Patience Is a Virtue, On and Off the Poker Felt

“Alright, I’m all in.” Just like that, all of my chips were in the middle of the table, my tournament life at risk for the first time in over five hours of play. And just like that, I lost the hand, and was knocked out of the tournament. It was mostly my fault, really. I had been playing so well for the first five hours.

So, what happened? I got greedy. I became bored with the later stages of a poker tournament, in which the short stacks need to double up, and the big stacks need to apply even more pressure. Being a middle stack, I needed to pick my spots, and not play recklessly. I failed in that regard. I played too fast and too loose. I tried to become a big stack, by picking on the big stacks.

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My chip stack during a poker tournament at Potawatomi Casino.

Maybe next time I’ll remember to slow things down a bit.

Our whole life, we’re told to slow things down. To simplify. To make things easier to understand and to get the most out of life. We’re told that patience is a virtue, that good things come to those who wait. In poker, and in life, slowing things down can be a good thing.

I understand that in today’s world, technology and social media allow us to have anything and everything available at any instant. Back in my day, if I didn’t know something, I had to ask someone what a term meant. Or had to read it in a book. Remember dictionaries? Actual road maps? I don’t how we survived without cell phones, but here we are.

The point I’m trying to make, is that with all of this technology and high speed data consumption, life gets put by the wayside. Life is hard enough as it is already, but when we move at warp speed (or whatever Verizon calls 4G), we miss out on so much more value. There’s value to be had everywhere, from the poker table (bad players) to experiencing life as a whole (literally doing anything).

Instead of rushing to get ready in the morning, we should not hit the snooze button (guilty as charged). Even an extra 15 minutes would help, would it not? Maybe then we wouldn’t fret over being stuck in morning traffic, or hurrying into work, or rushing to eat or whatever else it is we speed through.

I don’t know about you, but when I rush in the morning, I don’t “have time” for breakfast. That’s not good. The most important meal of the day, and I’m not having it. I’m already behind the eight ball. I rush to get ready, hope I don’t get stuck in traffic, and then proceed to make myself a cup of coffee, insisting that without it, I can’t begin my day. Sound familiar?

By not hitting that snooze button, I can get up at my leisure, make myself breakfast, maybe read the morning news (online, of course) or just enjoy the morning for what it is: another opportunity to seize the day by living in the moment. By slowing things down, I can enjoy the fact that I’m still here, living and breathing. Life is hard, but it’s not as hard as most people have it.

You snooze, you lose.

The truth is, we have most of what we need in life, but today’s world feeds us this notion that we have to have everything. Live in excess, take what you can and give nothing back. What happened to enjoying life, by slowing things down? Time is continuous. It never stops. If you really think about that, on a deeper level other than to LOL me, you’d realize every moment you spend downloading the latest app or Googling who was in that one movie you saw that one time, is more or less not utilizing the time you have.

So, the next time I’m in a poker tournament, I won’t try to win it in one hand. I’ll try to practice a little patience, take what I’m given and feel the players out a bit more. If I truly mean it when I say that poker makes me happy, just to be playing, and talking to other players, then I need to act like it. I need to enjoy those moments, because I’m no longer a professional poker player, but more of a recreational player. I play because I make money from the game, yes, but also because I truly enjoy it. I would play for pennies if I could.

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A little perspective, via Snapchat: watry.n

If playing poker makes me happy, then I don’t need to rush my time and get caught up in things that in the end, don’t really matter. I need to live in the moment. If taking the time in the morning to enjoy that cup of coffee means not hitting the snooze button, then that’s what you should be doing. Whatever it takes.

We could leave this world at any time.

Memento Mori: Remember you must die. It’s a Latin saying, meant to convey the message that you will die someday. We all know this, and yet, don’t exactly live that way. When I play poker, I have a coin I use as a reminder of this (I also use a keepsake urn as my card protector). It was given to me as a gift from my friend, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. A great message to myself when I play poker, and to carry around in my daily life.

We won’t always have time on our side. Sure, there will be other mornings, or other poker tournaments, but someday there won’t be. Look how fast the weekend went by. Look how fast January went by. Look how fast the last year went by. Time never stops. We should enjoy what we have, the time we do have and place value on things that really matter. Live more in the moment, and less on our next step. And that’s something I’ll gladly enjoy with you, over a cup of coffee.