Poker players develop a range of transferable skills at the tables. But can these give you an advantage in other popular strategy games?

Today, we'll investigate how your poker skills can boost your board game strategy.

Let’s compare the most popular board games and see how poker hand rankings strategy figures into the mix.


Say poker was one of those fantasy games using flamboyant skill trees to show the development of your character. ‘Logic’ would undoubtedly find itself in the ‘passive’ section of a poker player’s skillset since it’s at the heart of almost everything in poker.

Whether calculating pot odds, interpreting betting lines, or studying hand ranges, poker players sharpen their sense of logic at the tables.

They hone skills that will give them an edge in strategy games like Cluedo and Outfoxed.

Cluedo player interactions to solve a murder – much like poker.
Cluedo player interactions to solve a murder – much like poker.

You've probably heard of Cluedo (also known as Clue) since it’s one of the most iconic board games ever. But if not, it’s all about using player interactions to solve a murder – much like poker.

Cluedo is a multiplayer game of logical deduction, misdirection, and luck. The goal is to be the first player to determine who committed the crime, what they used, and where the deed occurred.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, ‘It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candle stick,” Cluedo is what they’re referencing.

So, why might poker players have an edge at Cluedo?

Firstly, Cluedo is all about using logical deduction to assemble a cohesive story. This process is something poker players master during countless hours reading poker boards.

More significantly, however, Cluedo centres around incomplete information. Poker players are very familiar with this concept as they deal with it in every hand. All the unknown information in poker forces players to make logical assumptions from the start.

So, poker players develop excellent problem-solving skills by playing the game.

For example, if a player raises UTG at a 10-handed table, poker players instinctively begin calculating their range.

  • They consider their stack size, tendencies, and player type.
  • They eliminate weak hands like 56o 23s and 79o.

It’s instinctive and the first step in a chain of calculations. This process forms the basic premise of hand reading, which is all Cluedo is in reality.

Players gather new information to process.
Players gather new information to process.

Players gather new information to process with every subsequent bet, raise, fold, or check. They use this information to make increasingly more informed assumptions about their opponents' ranges.

It’s a process that requires a lot of brain power. Yet poker players do this so often that it becomes effortless. All this experience arms them with unparalleled skills of logical deduction.

Cluedo is a lot simpler than poker. So, a grinder’s ability to efficiently assess a range of unknown possibilities in a poker board game gives them a significant advantage.

It enables them to make reasonable assumptions about Cluedo and what cards players are holding to solve the murder as quickly as possible.

Note Taking

Online poker players also develop concise tagging and note-taking systems to save time when playing. This skill lends itself very well to Cluedo. At the start of a game of Cluedo, players receive a piece of paper and a pen, which they can use to make notes about players’ guesses.

This process is a bit like making reads in poker.

With all the information tossed around, it can be easy to lose track of things. An efficient note-taking system helps a lot, especially given the format of the Cluedo notepad, which is a little cosy, as an estate agent might say!

Poker players can develop a Cluedo system by using the same tags and shorthand systems in their note-taking at the tables. This system will allow them to work through the information quickly and smartly.

An efficient note-taking system helps a lot.
An efficient note-taking system helps a lot.

Cluedo do is a race, after all. So, working quickly while everyone else is wading through pages of scribble will help you win more often.

Mafia and Werewolf

Poker hands are much like stories: They have a beginning, a middle and an end, which means poker players become very experienced at telling stories. Good poker players work hard at telling believable, consistent stories when bluffing with their bet sizing and betting lines.

  • Bluffing is an integral part of the game. If the story doesn’t make sense, nobody will buy it.

Players learn to notice the slightest inconsistencies in a story. It becomes a subconscious skill, a twist in the gut, leaving them feeling uneasy whenever a story doesn’t quite add up.

Behind most hero calls is a player who couldn’t ignore the feeling.

We’ve already discussed how hand-reading skills can be helpful in a game like Cluedo. Combined with a heightened sense of detail and adept bluffing poker combo reading skills, players can be formidable Mafia or Werewolf combatants.

For those unfamiliar with these two games, the easiest way to think of them is a bit like a role-playing version of Cluedo, but way more intricate. The two have some differences, but both games begin by giving each player a role card.

Players must work together to determine who drew the mafia or the werewolf cards. If they don’t, the werewolves and mafia win.

Mafia and Werewolf
Mafia and Werewolf

Where do the poker skills come into it? Well, both games have multiple discussion rounds of 5-10 minutes. All players gather and use any information they have on players to decide who they think is the enemy. After this, the players vote and eliminate the player with the most votes from the game.

In this round, poker skills can really come into play.

Lying, misdirection and persuasion are the name of the game here!

