The similarities between playing poker and DJing: Strategy, timing, and reading the crowd

In entertainment, two things that are hardly the same but often go together are DJing and Poker. While DJing and poker may seem like unrelated activities, they have more similarities than meets the eye. Poker is a card game in which players are dealt a hand and place bets by calling, raising, or folding. DJing is a musical art form in which a DJ (disc jockey) mixes and edits music using turntable disks.

Both DJing and poker require attention to detail, as they revolve around structure, method, and staying one step ahead. When playing an online poker game for real money, you need to carefully consider your opponents’ moves and call their bluffs, just as a DJ needs to read the virtual crowd during a live stream. Understanding the rules and the players is key to winning, both in the virtual poker room and in the world of music. Whether it’s playing cards or beats, success comes from staying attuned to your audience and adapting to their needs and desires.

This article will interestingly spotlight the similarities between poker and DJing, focusing on how they share the same approach regarding strategy, timing, and reading people.


To enjoy poker, one must delve into the principles of the game, know the hands, and practice strategies. Personal preferences may vary, and luckily, strategies come in bulk. Starting small, one of the strategies players may choose is “playing a few hands.” That involves selecting a starter hand and playing before the pre-flop. Bluffing can be effective, but players should be careful and choose hands that have the potential to improve as the game progresses. Straight draws and flush draws are good hands to consider when bluffing.

Bet when others won’t and observe players who check, especially if they check on a flop and a turn. This means they have a relatively weak hand, and that’s when players should raise a bet.

For a DJ, their strategy would create a sense of occasion around the event; a strong hand is a sound issue. Before betting on a mix, a DJ must ensure high-quality soundtracks and quality speakers for the final draw. Like handsets, a DJ has soundtrack sets, and before blasting the speaker, a DJ must choose their songs. DJs should consider their audience; as a poker player would, they scan the room and the event for the best shot at winning over the crowd.


There’s a time for everything, a universal rule that keeps individuals hopeful and patient, and as it applies in real life, it also applies to poker and DJing. A poker game consists of rounds, and a player must determine when they should call, check or raise, and to do so, a player should time their moves.

During a round, there’s always a little tell that can help determine the winning hand. For instance, players who tend to call swiftly are likely to have a draw during a round. On the other hand, a player who is reluctant or doesn’t call immediately is likely to have a strong hand or the complete opposite.

For a DJ, time-telling can be slightly different but similar in principle. In DJ terms, a royal flush and a straight flush are the drink line and tempo line, respectively, where a DJ provides room for the audience to drink before the event starts by timing their mixes to intervals so the audience can have a slight break for drinks or downtime. A DJ can use a ‘tempo line’ to gauge the crowd’s energy level and adjust the beats per minute (BPM) accordingly. This can help the DJ build up the tone or switch to a more mellow beat, depending on the situation.

Reading the Crowd

It’s no news that having a good hand plays a major role in playing poker, but reading the room is also important. Often, players will give a talk about their hand through verbal or nonverbal communication. For instance, players who have a strong hand tend to make eye contact to establish dominance. Another tell is hand gestures; players ready to make a bet will likely fiddle with their cards or play with the chips. On the other hand, players who leave their stack still are likely to have a weak hand and fold, letting other players take the hand.

Like in poker, on the dance floor, the DJ interacts with the dancers by making eye contact and smiling, indicating that they’re moving at the right pace. Body gestures are crucial in DJing as they are in poker. The more active and hyper the audience, the more a DJ increases the BPM to get the room flowing and increase energy; like a poker game, where a hand is weak, and the player is likely to fold, a DJ is likely to slow down the tempo to give the dancers a break and restore their energy.

From an observing eye, playing poker and DJing may seem very different and as far as can be from one another. Yet opposites attract, and records and poker hands are alike. Some hands are strong, others are weak; some records are popular, others are not. However, the winning factor remains in reading the room and observing the crowd.


Image Credit: Marcela Laskoski on Unsplash

Acting as the CEO and founder of the site, the highly successful entrepreneur soon saw his team grow meteorically under his stewardship, amassing more than 1 million followers across the brand’s platforms. In addition, working with esteemed global entities such as Tomorrowland, AMF, EXIT Festival, Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza, Parookaville and many others festivals and clubs aswell as some of the world’s most reputable record labels, artists and agencies.

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