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The Big Poker Takeaways from Game Of Thrones this week

With only one day left for the Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5 to air, let’s take a look at the lessons last week’s episode had for us. Especially for us poker players.

Monday had most of us gaping open mouthed  followed by a mix of euphoria and confusion as the *spoiler alert* Night King, the most feared chip leader in the Game of Thrones universe was taken down in a stunning turn of events by Arya Stark, a deadly assassin but also an underdog. (She’s a proven fearsome warrior, but we were NOT prepared to have her kill the Night King, right?)

This was especially surprising because no one was really expecting this to happen so soon in the series, probably not even the Night King himself.

But let’s get back to poker.

In many ways the Night King, also known as the God of Death, is akin to the God Of Tilt in poker.

Tilting is a state of mental or emotional confusion and frustration that descends on a poker player when nothing is going their way and it leads them to adopt a less optimal strategy on the poker table to win. Tilting is also, of course, greatly feared by poker players.

There are 3 big lessons that the episode taught us poker players.

Lesson number 1 : Anyone can be defeated. Period.

The biggest lesson that Monday’s Game of Thrones Season 8 episode 3 taught us is that anyone can be defeated. No matter how big a table bully your opponent might be, no matter how formidable their reputation may seem, no matter how big their stack is, if they don’t read the table right, they’re going to lose.

I mean.. Did anyone of us see it coming?

Poker TakeAway#1 :

Often we begin the process of tilting, ourselves, by continually overthinking the ‘famed’ prowess of the chip leader  or a known champion that we find ourselves up against. You need to believe in yourself and not get intimidated by them. Everyone has a tell, everyone has a weakness and a moment of overconfidence that you can identify and exploit to your advantage.

Believe in yourself and ship it!

Lesson number 2 :  Keep calm, keep your wits about you and own your decisions

Arya went to the battle, nervous about what was going to happen, but confident in her ability to deal with anything that is thrown at her. She kept her wits about her, took down every wight and white walker as they came, recalling every bit of the training she had as No One. In the end, she is the one who takes down the Night King who never did see her coming at all.

Poker Takeaway#2:  

As a poker player  you can calmly decimate your opponents on the table one by one, by observing how they play and adapting you game accordingly. It doesn’t matter who you are, or who you’re up against. If you are able to not let the bully affect your game and are able to keep your wits about you, YOU CAN SHIP THE TOURNAMENT, especially if you’re hopeless and have been tilting due to bad beats doled out to you. All it takes is one hand, one tell, and a whole lot of patience to plan how you’re going to play it to make a difference.

Lesson number 3 : Never let your guard down or underestimate a new player

The Night King had sauntered into the Godswood, chilling like the villain he is, ready to knock off Bran, another table favorite who’s game we absolutely haven’t been able to read ( probably that’s why we can’t figure out what he’s doing in the final season( table) of Game of Thrones. Both of them have such brilliant poker faces, BTW, don’t you think?)

He thought he was playing with Bran, an opponent whose mind he probably had access to. He had already intimidated Daeneyrs by walking out unharmed and smiling when faced with direct dragonfire. Jon has always been easy to intimidate with all the reanimated dead men, so..

The Night King didn’t take into account the other players in the game and so, couldn’t foree the hand that Arya Stark played, resulting in his exit from the Game of Thrones.


Poker Takeaway#3 :  

The key lesson from all of this is that you need to be very aware of every minute detail and not let your guard down at any cost during a game, especially during the FT period. Never underestimate a new player or let your guard down while playing against someone you’ve never known before.

Game of Thrones has quite a few lessons for us poker players if you look closely.

We’re really looking forward for tomorrow’s episode to watch what happens next and apply the lessons to poker.


Team 9stacks



Prashaste Sinha

Prashaste lives to eat and write. She's our very own homegrown poker sceptic who's gone on to enjoy her stint with poker and loves writing and interviewing people who are passionate about poker and life.