I remember reading somewhere more than a year ago that poker changes you. Poker alters your outlook on life, your perspective on the value of money and your decision-making.
I'm sure it's different for everyone, but poker -- like everything in life -- becomes a part of what you are. There's no denying that it has an impact.
For me, there are plenty of benefits. Because I play poker, I have a better perspective on the expected value of life. When it comes to making a decision, like asking a girl out or taking a chance -- I think of the costs and benefits, and I make the most +EV decision. Many times, there really is so little to lose and so much to gain that it makes sense to pursue a long shot because you just might succeed.
As for the value of money, I'm not one of those players who thinks that you have to forget about the real-world importance of the money once it's in the form of chips. Of course, to some extent it's important to disregard how many pizzas or what kind of bills you could pay with the money you're gambling with. But I believe that if you treat chips only as pieces in a game, then you run the risk of playing poorly because you don't care about making the right decision. Dealing with the pressure of playing with your own money is a large part of the game, and making optimal decisions for the good of the bottom line is what the game is all about.
Understanding of variance is another perpective-changing lesson of poker. Sometimes the cards run good, sometimes they run bad, but if you keep making the correct choices, you will come out on top.
There are plenty of pitfalls as well -- the potential of gambling addiction, the chance that you will lose, the time away from real life that you spend at a poker table instead.
As long as the pot odds remain in my favor though, I plan to keep playing.