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presidential candidates. Donald Trump is the choice of the Republican Party, Hillary Clinton of the Democrats, and others like Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party will be on the ballot as well.

As far as we know, none of them are professional poker players. Research shows none of them have Hendon Mob profiles, nor do they have any history in the cash games at American casinos or card rooms.


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The professions of the four main candidates are a bit different than in the past. Trump is a lifelong businessman, Johnson was a businessman before going into politics in 1994, Clinton was an attorney before pursuing politics, and Stein is a medical physician who only eased into politics within the past eight years. And none have played more than a few hands of poker in social circles.

Why would a poker pro make the best president? Let’s take a look at the most important of the reasons:

Money Management

money_rollA poker pro never experiences long-term success until they master money management. A person not only knows how much is in his or her bankroll at any given time but rarely risks more than 10% of it in a game or on a tournament buy-in. Understanding the fluctuations of the game, the upswings and downswings, and the expenses involved with every aspect of it is part of the grand scheme of always being able to play. If it requires lowering the stakes to stay in the game, so be it. The player must be able to stay in the game.


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A person running a nation may take the job without that bankroll in good shape, but it should be a priority to slowly but surely get closer to implementing that 10% rule.

Studying the Game

To my knowledge, there is not one person in the world who plays perfect poker. Every player who keeps up with the changes in the game and new generations of players does so through an ongoing study of poker. The best players not only study their own play and hand histories but also those of their opponents by taking notes during games, watching training videos, reading books ranging from strategy to mindset topics, and talking to other players.


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A US president should never rest on his or her laurels but always be willing to listen, learn, and improve the overall understanding of all people in the country and issues in play.

Emotional Control

Any player who regularly succeeds in poker must be able to control their emotions. A little tilt every now and then is natural, but being able to express it while remaining respectful, honorable, and classy is part of gaining respect from others. Showing any type of emotion to some extent is showing one’s own humanity, but too much anger is just as bad as exhibiting too much joy at the expense of others’ misfortune. Learning how to control all emotions at the table – even while walking away from the table and discussing it later – is a part of positively representing oneself and the game.


World leaders should also be able to maintain a reasonable level of calm in any situation, setting a good example for all citizens and being a trusted and reliable president.

Reading the Tells of Others

A key part of playing poker, even in the online world where tells are much harder to recognize, is being able to gauge the playing style and trends of opponents. A solid player spends much of his or her time at the table watching everyone else, whether to spot tells, analyze others’ plays, follow the emotional ups and downs of opponents, or to simply be aware of surroundings at all times. Of course, a key component to reading others is being able to adjust one’s own plays to fit each situation, but it is all dependent upon the feel and action of the table. A player who is aware of everything around them is more likely to be able to stay in control.

The US president should be able to read everyone from constituents to members of his or her staff, and from political opponents to other world leaders.

Selection Balanced with Risk

One of the most important lessons every poker pro learns is the importance of selection, starting with choosing the right cash game table and picking the right range of hands to play at the right times. Playing position also requires selection of opportune times to take advantage of various positions at the table. And for tournament pros, so many options require a great deal of planning and consideration to decide which to play. Combine that with the need for selective risk-taking in order to capitalize on opportunities, a poker player has to exhibit sound judgement.


It may seem that good judgement is an obvious quality necessary in the leader of the free world, but there is more to it than the occasional good decision. Every move a leader makes should be carefully calculated based on experience, common sense, bankroll management basics, the dangers of taking risks, and the potential benefits versus harm.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.