When it comes to inspiration, musicians are used to looking everywhere. Creative ideas can come from life experiences, other art, and even dreams. The world offers endless sparks for musicians to put into their performing, teaching, and more. Technical musical skills come mainly from practicing the craft. But beyond that, there are connections between musicianship and one of the world’s most popular games.
Poker holds secrets to mastering the art of being a musician. Playing the game can be a casual hobby and sometimes even a professional identity. No matter how you think about it, poker offers lessons that connect directly to being a musician of any genre.
Professional musicians face constant pressure to keep practicing, creating, and promoting. At times, feeling under pressure doesn’t mix with patience.
Patience is one of the most understated virtue in the music industry — essentially because it eases that pressure. Poker games are slow, success rarely comes quickly or immediately, and skilled players take methodical, far-sighted approaches. What better way to learn patience?
2. Social Savvy
Ten thousand hours spent in a practice room can hinder some social skills. But performing well isn’t enough to succeed. That’s why a social network for musicians makes sense. Networking is crucial to musicians making it in a challenging economic market.
A casual game of poker with friends makes for practice with banter. A serious one with other competitors makes a player better at non-verbal communication. Simply put, poker is a game that makes you better at dealing with other people, which can only be a positive in the music world.
3. Recall & Mental Sharpness
Musicians have to keep themselves mentally sharp. Memorizing lyrics or entire pieces, choreography, and names when networking are a few skills that musicians need. Each requires quick and accurate recall, often in distracting environments (like crowded show venues or high-pressure studios).
Poker is an effective way to sharpen that recall. While poker players react to the moment, they are also planning ahead. Masterful poker players make mental notes on other players. They also learn to be fluent in the game’s extensive poker terms. Reaching that level in poker can certainly teach you a thing or two about staying sharp.
Musicians who perform learn how to interact with crowds while staying calm and focused inside. It’s a trait that’s risen to the surface a little bit in the industry of late, given that some musicians are actually taking to guiding meditation.
Similarly, in poker, being calm is a crucial strategy to win. Good players become adept at maintaining a steady, peaceful state, regardless of what’s happening on the table.
When thought of individually, poker and musicianship don’t necessarily have a lot in common. When compared side by side though, it’s clear that more musicians should take up poker. By doing so, they can acquire the skills they need beyond their craft to make it in the world.