So why dedicate precious hours of life hunched over a card table in complete concentration? I guess it’s because the poker table is one of the few places where concentration and knowledge is immediately rewarded, while mistakes are immediately punished. After giving up football, I needed an arena to compete in, something that required complete concentration to succeed in. There are very few places in life that if you’re not at your best, you suffer… if I come to work tired or unfocused, I can just work harder the next day, and no one will notice. If my workout is not as intense as I’d like it to be, I’m a little frustrated, but there isn’t much noticeable difference in who I am. But at the poker table, mistakes cost you, and cost you immediately. If you’re not focused, you will lose. If you don’t sit down with your best stuff, you are most likely in trouble.
So I guess poker is something that makes me push myself to my limits of concentration and study. There’s a lot of incentive, because unlike work, where a job perfectly done most likely does not result in any financial gain, a good check raise results in an immediate gain in profit. There are no politics in poker– no annoying boss, no coworkers who aren’t doing their job. Poker is purely an individual pursuit, where the player’s results are directly proportional to his knowledge and skill.
Oh yeah, and of course there is some luck involved.
In a lot of ways, poker is like football, and I suppose like life also. I played Tight End on the football field, which meant I was dependent on the quarterback to get me the ball. In poker, you’re dependent on the dealer to give you some cards to play with. The temptation, if you believe that you’re knowledge and skill is greater than your opponents, is to believe that you can beat them with ANY two cards. This is where patience and an understanding of probability theory is extremely useful. On the football field, I learned to keep running my routes as best I could, and keep beating my man, no matter if the quarterback threw to me or not. Eventually, he would hit me, usually for a big play that would have a big effect on the outcome of the game. At the poker table, I’m learning that you wait for an edge to appear, and then you push that edge as hard as you can. I think this is true in life as well– although in the long run, success comes down to knowledge and skill, there is a lot of luck involved. At the poker table, unlike in life, it’s very difficult to create your own opportunities, so you have to exercise your patience until an opportunity arises. In life, you can sometimes create an opportunity by pushing your skills, but the ability to recognize a good opportunity is a talent. In poker, winners wait patiently until a solid opportunity arises, and then make the most out of that small advantage.