Just after Greg Raymer won the 2004 World Poker Championship, I met him at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, CA. When I asked him what counsel he had for people learning to play poker, he said that players often feel they must use fancy moves to win at poker. When, in fact, ABC poker will usually get them much further, especially in tournaments.
With that in mind, here are my Poker/Life ABC’s. For me, within each poker lesson, there is a life lesson.
A is for Action. There are five actions in poker: check, bet, fold, call, or raise. Before you decide on what action to take, pause, take a moment, and ask yourself, “What is today’s correct action based on the information at hand?”
B is for Breathe. Remember to breathe and move to the moment before you take action.
C is for Courage. It is that courage to take action, even when fear overwhelms you.
D is for Vitamin D. Long hours at the computer or poker table can cause a lack of Vitamin D and negatively affect your mind.
E is for Energy. Everything is energy. What gives you energy? What makes you powerful? Write it down. Seek it.
F is for Feedback. Noah St John calls feedback your Loving Mirrors, people who lovingly help you see yourself truthfully.
G is for Go for It! That’s what my mom, at 83, says when I ask her advice. “Step out there and take a risk!”
H is for Halo Effect. That is when players prematurely profile opponents based on incomplete information.
I is for Instinct. Just as gathering information is critical, so it trusting your instincts.
J is for Joyful. Approach each situation joyfully and watch what happens. Some people may even think you are nuts.
K is for Keep ‘em guessing. Change up your style of play so your opponents are unable to put you on a hand.
L is for Luck, the intersection of preparation and opportunity. We give ourselves the chance to become lucky or unlucky.
M is for Mindfulness. Poker and life are best when played in the moment.
O is for Opportunity to see the good in each situation. It is easy to find the good in a win… but in a loss?
P is for Position. Poker and life are more successful when played from the most favorable position.
Q is for Quiet your mind. Sometimes, I think too much at the poker table. Most of the time, I think too much in life.
R is for Release fear, guilt, and blame. Release that which no longer serves you.
S is for Should’uv, which has no place in poker or in life.
T is for Trust your gut. Stop. Observe. Gather information. Add in your gut feeling. Trust it, and go for it.
U is for Understand yourself. If someone understands you better than you understand them, they control the communication.
V is for Vision of Victory, the art of changing any loss into a win.
W is for the Why question, “Why am I a winner?”
X is for X-factor. Phew! Google shows 55+ million results for X-factor! On American Idol, Simon Cowell says the X-factor is the illusive something that makes for star quality.
Y is for that Y-moment when the YES word finally penetrates your doubts and say: “Yes, I can! Yes, I will! Yes, I am!”
Z is for Zero in the pot. With nothing to win, do you still have to be right?