7 Ways in Which Poker is a Microcosm of Life

By George Epstein
August 25, 2021

The game of poker is a miniature version – a microcosm – of life. We face all sorts of challenges during our lives, complicated by uncertainties and risks, and promises and rewards. They all have their counterparts in the game of poker. There are strong similarities, and here are seven of the most striking.

life and poker


In life, when the rewards outweigh the risks, you are bound to succeed in the long run. That’s what the three laws of probability are all about. Likewise, in poker, with a drawing hand, whenever the pot odds are higher than the card odds against making your hand, you are favored to win that pot. Otherwise, you are gambling – and bound to be a loser in the long run.

Skill vs. Chance (Luck)

In poker, as in life, there are almost constant decisions to be made. If you have the skills to make the wisest decisions, you are bound to come out ahead for the most part. Trusting to luck – as in gambling, makes you an underdog. Interestingly, the skill vs. luck issue is something that was hotly debated among officials when determining legal gambling regulations in Pennsylvania and other states. Here’s where you can read more about that.

Return-on-Investment for a Positive Expectation

You have a Positive Expectation when your investment (bet) earns a profit over the long run. That is essential to success in both life and poker.

Education for greater skills

In both poker and life, you have some control over your education. Learn what you can to best develop your skills – be it in the office where you work or at the poker table. One great place to start is at some of the best poker training sites.

Starting hand selection

In playing poker, the most critical decision is selecting the starting hands before investing your precious chips in the pot. Most players are anxious to get involved – too anxious. As a result, they are prone to play weak hands which generally lead to losing their chips. The smart player, the well-skilled player, is more discerning and cautious. To be best prepared, you can use the Hold’em Algorithm or available charts to facilitate and make your best decision. Losers depend more on luck. So it is in life: wisely invest your time and money.

Grow your winnings

Playing poker, you can build the size of the pots you win. It takes skill to do so. Toward that end, there are tactics you can use – slow-play, check-and-raise, and bet for value, among others. In a similar manner, you can find ways to outdo your competition as you build your career – get that promotion and salary increase or earn a bonus. Be prepared and plan ahead. Seek favorable opportunities.

Know your competition

Study your competition be it in life or at the poker table. Observe the types of players you are up against – tight, loose, passive, aggressive or deceptive. Learn to read their hands and their tells. Then you can make the wisest decisions in your favor. In life, your career success may depend on it.

Indeed, the game of poker is a microcosm of life. Be a winner at both for a happier life.

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George Epstein

After a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for […]


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