Poker vs Football (Soccer)

As you know, I have committed to losing weight and being more healthy, so I have recently joined two weekly football games to do just that. I have not played regularly since 2005 and even when I did, I was not a good player. In the weekly games I play now, there are some European and American players that are very good. Now I know how it feels to be a football fish. I constantly make mistakes, don’t really know what I am doing and even when I make a good pass or nice shot, it is because of luck.

One of my earliest posts was about poker as a sport. It is one of my proudest posts so click the link to read it. Like football, skills are very important. You may have watched the game hundreds of times on TV or YouTube but it doesn’t mean you can play it. The concept seems simple but it is harder than it looks. Passing is a basic skill that every player needs, but varying levels means the accuracy, precision, power, and types of passes differ from player to player. Just as in poker, betting is a basic skill. But when to bet, when not to bet, and how much, using which color chips, in which position, Hollywood or speech before the bet, etc will determine which level you are playing at.

I am also feeling the pinch when it comes to stamina. At my age, it is excusable if I am not in tip top shape, but I also don’t want to be huffing and puffing just after a little jog. No matter how skillful you are, if you can’t keep up with the pace, or last the entire match, you will be crushed. Often you’ll find late night poker is better than other games because many players are tired. It is less obvious when you run out of stamina on a poker table vs a football field. Some players push on without knowing that they are not playing optimally, their thought process is sluggish and they are prone to more mistakes and tilt easier. I guess like football, the more you play the more stamina you build, but you also have to take care of your body, be very aware of your mental state at all times and know your limits.

When we were young, no one wanted to be the goalkeeper. But at my age now, I gladly take that position to catch my breath. But I find that speed and reaction times are very important as a goalkeeper. Sometimes I see the shot coming, but my hands and feet don’t react quickly enough to stop it. This is also the same for poker players. Sometimes you are only allowed a short time to make decisions. I for one do not like taking too long to make a move, I like to balance my bluffs and values by taking the same amount of time. In some spots, what to do is pretty clear, but in others, it may require a bit more thought. There are “hacks” on how to make your decision quicker, and maybe I will write another post on that.

eat healthy food for poker stamina

I find that my football skills are lacking, but I am too embarrassed to ask for coaching. Right now I can only improve by playing, and only touching the ball maybe 20 times per night does not help me improve very quickly. Even if I were to get coaching, I can’t be practicing every hour every day. But with poker, you can. Even when you are not in the hand, if you pay attention to other players and how they play, you can learn a lot. Of course your skills will improve vastly if you get a coach, but you can also do self study at your own pace. One major difference between football and poker is your football skills will decline with age no matter what you do, but with poker it can continue to grow in spite of age.

In the last two football games, I had some minor injuries. First I used my hand to block an incoming shot as it was heading straight for my face. However the shot was so strong, it struck my arm so hard forcing it onto my jaw cracking my lip and also created an involuntary bite mark on my hand. This week I blocked a shot with my lower leg and now my ankle hurts when I walk. In poker, you might not think there is chance of injury, but I see injury as bankroll management. In some games you might lose a small chunk of your bankroll. So it hurts but you can easily recover. But if you lose discipline or take shots you shouldn’t, you can lose a big portion of your bankroll or even go bust. Like any injury, it takes time to heal. So if you had a bad run in poker, do not expect it to turn around over night. If you lost 1000bb, you can’t expect to win it all back in one sitting. Some people do, and try to force too much action and end up digging themselves into a bigger hole.

There is so much to learn about poker from my football games. It reminds me about my game and how I should continue to improve. I know the players laugh at me, and they would pick me last for their team. I am okay with that. I would probably laugh at them on a poker table too. I can’t be good at everything right? Right now I am super grateful that I do not play football for a living. Because if I do, I would be broke.