If you were to tell me poker would have changed the course of my life and career years ago I would have looked at you and laughed. It was something that never crossed my mind and I didn’t even know how to play the game. It was so far off of my radar, and you get the picture.

But I eventually would learn the game and even create one of the top poker podcasts in the world, Poker Pod Radio. I played the game and learned it had very little luck, but more strategy and skill than you could ever imagine. In a hand of poker, your brain is on high alert running calculations of outs, chip stack counts, bluff, reverse bluff, wet or dry board, baseline player actions, what do they have that can beat me, and that is for starters. You can be so zoned in that you can actually know what two cards a player is holding down to the suit. Plus as a podcast host, I got a close-up view of the top players in the world, the ones that won millions of dollars in tournament earnings or in one event. I know the game at the pro level now and played in massive events.

While I was in the game I noticed that my thought process had changed away from the table in my everyday life. I could spot bullshit immediately and just pick up on a negative vibe from someone more than I could before. A pre-game baseline is where you observe someone before the game begins so that you can see what they do above when they are in a hand. It shows what the tells are, for instance, if they have a good hand I can see the breathing pattern change, or see their eyes fidget when they are bluffing. This baseline allows me to see who a person is. I can spot mannerisms on the fly and know if I should even deal with them.

I have become analytical because of the math processes that are used in the game. You think and process calculations extremely fast and make the best decisions possible in fractions of seconds. I learned to do this because I trained my brain to do so within the game itself by understanding everything I was looking at and how fast I could predict a positive outcome. This has allowed me to see things very clearly when presented to me from the jump. I can look at it, flip it every which way, and determine if it’s good or has potential that is beneficial to me or those around me.

There are times when I have to “tank” which in poker means to slow down the thought process and really look at what is in front of me. I do this when it looks good, but is it too good to be true scenarios. It teaches you patience. You may not be delt the cards in life that you are immediately searching for, but they do come in time. And if it is taking too long you switch gears, change it up, just like getting up from one card table and moving to another for better results.

It has shown me how to be laser-focused on everything that I do in life today. I’ve had those bad beats where I lost all my chips, as I have in life by losing it all, but most importantly it taught me to learn from it. I look at the mistakes I made in both regards, and move forward away from it as we should all do in life. Don’t sit and dwell on what was. Learn from it and create in the now for the prosperous future that we each desire.

Life isn’t a game at all. It’s a process of watching and growing, just like poker.