever since. 

Although poker has historically been played sitting around a table with friends, online has added another avenue. Online play pits contestants from around the world against each other for the chance to win real money playing Texas Hold’em

How to Play Texas Hold’em

Poker’s simplicity has contributed hugely to the game’s popularity, with it being very easy for new players to pick up. 

A game begins with each player being dealt two cards that are only visible to them, known as ‘hole’ cards. Players can then check, bet, raise or fold depending on how strong they perceive this initial pairing.  

Afterwards, three cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table before another round of betting commences. A further card is then succeeded by another round of betting before a final card and concluding betting round.  

Each player uses their individual cards alongside the community cards to construct the strongest possible five-card hand. 

A Royal Flush is the strongest possible combination. It features five cards of the same suit ascending in value from 10 through to ace. For newer players, the most challenging aspect of getting started is remembering the respective card strengths. These don’t take long to learn and it’s easy to get the hang of after just a few rounds.

Although lady luck ultimately chooses which cards are dealt, the deception and mental fortitude necessary makes playing poker extremely skillful.  Not only do professional players who’ve mastered their poker face exist, they can earn millions yearly through global tournaments.

The World Series of Poker hosts the world’s most popular annual tournament, with 2022’s winner taking home $10 million. Second place received $6 million, whilst even third place left with a life-changing $4 million. 

Even for the average Joe, playing poker fosters many important transferable skills, the most useful of which are listed below.

Decision Making When Under Pressure

Even playing casually with friends can turn extremely competitive, with the desire to best your pals fueling significant pressure. This is only intensified by the addition of real money stakes, resulting in poker being a nerve-wracking affair. 

It’s important to remain unperturbed and composed, as the pressure can force errors that spell disaster for your game. Poker teaches us how to cope in these situations, and ensure every decision is thoroughly considered. 

Many retired professionals move seamlessly into extremely high pressure jobs, such as finance. 


Every avid poker player will vouch for the need for patience. Good players understand that waiting for a perfect opportunity is more profitable than unnecessary risks too soon. 

The occasional Hail Mary is always welcome, but more often than not patience will be a player’s best friend. Consistently bad hands may mean a player has to do nothing but fold for long periods. 

Rather than becoming overzealous and playing a poor hand, it’s best to remain patient and wait for favorable cards. It’s often said that patience is a virtue, an adage especially true in poker.

Probability and Risk vs Reward

At its core, poker is very much a game about probability. Players can put themselves at an advantage by remembering which cards have already been dealt.

This is called card counting and allows a player to deduce the probability that their competitors have a strong hand. The best poker players, who’ve mastered card counting, have a good understanding of probability that gives them a firm advantage. 

Playing poker will also provide us with a deeper understanding of risk vs reward, and our personal risk profile. Some may be risk averse, whilst others more risk loving. By playing and understanding when to take risks and when to be more reserved, we can obtain a balanced risk attitude. 

Emotional Control and Understanding

Masking our emotions is essential, including concealing the disappointment of a bad hand, or the glee of an excellent one. It’s equally important to hide the frustration of countless bad hands and the feeling that luck isn’t on your side. 

The ability to conceal emotions hone’s a deceptive poker face, which can be a player’s biggest asset. Constant exposure to other players attempting to conceal their own feelings makes us better able to read true intentions.

Poker Is More Than Just a Game

With an inception dating back centuries and spanning continents, poker is a game that’s brimming with history. As well as being extremely fun, the skills learnt whilst playing are applicable to many facets of life.