A long road in Salta, Argentina

Transferable Skills of Poker

What follows below is mostly taken from the original version of my website I wrote last November when I quit poker and began focusing full time on my next move. I used it as an extension of my CV that enabled me to talk more about the transferable skills of poker & how I could apply them going forward. Creating it was without doubt one of the biggest contributors to making that transition happen so fast. Here’s why:

    • It helped me clarify to myself what skills I had developed.
    • I gained confidence from seeing that I had plenty to offer potential employers. Since the time I wrote it, it’s been a key factor in getting me through the door more than once.
    • Of course I learned some handy web development skills in the process. I actually created a first draft of the site pretty much from scratch before switching to a more professional looking template.The site also gave me something to experiment on when I later got into web analytics. 
    • After a few months of doing a job I no longer had passion for, I rediscovered the feeling of working at something for 12 hours a day and waking up the next morning eager to get back to it.

Analytical Skills

Critical thinking

The ability to quickly and precisely assess different scenarios, judging important factors and anticipate future decisions is crucial in poker. I also applied this mentality away from the tables in evaluating outcomes, my performance and competitors.

Understanding Human Behaviour

Deducing why your opponent took the decisions they did based on their actions is vital in adopting the correct counter-strategies going forward. Every action your opponent takes reveals information about the way they think, especially if they reveal their cards at the end of that hand.

Creativity

A logical mind is well suited to poker, but being creative is important for longevity in a constantly changing environment. Unintuitive approaches are often necessary in taking decisions at the tables that feel wrong but are backed up by your work away from the tables. Innovative approaches to productivity and training are also important for sustainable success as a professional.

Quantitative analysis

The idea that poker is about reading people’s minds and bluffing them is a falsehood. My success has been forged using sound poker theory and data analysis to examine my game and gain insight into opponent behaviour and thought processes

Numeracy

From expected value calculations, using in-game statistics on the fly, to managing of funds and much more. This stands me in good stead for a job that requires any decision-making or judgement based on probability or data.

Risk-reward

Every decision in poker involves the implicit weighing up of risk and reward using probability and the price you are being offered. This scenario analysis, ROI based approach has become habitual and is easily transferable to business.

Personal Skills

Self-starter

Taking the leap to becoming a professional poker player obviously requires conviction and confidence in your ability to be a successful self-starter. However, the reality is that you need to have the drive to take responsibility for every aspect of your work. This includes amongst other things: your hours, productivity, finances and training.

IT skills

Professional online poker involves the daily use of poker analysis software. Though these specific programs won’t be of use in the world of work, this familiarity with analytical software is a useful skill.

Adaptability

Ability to adapt to different opponents and challenges when situations present themselves demonstrates skills in flexibility. Playing multiple tables of poker requires you to think on your feet, plan ahead and make alterations to plans based on new information. Successful player keep up with trends in play and the latest software tools available in a young industry that evolves quickly. It’s also common for poker players to have experience living in and adapting to life in different countries. I lived for a year in Madrid and six months in Buenos Aires during my career.

Learning

My passion for learning and drive to progress is one of my strongest attributes. Up to a quarter of the average work week has been dedicated to studying for poker. On top of my individual work I’ve collaborated with other professional players in two private online groups that had weekly Skype meetings, been a member of multiple poker training sites and hired three coaches during my poker career.

In an upcoming blog I’ll talk more about how I adopted sports & performance psychology techniques to ensure peak performance and consistent improvement.

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