7 Lessons Poker Taught Me About Dating

poker and dating

Believe it or not, women don’t find it sexy when you spend 7 hours a day playing online poker.

I know this from experience, because while my poker skills and profits increased greatly throughout my 20s, I was a total fish in the dating world.

Aside from mild banter in live poker rooms, poker is a solitary affair that doesn’t allow you to build a rapport with women. And as for the women that I did meet, it wasn’t exactly like I could discuss advanced poker topics with them, like fold equity and triple range merging.

Luckily, I eventually applied some general poker concepts to my dating life in my mid-to-late 20s. Thanks to the fact that I’m happily married today, I can honestly say that the following 7 poker concepts are very useful in the dating world.

1. Read Your Opponent…or Your Date

Much is made about reading opponents in poker. And while looking for nervous tics and obvious tells like they do in poker movies is overrated, you can learn a great deal by studying your opponents’ body language (live poker) and betting patterns.

Analyzing betting patterns won’t apply to your date, but watching her body language most definitely will.

Some of the obvious signs that a woman is into you include:

– Points her feet towards you (opposite: not facing you).
– Subconsciously touches (fixes) her hair.
– Leans in to talk to you.
– Finds excuses to touch you.
– Looks at your lips.
– Turns her palms up (opposite: clenched fists).
– Puts her arms by her sides (opposite: crosses her arms).

If you can spot a few of these tells in your date, then it means that she’s attracted to you on some level.

2. Focus on Good Decisions – Not Just Results

No two women are alike. While your charming personality may impress one woman, another may see you as a try-hard, people-pleaser.

In this case, don’t overcompensate with your next date by referring to your bench press, and how many guys you’ve almost fought in pubs. Instead, focus on being the best version of yourself and making smart decisions on dates – not the result of each one.

I learned this from poker, where there’s a strong tendency to focus on how much money you win or lose in a session. The problem with tying your self-worth to wins and loses is that poker has a luck element to it, where poor cards, bad beats, and unpredictable opponents can make for rough individual sessions.

In poker, the mathematically correct decision is the right one.

Dating isn’t quite so robotic, but just realize that you can’t control all of the factors (woman’s personality, tastes, dislikes) in every single date. Go into each one with an open mindset and stay true to yourself.

3. Work on Your Skills

Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to figure out that you can’t win in online poker with crazy bluffs and sheer luck. If you want to earn long-term profits, you need to work on your game by studying strategy.

Some of the basic poker concepts that you must learn to improve include: table position, hand odds, pot odds, bluffing, bet sizing, and creating opponent profiles. It’s also extremely important to analyze your play after each session to see what you did right and wrong.

The more you learn and apply from poker strategy, the better player you’re going to be in the long term.

Like poker, dating results also improve with effort. If a girl doesn’t want to go out with you again you can review what went right and wrong in the date(s).

Additionally, you can do things to boost your chances from the get-go, such as learning texting skills, improving your appearance, upping your sexual abilities, and pursuing more dates on social media.

4. Change Your Playing Style to Fit the Situation

Many poker players adopt a style in the beginning and stick with it no matter whom they’re playing. But as you gain more experience with the game and become more comfortable, you’ll be better able to adapt to the situation.

This all begins with knowing your playing style. From here, you can figure out how to change your style to fit the situation. For example, you may be a tight-aggressive player. But if everybody else is sitting back and waiting for good hands, you can become loose-aggressive to steal small pots.

The same flexibility should be used in the dating world when you find a woman that you like, and immediately get a read on her personality.

Yes, I know that in Tip #2 I mentioned staying true to yourself. But if you’re around a more conservative girl, you can at least resist the urge to talk about your favorite UFC knockouts and how much pot you smoke.

5. Exercise Good Bankroll Management

Without proper bankroll management, you won’t last in the poker world – no matter how good you are. It’s critical that you choose the right stakes for your bankroll so that you can last through poor sessions and downswings.

I wish that I’d applied this concept sooner to my dating life, because I was more than willing to overspend to impress dates.

I once spent over $1,000 on clothes and apartment decorations to impress a hot girl that I started dating. This relationship lasted three weeks, which really hammered home the importance of managing your bankroll in both poker and dating.

From then on, I stayed within my means when going out to meet women and also when taking them on dates.

6. Know when to Fold and Move to the Next Hand

In poker, there’s a term called pot committed – this is a situation where you’ve invested so many chips into a hand that proper math dictates you call no matter what.

This is not, however, the same as following bad money with more chips just because you’ve already put lots of money into the pot. A good example of this would be if you have top pair, but a really tight player suddenly starts betting like they have the nuts.

In this case, you’re almost certain that you’re beat and it would be foolish to even risk another pound. Sometimes you just have to know when to fold a hand, no matter how much you’ve committed to the pot.

The same can be said of dating, where you might dedicate weeks or even months to a relationship, only to know deep down inside that it’s not going to work. Rather than continuing to invest more time into these relationships, you should fold your hand and put more time towards finding someone who’s truly right for you.

7. Keep Your Poker Face and Stay Cool

Another popular poker concept is tilt an emotional state where players make poor strategic moves when things aren’t going their way. Bad beats often spark tilt, while outside factors can also influence bad poker decisions.

Dating is no different; one or more gaffes with a woman can accelerate your bad decisions and make you look like a jerk. Here’s an example on how these problems can compound:

  1. She tells you what she does for a living
  2. You forget and ask her later in the date what she does.
  3. She gets agitated and gives you attitude.
  4. You start giving her attitude back and drinking more, which leads to further assholish behavior.

Who knows…she could’ve been the one for you, but you exacerbated  the problem after making a mistake. In a case like this, you could instead apologize immediately for your mistake and put it down to nerves.

The key is to stay cool, keep a good poker face, and not let a blunder here or there ruin a potential relationship. Even if things aren’t going great due to a conflict of personalities, you can gracefully admit so and roll with the situation until your date is over.

Final Thoughts on Poker and Dating

l Poker and dating don’t have a direct connection. But if you’re a poker player, then you can use the same concepts that you learn from the game to jump-start your dating skills. Some of the aforementioned tips that were most helpful to me include: reading your date, improving yourself, self-analyzing, focusing on smart decisions, and adapting to the situation.

About the author Patrick Banks

Patrick Banks is an entrepreneur, full-time dating advisor, and total health & fitness freak. He provides tips on how to exercise and eat well, boost energy and feel confident in your own skin. He believes a healthy body and successful social interactions are two main keys to happiness.