Life As A Game Of Texas Hold'em

by Paul Hudson

While you were in your high school math class, learning and studying — or so I would presume — I could be found in one of two places: either under the staircase with a female friend or playing Texas Hold’em poker with my Korean friends. Koreans do love their poker. I don’t play much anymore, but I do have a solid 8 years or so under my belt.

There is a lot to learn from poker and gambling. In a way, poker perfectly depicts the workings of the world and life itself. You get dealt a hand; it could be a great hand or it could be an awful one. Then, then comes the board — or the remaining cards that you get to work with.

You combine what you are given (your hand) with what situation manifests itself into your current circumstance (the flop, turn and river). Similarly in life, you are presented with a situation while wielding whatever skills you have managed to cultivate up to that point. You have a hand to work with and have to make the best out of whatever situation comes your way.

The first thing that you have to do when you are dealt your hand is to decide whether or not it is worth investing the initial investment (matching the blind or any raise). You have a goal — to win; that much you know. Now, you have your first opportunity to make that happen. However, you likewise have the same chance of losing it all.

You must decide how much you want to invest while keeping in mind that other players may raise the stakes. Let’s say that you are competing for a promotion. How far are you willing to go to get that promotion? Will you be willing to invest it all? Or half? More importantly, are you willing to match the time, effort and hard work that your competition will put in? If yes, then you call or you raise in hopes of scaring away your enemies.

Round one is complete and you put in your initial investment. In cards it is chips or money. In life it is time, money, other experiences, other ventures and an endless list of things that you may be trading in, in order to reach your goal. Are you willing to devote all your time to your work and risk losing some of your friends?

This is the beauty of Texas Hold’em — you don’t just have one round of betting, you have three. In life you will not be deciding whether or not you are in or out only once; you are likely to be going over the decision in your head alongside new developments. This is where the turn and the river come into play. You get two more chances to reassess your position and figure out whether or not your hand still stands a chance of winning and whether or not you want to continue fighting for the gold.

The interesting thing about poker and life is that the best hand does not always win. There is always a chance of losing, and being dealt a great hand only means that you have better chances — you never have a guarantee. Unfortunately, being dealt pocket aces is useless against a guy that hits four jacks. You must play each hand according to what life throws your way.

You may feel that you have a shitty hand, but hit a monster on the flop. Likewise, you may be somewhat skeptical to date Steve, wondering if you two are compatible, but after four months come to realize that you are falling in love. In fact, the biggest wins are usually those won by the underdog getting lucky.

Luck plays a huge part in life. You can prepare yourself to the best of your abilities but find yourself in a situation that is beyond your capabilities. A lot of things are out of our control and all that we as people can do is our best to survive and come out profitable in the end. Everyone gets lucky from time to time so we must not throw away an iffy opportunity if the risk is something that we can afford.

It really is about playing the hand you are dealt and understanding the situation that you are getting yourself into. If you believe yourself to be beat, then it’s best to fold and live to fight another day. Always make the best out of every situation and understand that no matter how bad the hand you are dealt, there is always a circumstance where you can turn that hand into a bar of gold.