Poker players can use their skills to read and manipulate the other players. If they are a werewolf or mafia, they can use their attention to detail to identify (or exaggerate) potential inconsistencies in other people’s stories and divert attention away from themselves.

Likewise, they can use their bluffing skills to stay calm and composed under pressure and make sure their stories are watertight.

Mafia and Werewolf are two enjoyable party games, and it’s no surprise that they are popular with poker players.


Poker players are very good at managing their bankrolls and assessing financial risk vs reward. These skills are helpful in games where players take risks – like 3 card poker - or make financial choices.

For example, in a game like Monopoly, there are many opportunities to buy properties, win auctions or make deals with other players. 

  • Is it worth buying the electric company?
  • Should you spend your $200 on a railway?
  • Is putting all your houses on one property silly?

A poker player will be more likely to assess the risk strategically and make the best choice instead of just impulsively buying everything.

Let’s consider the trading part of Monopoly, in particular. This spot is perfect for poker players to use their strategic instincts to strike deals in their interests.

We’ve all seen an Old Kent Road bidding war get out of hand. A poker player’s understanding of risk and reward should help them to take better financial risks than their opponents.

A poker player’s understanding of risk and reward should help them in Monopoly.
A poker player’s understanding of risk and reward should help them in Monopoly.

Poker players are often ruthless when it comes to winning. Some Monopoly players will make poor trades to get the game going or give another person a chance.

Poker players are far more likely to go for the kill and avoid emotional mistakes.

Connect 4

Connect 4 is a game where players take turns putting coloured (usually yellow and red) disks in a 7x6 slot grid. The aim of the game is to complete a diagonal, vertical or horizontal line of 4 before their opponent.

The game comes in many different shapes and sizes. You can find it everywhere, from toy boxes and kindergartens to fast food restaurants and trendy bars.

Unlike poker Werewolf, or Cluedo, Connect 4 is a game of complete information. It’s more like a simplified version of chess than poker. Many people use it as a fun way to kill a little time or settle a bet.

Any edge you can find will come in handy, even if just to impress your friends at parties.

But in a game so simple, can your poker skills help you to come out on top more often?

Given that the poker industry has shifted towards a more GTO style of play, the answer is probably yes.

GTO stands for game theory optimal and is basically an unbeatable poker strategy. In short, the strategy does different things at perfectly-balanced frequencies, making it impossible for you to lose.

If you were to play a GTO strategy, the only thing they could counter it would be GTO poker too, in which case you’d end in a tie.

This scenario sounds like the end of poker. But, thankfully, the game is incredibly complicated. So, GTO poker is only possible for humans in theory. Nonetheless, there are computer programs that can calculate GTO strategies easily. So, modern poker players spend a lot of time studying to get their game as close to GTO as possible.

Players focus on the most common situations to maximise their time.

Two things make GTO poker so complicated:

  1. Players have a lot of freedom to act on each turn, with the ability to raise, fold, call or check.
  2. Players can choose whatever betting size they see fit, adding more complexity to the game.

On top of that, players are dealing with unknown information, which is not the case in Connect 4. Only seven possible moves are available because there are only seven rows a player can use.

Connect 4 is a game of complete information.
Connect 4 is a game of complete information.

The game tree is far less complicated since Connect 4 is a much simpler game than poker. In fact, Connect 4 has been 'solved' since 1988.

James Dow Allen became the first player to do so, even with the limited computer power of the era. Nonetheless, a quick Wikipedia search reveals a colossal 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions in the game of Connect 4.

In spelt-out words, that’s four trillion, five hundred and thirty-one billion, nine hundred and eighty-five million, two hundred and nineteen thousand, and ninety-two!

That’s obviously far too complicated for a human to memorise. But that doesn’t mean poker players can’t transfer their study skills to gain an advantage.

There are many simplified Connect 4 strategies. Using the same systematic approach to study can give poker players an advantage over the average person.

Like GTO in poker, Connect 4 strategies are heavily condensed. So, if you’d like a simple way to win more often, we’d recommend learning the ‘odd and even’ version. This strategy isn’t too complicated to master and is very effective.

If taking Connect 4 to the lab seems pointless, remember that ALL winning strategies start with the first player dropping their opening disk in the centre. This fact will be enough to give you a head start.

If the player going first does this, player 2 can only win if player 1 makes a mistake.

If you want to play around with a Connect 4 solver here, you can do so here.

Since poker develops such a range of transferable skills, it’s unsurprising that many can give you an edge in other games.

We've only scratched the surface here, so the question is, how else do you use yours?

Dan O’Callaghan is a professional poker player who got his start in the online poker world as danshreddies. He has racked up over $290K in online earnings.