The centuries-old card game of poker is enjoying quite the resurgence in the 21st Century. Online poker is now one of the most popular global gaming verticals, and the game has been scientifically proven to boost brain health and even rewire certain regions of the brain.
Poker is also becoming increasingly linked to self-development, particularly when it comes to making more effective decisions, coping under pressure, and improving overall performance in the workplace. The game has become the subject of a number of best-selling books, including Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets and Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff, and not just for its entertainment value.
It certainly seems that learning to play poker can have a transformative effect on key areas of a person’s life, even if they never quite reach the stage where they win that huge World Series of Poker Main Event prize. Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which this discipline can improve your productivity, and possibly even give your career a boost in the process.
Decision Making is Key
Whether you’re managing a full team of employees, or yourself as a solo entrepreneur, the key to being productive during the work day is to make good and effective decisions. Think about it. During an average workday there are all manner of decisions that you need to make. If you’re managing a team, decisions need to be made about the delegation of work and how you’re going to make use of resources; whereas working from home alone requires you to decide how you’re going to use your energy, which particular tasks you’re going to focus on each day, and how you’ll break up your time.
So how exactly does a discipline like poker enable you to make better decisions in the office? Central to poker strategy is the philosophy that if a player makes good decisions – the rest will follow. If a player were to focus purely on the results of every game they played,they’d probably quit after those first few losses – which would be a big mistake. However, a savvy player who instead focuses on the decisions that they’re making during the game will play better each and every time, and be able to instantly recognize the less-effective decisions they’ve made along the way.
This can be applied to workplace decisions too. Ask yourself if you’re making objectively good decisions. If you’re continually making good calls, you’re on the right track to becoming more productive than ever.
Focus and discipline will keep you in good stead
Procrastination is the number one killer of productivity, especially in the workplace. Unfortunately, losing focus and discipline, and becoming distracted by insignificant tasks is all too easy, and it happens to the best of us more often than we’d like to admit!
So how can poker keep you focused, especially since you can’t exactly break a pack of cards out the moment you get distracted in the office. Well, to paraphrase pro player Freddie Gasperian, mastering poker and making it profitable first requires you to “master patience and discipline”. During a poker game, the margins between winning and losing are so fine that switching off for even a moment can cause the most experienced player to lose the game. Poker players need to stay sharp, focused, and disinclined about maintaining a routine that will enable them to play at their best.
Applying this to the workplace is pretty self-explanatory, but it does require a shift in mindset as well as daily habits. Be more conscious of the times in the day when you find yourself drifting, and factor in a simple activity that will help you get your concentration back. It could be something as simple as taking a water break, or going for a short walk if you can leave your desk or you work from home.