When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes applied himself to a difficult case, he famously utilized his powers of deduction. Holmes assembled and examined the facts before him and employed a ...View Article
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Posted on 07-25-2017
In today's society, we tend to think in terms of right or wrong, maximizing or minimizing - polarizing thoughts at each extreme. However, there are too many unknown variables that makes arriving at an easy decision difficult to do. We thus make what we think are Optimal Decisions, decisions we think that is best based on the information we've gathered, our perception, logical deductions, and awareness of the given situation.
The skills listed above are skills of intelligence, thinking skills. Most of us think that being smart is gifted, we're either born with a lot of it, or little of it. However, any skills can be cultivated through consistent iterations to form habits; and in this case, intelligent habits. Would it not be nice to have some classroom/lab setting to express iterations of these skills so that you can cultivate them? Let's make a case for why poker is a good place to hone these skills.
At its core, poker is a game of making Optimal Decisions based on imperfect information. Even if you make the right decision, you may still get punished and lose. Conversely, you can make the wrong decision and be rewarded for it. Sometimes, things just do not work out the way we intend it to be. So how do you know if you have made a good decision or not?
Good decisions are in and of themselves, and not because of the results from them though most outcomes tend to be the results of our decisions. In order to make good decisions, we must be thoughtful and intelligent, utilizing many skills that a good poker player uses:
Awareness: You must maintain a total awareness of what's going on at the poker table, situationally, mentally, and emotionally. The more you are aware of what's going on, the better your decisions will be. Not only must you know what your opponent is most likely thinking and feeling, and what you are thinking and feeling, but you must also know how they relate to each other at the current moment. Therefore, you must always be in the NOW moment, and in order to do this, you must consistently be observant.
Perception: In a game of poker, people are in their rawest form and show who they really are. There are financial gains and losses that brings out the best and worst in people. We display our thought processes, emotions, tendencies, and habits. A good player can pick up subtle information to help them in their decision making. Good players are also perceptive enough to weigh and discount certain information based on other things they are perceiving. This makes reality a subjective thing as each player perceives things differently. What's going on to one player can be totally different to another player. A solid player has a higher level of perception and discernment to really see what is going on.
Logical Deduction: Rarely in a hand does a player have 100% of the information needed to make an informed decision. In most cases, a player must use context clues from the information he has gathered along with the given situation in a hand and make a deductive reasoning and come to a logical conclusion. The player must make a good decision and understand it so irregardless of the results - they are not result oriented, though their results (the money) tend to be the validation long term.
All the above skills are used consistently in a poker game in conjunction with each other, and the good players are able to make the most optimal decisions in the hands that they play more often than not. Given enough iteration and practice, any player can cultivate these skills to some degree. Likewise, consistently utilizing these skills in life can only bring about better mental wellness.
Poker is a microcosm of life, with the environment shrunk down to a poker table and the variables of life are narrowed down to the players. Learning how to play poker translates a lot to life. You will better understand people. You will be more mentally disciplined. You will learn how to make better and well informed decisions, and have a higher sense of awareness not only of your world and of the people in them, but way more importantly, a total sense of awareness of yourself - self knowledge and mental wellness.
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