Though there has recently been a dip due to the pandemic, college enrollment is still historically high in the US. More than 16.6 million students attend colleges across the country, studying and learning the skills that will carry them into a hungry workforce for new people to join it. This makes college a more critical time than ever in the lives of young people.
Not only do people learn about their chosen discipline while at university, for many, but it is also the first time they’ve tasted absolute independence from their parents. Living on their own, sometimes a long distance away from home. There are countless lessons to be learned outside of classes and numerous different avenues to learn them.
Poker might not be an obvious route to learning about life for the average college student, but plenty of poker players used the game to help them through their college years. Professionals like Doug Polk, who has become a central figure in the Las Vegas poker scene and the 2020 effort to recall the city’s mayor, got their start while attending college. The game offers numerous lessons for young people experiencing that first taste of independence, even if poker doesn’t eventually become a career.
We’ve got a few examples if you’re curious about what can be learned at the poker table rather than in the classroom.
College can be a challenging time for people. Though we think it is essential to at least consider attending a higher education institution, that doesn’t mean that living on your own for the first time isn’t stressful. Add on the pressure of maintaining grades and possibly getting a part-time job, and it is easy to see why so many people struggle during their college years. It takes a particular kind of emotional resilience to succeed at college, which can be gained from poker. Strength is all about being able to encounter problems and setbacks and work through them constructively, something that every poker player has had to do. Between getting stuck with a lousy hand of cards or finding that even good cards weren’t enough to win, players must quickly process those negative emotions and work through them to succeed at poker. The same strategy is helpful for college students.
That first taste of independence comes with a lot of responsibility, especially for the money. Just like it can be tempting to spend all their money for the semester quickly, poker players need to focus on budgeting their bets to make sure that they can play further into the tournament. Poker bankroll management is one of the most critical skills that most professional players cite as being overlooked by new players. This focus on budgeting and, more importantly, restraint, especially when faced with a big-spending opportunity, is also crucial for college students, who might have access to their own money for the first time. Learning to make sure they have enough money to pay for rent and food each month is perhaps the most crucial lesson that poker can teach these students.
Expanding Your Social Circle
A big part of college is making friends and networking. Many friendships that last for a lifetime can be forged during these years. Not only is poker a game of chance, but it is a highly social game. You’ll spend several hours with your fellow players, speaking about your challenges and successes, even as you try to figure out if they’re bluffing or not. Beyond developing an ability to read people, which can be helpful in any industry, it is also good to get that chance to speak with people with a shared interest. Besides, you never know when your old poker buddy from college will end up in a position to help you land that new job or promotion one day. Whether in college or the corporate world, it simply doesn’t pay to be shy.