I recently launched the physical copy of my book, “The Game of Life and Poker: The Lessons I Learned On and Off the Felt.” It’s available on Amazon, or for a signed copy complete with a personal message, you can send me Bitcoin or Paypal. Click here if you’re interested. It took a long road to reach this book release, so forgive me if I seem a little proud.
OK, with that little plug out of the way, I want to touch on poker in terms of real life living. But first, I’m talking about anything in life, actually. Anything you do, specifically. Me, you, your friend, my mom, your sister, whoever it may be. It’s no secret that the more you practice something, the better at it you will be. When you wanted to learn how to ride a bike, you used the training wheels and kept peddling. Eventually, you stopped falling down and every parent who taught you how to ride, had that proud moment.
As adults, we either have significant others to be proud of us, or we have to be proud of ourselves. It’s a scary world out there, with real life ramifications if we fall down this time. We don’t have training wheels any longer. Heck, we may not all be so blessed to even have our parents at this time. The point is, the real world is a bigger and badder place than our childhood allowed us to realize. Or that’s what our parents made us think anyway.
Some of us were more prepared for it than others, sure, but most of us are still learning. I’m 36 now and I can assure you I will be learning until the day I die. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over my years, some took me a loooooong time to learn, but I got it. Some I still haven’t gotten. As long as we’re living and breathing, and fully capable, we can all learn. We can all build a life to be proud of. Or our parents. Maybe even our own kids someday.
We all have to go through it though. We all have to keep going.
Back to my poker playing for a moment. I used to play professionally (for a short time in my twenties and one semester of mortuary school). I also used to lose a lot. And of course, I would have winning streaks that helped to boost my many years of being a net positive player. I once went 8 years straight of winning more than I won. Why? Because I put in the time. I played and played and played. For awhile, all I wanted to do in life was play poker. So that’s all I did. I had to raise my game.
I fluctuated from being a tournament only player to a cash game only player, to now I’m a bit of both (it just depends of the games running). But, when I played, I had to put in the volume. I’m not a particularly “lucky” player, as I almost always have the best of it when the money goes in, I just have to avoid getting “unlucky.” As life and the Poker Gods would have it, I would take a beating. My opponents, and also the world as we know all too well, are going to get lucky from time to time.
I could play perfect poker, and still it may not matter in the end of a tournament. But over time, say 50 tournaments or 100 even, I’m going to come out on top. Why? Because I’m a better player than my opponents. Luck eventually runs out, when all you rely on is luck. Don’t be that person.
Think back to that kid who learned how to ride a bike instantly. Using the law of averages, that kid was “lucky.” Most of us, had to earn the right to take off the training wheels. Now think a little further ahead. Maybe we learn to drive a car quicker than the kid who learned to ride a two wheeled bike. Again, everything evens out. My message is just that. Another lesson learned.
The person (or kid) who puts in the most work, will reap the most benefits. It may sting along the way, because remember, even the world can shit on you no matter how virtuous of a life you lead; but it’s worth it. You only reach the top if you put in the time.
I made enough money playing poker to pay my bills because I played more tournaments than the guy who could maybe play just a couple a week. I’m more prepared to lose, accept it as a lesson learned and move on. The person who only plays once or twice does not. They see it as “always” losing, when in reality, they may have it so much nicer in other areas of life that I may not.
It. Always. Evens. Out.
You just can’t give up when things get tough in life. I haven’t. I’ve certainly wanted to. Believe me, I have been to some pretty dark and lonely places. I’ve had a lot of thoughts go through my head. But I’m still here. And so are you. Keep putting in the time to achieve what you want and you will. Step up. Raise your game. Go all in. You owe it to yourself, don’t you?
It once took me two years to win a live poker tournament. TWO YEARS. In the beginning of my poker “career” I kept finishing 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd place. I mean, repeatedly. I was still making money, but I wanted the win. I wanted to say that for one night, I was the absolute best. It was tough on me mentally. It was physically exhausting to play so well every night and not come away with the victory. But I kept moving forward. I kept putting in the time. Just like that, I went on a massive winning streak. A legit winning streak too. Suddenly, I couldn’t lose it seemed. I firmly believe that it was because of all of those close finishes and the time I put into playing and studying even more.
The losses prepare you for the wins. The wins you earn.
There’s truly no greater feeling in poker than going home having all the money or being the last remaining player in a tournament. For one night, everything pays off. And it pays off handsomely. I can play for a week and lose every single time, but poker is such a lucrative game, that when you win, you win big. It’s big enough to keep you going for months or half a year some nights. It can be that big. You have to give yourself the best chance to succeed though.
The only way to succeed in life, and/or poker, is to keep going. Keep playing. Don’t let one bad night of drinking or a breakup deter you from what deserve. Don’t let someone else dictate your future. Let them be about luck. Let them continue chasing the training wheels. Learn your lessons an move on. Don’t let your losses get in the way of your future wins. If you do that, I promise you I won’t let one losing night of poker determine my future winnings. So, what do you say, do we have a deal?