While pretty much everyone knows what the game of poker is, how it works (at least to a certain extent), and what it looks like, what few people know is how much it influenced our world culturally.

Even though the game was played at first only by relatively questionable characters like the bandits from the wild west, corrupted police officers, or wealthy gamblers of questionable morality, poker has increased in popularity in the past decades to the extent where it is now played by people from pretty much every layer of society.

People have learned that there is actually very little gambling involved in playing poker, and it became obvious that it is more a game of skill than anything else. This pushed more intelligent, skilled, and better-prepared people into trying their luck at the poker tables, and the game became a lot more competitive and spectacular.

So much so, that certain sayings that were once only specific to poker players have made their way through our vocabulary and have become commonly applied to different aspects of our lives. One of my favorites, and the one that is probably the most popular among people who don’t even play poker, is “playing the hand you are dealt”.

What does it mean to play the hand you are dealt?

While in poker, the meaning of the saying is pretty straightforward, meaning that you need to make the best of the cards you receive and try your best to win despite what the dealer gives you, the meaning goes a lot deeper in real life.

There’s another saying in poker, which focuses on playing your opponents instead of the cards you’re dealt. While it may seem unrelated, it is what makes this game the wonder that it is. Since 70% of the hands you will ever play will end without a showdown, it’s easy to understand why your cards are not that important. Whether you have the nuts or just make the opponents think that you do while you’re holding air, the result will be exactly the same if they fold.

Applying the poker principle of playing the hand you’re dealt to our day-to-day lives makes it a much more profound saying. The main idea is that life keeps throwing things at you and, just as you would in poker, you need to make the best of every situation. If you don’t want to see your stack bleeding out, you need to adapt to any situation and figure out ways to get back on top of things.

Playing poker teaches us many things. It teaches us to be patient, to handle stress, to keep our emotions in check, to adapt to all kinds of different situations, what to do when you’re short-stacked, and what to do when you’re ahead. All these lessons come in bite-size experiences from one hand to another.


What other sayings originated from the game of poker?

Since the game of poker has become probably one of the most popular card games in the world, there are quite a lot of other sayings that originated at the poker tables and have then been projected to day-to-day life. Here are some of the most popular and inspirational poker quotes and sayings that also have a lot of meaning beyond the poker table.

A chip and a chair

Jack Strauss once said during a poker tournament that all it takes is a chip and a chair. He was of course referring to the fact that he was left to play with a single chip after an unlucky hand and with that single chip, he managed to win the top prize in the tournament.

In real life, the same principle can be applied. As long as you’re still alive and breathing, you still have a chance to make something good happen, regardless of how unlucky you’ve been. All it takes is a chip and a chair.

If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, you are the sucker

One of my favorite poker quotes, with unknown origins unfortunately, says that if you play at a poker table and you can’t figure out who the worst player is in about 30 minutes, it means it’s you.

It’s the same in life if you think about it. We all think we are great before we start comparing ourselves with others.

A minute to learn- a lifetime to master

Another inspirational poker quote is saying that the game takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. And it’s one of the truest statements about poker I have heard. Yes, the rules are simple and anyone can understand them. But becoming good at the game and winning is a completely different story.

Applying this to our real lives, it’s easy to understand that it is basically true for almost anything. Most things seem very easy at first and even though we think we’ve mastered them, it turns out we still have a lifetime of learning ahead of us.

The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be

Like I’ve said many times before, there is no such thing as luck. Don’t get me wrong, luck does exist, I am not questioning that. But luck cannot play a role in everything we do, every time we do it. Nobody can be lucky or unlucky forever.

The more effort we put into becoming better at whatever we are trying to master, the less often will bad luck be involved. That’s because most of the time, even if we don’t realize it, we make our own luck.

Final thoughts

There is a lot of wisdom to gain from playing poker. As long as we keep an open mind, we can apply a lot of principles from the poker table to our real lives. And we will thank ourselves for it.

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