Playing Poker Can Improve Your Decisions

Poker is a card game with a lot of chances and risk. Players put in chips, called a blind or an ante, before they are dealt cards that they keep hidden from their opponents. On each turn, players may either check (pass on betting), call (match the previous player’s bet), or raise (bet more chips than the last player).

Those who play poker know that a strong hand is worth much more than one with low value. But the skill to determine the strength of a hand isn’t just in intuition, it’s also in knowing the math. For example, if there are four spades in the pack and a player has only two, they’ll have a flush.

But the most important skill is risk management. As Just learned as a young options trader in Chicago, if you see your odds of winning a hand diminishing, it’s time to fold.

Maria Konnikova, a psychologist and writer who has written on decision-making, thinks that learning poker can be an effective way to improve the quality of your decisions in life — from everyday choices to major career choices. She began playing poker as a hobby, but found that it had helped her understand uncertainty and make better choices. It’s something she suggests that all of us should try.