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Invaluable Business and Life Lessons I Learned Playing Poker In life, you have to play the hand you're dealt.

By Mikhail Alfon Edited by Jessica Thomas

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Everything I know about life and business, I learned from my time playing poker. I spent almost three years on the felt as my primary source of income. It was definitely a grind, and I was clearly not good enough to play professionally long-term. Poker has now taken a back seat in my life, but the lessons I learned at the table will stay with me forever.

I've always believed that poker was a microcosm of life. Now, in the middle of building 7twelve, I truly understand the value of playing thousands of hands of Texas Hold'em. Much of how I approach my business and my life has been shaped from countless hours at the table. Here are a few business and life lessons I learned.

Related: How to Succeed in Business Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Your outcomes are determined by the quality of your decisions.

The best you can ever do is play the hand you're dealt as well as you can. The future is always changing, and you can't help when bad cards fall. What you can control, however, is how well you play the hand. You can minimize losses and maximize gains as long as you continue to make great decisions.

Taking calculated risks can lead to huge payouts.

No matter how good your cards are, there are very few times when you're 100 percent guaranteed to win. The trick to business, life and poker is to "gamble'"at the right time -- when the odds are in your favor. Taking calculated risks takes patience, knowing your strength and a hell of a lot of heart. Be sure you have all three when you put your chips in, because in the event something doesn't work out you'll have to pick yourself up and try again if you want to succeed.

"You can't lose what you don't put in the middle, but you can't win much either." -- From the movie Rounders

Related: 3 Ways You Block Yourself From Being as Successful as You Can Be

You play your best with a clear head.

I used to play cards almost every single day, and I realized that taking a few days off allowed me to really think about my game and play better the next time. Whether you're in a relationship or running a business, be sure you give yourself some time to breathe. That time in the clouds will allow you to execute more effectively in the trenches.

Patience is the key to success.

I used to sit around for hours without getting a decent hand to play -- and yes, it was definitely frustrating. The pots weren't big, and the action was slow -- what poker players like to call "a grind." What I discovered over time was that patience allowed me to be in better situations to invest and thus increasing my chances to win.

How do you learn patience? Understand that every micro-decision you make, like whether to play a hand or not, is leading you toward that end goal if you make those decisions correctly.

Related: How Patience and Control Drove This Entrepreneur to Success

After every session, I'd recite hands and situations as if I were still sitting at the table. Collaborating with my coach and being honest with my mistakes -- because I knew I made them -- allowed me to play better in future sessions. Everyone makes mistakes, and no one plays perfectly, but the ones who truly make the effort to learn from their mistakes are the ones who win over time.

Mikhail Alfon

Co-Founder/CEO of Blue Light Media

Mikhail Alfon is the co-founder and CEO of the Orange County creative marketing agency, Blue Light Media. He also hosts the Oversharing Podcast and is the author of Digitally Designed coming in the Fall of 2020.

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