“Tell the truth.” We’re taught that from a very young age, by parents, teachers, relatives and anyone attempting to instill a degree of moral fortitude. However, as we all know, the truth hurts both others and ourselves and, as we grow older, we must learn to rapidly balance the damage of truth against a lie and also the benefit.
Indeed, it’s a widely accepted fact of social interaction that a degree of dishonesty must be employed in order to maintain harmony and civility. If an acquaintance asks how you are in passing, they’re not expecting you to actually tell them about your recent digestive issues and, likewise, how many friends have you told their babies are cute?
Henry Taylor, the British statesman, once said,
“Falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood on all sides that the truth is not expected to be spoken”
These falsehoods, employed for the sake of gain or saving the feelings of others, can go by another name: Bluffs.
Lexico defines bluff as “[being able to] survive a difficult situation by maintaining a pretense” and reveals the origins of the word:
Late 17th century (originally in the sense ‘blindfold, hoodwink’): from Dutch bluffen ‘brag’, or bluff ‘bragging’. The current sense (originally US, mid 19th century) originally referred to bluffing in the game of poker.
So, what can we learn from the world of poker to make our lives better? Can a game of guile, chance and fortune help us to live better lives, form better relationships and achieve our goals?
Be selective with your bluffs
The best poker players won’t play every hand they’re dealt and you shouldn’t either, it makes you too easy to read. It’s better to save your bluffs for those moments that offer a better chance of a return, either for you or someone else.
Know when to walk away but also know when to stretch the truth to attain your goals and the goals of others around you and to protect peoples’ feelings!
Don’t spread your bluffs too thin
The more people you bluff, the greater the chance of being found out. Limit your bluffing to relatively small groups of people and you’re much less likely to be found out.
Bluffing with large groups of people increases the risk of exposure, so balance the likely reward or saving with the difficulty of spinning multiple plates.
Don’t bluff the inexperienced
Basically, don’t take advantage of people!
Also, bear in mind that those with less experience or capacity to understand the adult world are more likely to call you out, as their perception of truth and honesty (and how their bending can benefit themselves and others) is not the same as yours.
Half bluffs are handy too
Ever find yourself in a situation where you’re not totally in the dark, but also not totally clued up? These moments call for the half bluff.
A prime example of half bluffing might be to cover your partial knowledge of popular culture. For example: You might find yourself at a bar with a group of friends who are ploughing their way through the Game of Thrones book series – If you’ve only seen the TV version then you can join the conversation and appear knowledgeable, even though you’re own only operating with limited information.
So, you’ve probably figured out by now that the answer to this articles titular question is, “Yes, poker bluffing is useful in day to day life” and you probably do it more often than you think or even know!