Poker Tips by George: Are You Having Fun?

By George Epstein
March 19, 2023

As you play poker, ask yourself this one simple question — Am I having fun? You are at the casino playing low-limit Texas Hold’em. You have been playing that game for many years. You have played in home games, but for the last 20 years you’ve played only at your local casinos, with occasional visits to Las Vegas. In the long run, you are a bit ahead. So, what do you say? Are you having fun?

What is fun? It is something that brings you pleasure or enjoyment. It can be an experience that is relaxing or exciting. It can be a form of recreation or diversion. It can bring cheer and joy to your soul. Fun is all those things, and poker certainly fits the bill; ergo, playing poker is fun.

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But there must be more to why I look forward to playing the game – why I value it despite the time and effort involved. Driving to the casino on the crowded freeway certainly isn’t fun. And the gas for my car is expensive these days. Certainly, it’s no fun to lose your money, and that happens a fair amount of the time. The fact is there are other reasons for playing poker, to which you never have given second thought.  Let’s think about them.

Social Interaction

Being involved with and interacting with other people has a significant impact on our social lives, and also our mental, emotional and physical well-being.

The benefits of social interactions include a heightened mood, less risk of depression, a sharper mind, and less likelihood to experience cognitive decline. For us retirees, as we age, staying socially engaged with others gives us a sense of belonging and a connection to the world. And playing poker does all this…

Mental Challenge

Competing in a game of poker is a real challenge. All our mental skills are called upon to make the best decisions – winning decisions. We are more alert and better able to deal with situations whether at the poker table or in daily life. And that makes us somewhat happier.

READ ALSO: Poker Tips by George: Social Interactions and Mental Challenges


I asked my daughter what she thinks is the main reason why so many people love to play poker. Her reply was brief and right to the point: “Because people love to gamble.” As players, we argue that poker is a game of skill. When you are skilled there is much less gambling involved. When drawing to a hand, we try to make sure that the pot odds are higher than our card odds against catching one of our outs. That’s like making a wise investment in a new business. But let’s admit it: The chance (probability) of connecting is against us. It’s much like betting on the horses or tossing the dice or playing slots to score a casino bonus online – pure and simple, gambling. Not all investments are profitable. Like it or not…

So, yes, there is the element of gambling involved. I’ve heard it said that poker is about 80 percent skill and 20 percent gambling. That seems reasonable. Indeed, we must recognize, no matter the extent of one’s skills, gambling does play a significant role. And, perhaps, that draws so many people to the casinos – along with the social interaction and mental challenge.

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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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