My Brain on Poker: 5 Fundamental Beliefs

  1. Everyone is most concerned with their own game (aka personal gain) and I must take full responsibility for the direct and indirect consequences of my actions. Sometimes we poker players purposely “misplay” a hand or two to make our opponents doubt our skills. We set them up to pay us off on a larger reward in the future. I believe corporations with great power have utilized similar tactics to ensure their success and I try not to play into their game. For example, I do not wander around my local stores looking for something I want and/or need and would prefer to see in person before purchasing, then turn around and buy it online because it is $10 cheaper. Cheaper is not necessarily better. One of the easiest ways to go broke as a poker player is to participate in every inexpensive hand that comes your way. The path to success requires pondering and maximizing the value of each bet placed. In life, that means pondering what kind of jobs the companies I support create in the world and how they influence our culture as a whole in addition to evaluating the true worth of the products themselves – be it a cab ride, pet sitter, vacation rental, paperback book, or article of clothing – because each choice matters more than we imagine at the time.
  2. While just playing the game is fun, it’s more fun when you’re winning. Everyone isn’t so much “out to get you” as they are “in it to win it”. Most people (or businesses) don’t want to step on your toes to move up, but they will happily do so if they “need” to. The thing is, we actually need each other to succeed as a whole. Progress comes from working together. Exchanging ideas is an invaluable aspect of life and everyone, everywhere is playing off the information they receive on a day to day basis as they live out their game plan. It is human nature for us each to put our own wants and needs first – to try to win – so, if you let the world make your decisions for you, don’t be surprised when you aren’t overjoyed with the results. Play your own game and play to win.
  3. You must know both when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em in order to play a good game and only you will know when those times are for you. Everyone is dealt a different hand in life, just like they are at the poker table. Even among those playing “the same hand”, each is looking at it from their own unique perspective. We might share five cards in common, but we have two of our very own to use with them and a position that could change everything. What works for one person may or may not work for another, so take each piece of advice with caution, remembering that each of us is ultimately responsible for looking out for ourselves. We should begin our game using the knowledge of those who have already proven successful, then allow our own unique experiences to teach us the modifications that best suit our own needs.
  4. The only thing I can control is myself. We need to respect the fact that everyone is playing their own game and take pride in devising our personal strategy. We cannot make people like or want us, but we can grow into the person we want to be one step at a time. Once you have devised (and mastered the daily implementation of) your own unique strategy, you will be more content and likely to succeed in life. However, in order to achieve long term success, you have to be adaptable and change up your game from time to time. Predictable players face predictable problems. In fact, being flexible is likely the most important component of any life plan or poker strategy as change is one of the few things we can expect with certainty. Also, change is far less scary when you anticipate its arrival (if only by acknowledging its continued presence) and take control of each opportunity to react in a way that helps you grow into the person that you want to be.
  5. Always be willing and ready to go all-in, but wait for the opportune moment. Winning players spend a lot of time preparing before they venture into high stakes poker. I believe they personify the statement, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” That’s why I’m not rushing to the felt as often as some might think I should if I really want to play. I do really want to play poker, but I believe that “extra” cash will appear when the time is right for me to take my game to the next level. In fact, one might say it began trickling in this week when I received a few ridiculously generous cash tips. Coincidentally, right before the money began to appear, I learned that my favorite local game has started up again. I may not have my desired casino bankroll yet, but somehow it feels only a hop, skip, and a jump away. If you do find me seated at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event in less than eighty days, it will seem an immensely lucky feat. However, it is a ridiculous dream for which I believe I have been preparing my entire life – a lucky moment I would not be surprised to see in my future. You can’t push me all-in, but you can be sure I’ll call that bet when the time is right.

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