At first glance, these two things might seem worlds apart. One is a delicate and fragile construction where even the merest blunder might set off a disaster, and the other one is a card game. Still, as strange as it may seem, there are quite a few similarities between playing legal online poker and delicate political negotiations.
Even the most oblivious of the laymen have heard of bluffing. It is a practice where you try to convince your opponents that you are in a position that is quite different from the real deal. Bluffing in poker means that you want the people at the table to think you have the best cards, or the worst cards, trying your best to persuade them to either fold or keep playing.
Bluffing is a must-have skill in political negotiations too. You don’t want the people ready to prey on you to realize the state of your resources. If they get a read on you, they will push their own political and economic agenda on you that you will not be able to fight off.
Low-level poker tournaments and petty inner-party fights are similar in that there is not much to be gained if you win. As you progress as a politician or a poker player, however, you will find more and more masterful opponents and, with them, the stakes rise as well.
The risks become much more precarious the further you climb. Each new level allows for fewer and fewer mistakes and, when you reach the top, you must tread very lightly indeed. Every poker player and prominent politician knows there is a lot to gain and even more to lose when you reach the top. Once you get there, however, it’s open season.
It is not enough to bluff. You must also be able to recognize when the other person is bluffing as well. What do they have? What are their long-term goals? What do they hope to achieve with this particular move?
If you are good at reading people, then you can try your luck at either poker or politics. Just remember that the information you get out of your inspection might be handed to you by your opponents on purpose. There should always be a healthy dose of paranoia when reading someone, emphasis on ‘healthy’.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, a little bit of paranoia is good. However, paranoia that is out of control is beyond bad. If you are not careful, you will soon start believing that everyone is out to get you and will become easily manipulated to make the very mistakes you were trying to avoid in the first place. Beware the terrible TV trope “I knew that you knew that I knew that you knew….”
Compassion (Or Lack Thereof)
Consider this: if you are a type of person that wants to remedy the social issues or just have a little bit of fun playing cards with your friends, good on you. However, both politics and poker can be very cruel. It is not uncommon for people that have little to no empathy to become the most successful in either one. This is due to the fact that they control their own emotions much more easily and have no problems manipulating the people around them to get what they need. If you are not careful, these people could potentially eat you up.