We hate to admit it but the fact is that poker isn’t for everyone. While some make a good living from the game, others need to step away from the deck entirely. But how do you know if that’s you? Read on to find out why poker could (potentially) be wrong for you.
You have an addictive personality
Poker is without doubt a thrilling game comprised of elative highs. Couple this with the prospect of winning life-changing sums of cash and of course, there’s the potential for immense addiction. Especially if you’re someone who has a habit of forming addictive attachments already. Whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs or otherwise, if you know yourself as someone who finds something they enjoy and then latch on for dear life, perhaps this game isn’t right for you.
Still, if you’ve started playing, how do you know if you’re addicted or just simply dedicated? Firstly, most responsible poker enthusiasts have some form of financial system in place. This system is comprised of strict rules around how much you’ll dedicate to poker and where your cut-off limit is. The surest sign that you have an addiction is when you begin breaking your own financial rules. If you find yourself wagering endlessly and uncontrollably, despite a lack of wins to refill the coffers, it’s a definite sign you may be addicted. Further evidence can be reassuring yourself that a win is imminent and then overextending your finances to claw back what you’ve already lost. Furthermore, if you find yourself constantly trying to gather funds, purely for poker, you may have crossed the line into addiction.
Still, not all signs are financial. Some are harder to spot as they often mask themselves as the commitment to the game. For instance, if you find yourself constantly neglecting personal duties, events or people in the name of playing poker, you could have an addiction. Alternatively, when a loss affects you so much that that severe frustration creeps into your personal life, it’s an indicator that the game may have too much of a hold on you. If any of these signs look familiar, perhaps consider stepping away from the game and seeking professional help.
You have a busy schedule
Poker is by no means an easy game to master. Those at the top of their game have spent years pouring over poker research to fine-tune their playing ability. These are people who have been playing for nearly a lifetime. As a newbie to the game, you’ll have to dedicate even more time to your craft. Now, if you’re content to be a casual player, you can get away with playing a few hours every week - but don’t expect to make any money from it. If you intend on taking the game more seriously, you might have to look at that overpacked schedule and decide, in advance, what’s going to take priority. Now, we’re not suggesting you give your life to poker but you should think of it as a serious career. That means taking a realistic approach to your overall schedule. If you're a full-time parent with a full-time job and a hectic social life, you most likely don’t need another demand on your time. That’s ok! However, if you can look at your schedule and strictly carve out significant time each week to practice your game, success is one step closer. Like any appointment or job, think of these times as non-negotiable. Don’t cancel your practice or game because a friend drops by for a coffee. Likewise, don’t completely neglect your non-poker activities and connections in favour of the game. If you find that you are unable to set concrete times for play and responsibilities and stick to them, poker may not be the game for you.
You find it hard to manage finances
It’s understandable to watch professional poker players win big on-screen and assume they have that income regularly. Yet, in reality, life as a poker professional isn’t that lucrative or glamourous. That’s not to say there isn’t money to be made, but wins can be infrequent and unpredictable. If you’re dedicating yourself to being a professional poker player with no other source of fixed income, you’ll need to resign yourself to this fact and prepare for it.
Thus, if you’re someone who has financial commitments - be it bills or those who depend on your income - you need to manage your finances carefully. If you’ve fallen foul to poor financial planning in the past, we’d suggest you look at this before you even dare pick up a deck of cards. Big wins come with the temptation to go on a spending spree. However, professional players know how to keep these urges in check. If you intend on taking on poker as a career you need to start thinking of yourself as a business owner. Therefore, that win is carefully divided across your poker budget, bills and commitments for the next few months. After all, you don’t know when the next big win will hit. Do you think the temptation would be too much for you in this particular scenario? If so then, unfortunately, it may be time to play for smaller stakes and step away from the game.
You’re highly impulsive
Overall, many of the traits we’ve discussed come under the umbrella of impulsivity. Be it financial or emotional impulsivity, it doesn’t mix well with poker. Yes, we all have those moments of reckless abandon where we go all in on a bluff and feel electric with the thrill. However, if you’re prone to emotional outbursts then not only will you most likely show a poor poker performance, the game may not be good for your overall life. The term ‘poker face’ is known around the world because it’s one of the most important tools a player holds. The strength of a player's poker face can serve them when even the worst hands are dealt. Given the potential high-stress scenarios in a game of poker, anyone prone to emotional or impulsive outbursts will be easy pickings for skilled players. Furthermore, poker is chiefly a strategic game, intended to be well thought out. Impulsive gestures happen but these plays rarely work unless they’re paired with some form of skill or significant luck! If you know yourself to be a highly impulsive person, it may be best to skip poker in favour of a different pastime.