Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2007) in Poker Player newspaper.
This is part 2 of a six-part series of entries exploring life-strategy that relates to poker.
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Two weeks ago, I explained that MCU wasn’t just a name for my University of Poker. The full name is Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. And, so, we talked about an important tip for everyday living. (See, there’s today’s word already – “everyday.”) We focused on the “life strategy” part of MCU’s name.
I explained that one of the things that can hinder us in our quest for real-life success is being distracted by irritations and injustices that you expect to happen. Sure, you don’t know exactly which irritations or injustices will occur, but you know that, in accordance with what some call the law of averages, there will be a lot of them. Servers will forget to bring your restaurant dinner, drivers will be discourteous, you’ll get charged twice for merchandise – it goes on and on.
And I guess you could devote your life to making others suffer for their mistakes. You could devote your life to getting vengeance. But why bother? In my previous column, I said that next year you might predict that, based on your life experience, there will be 300 really rotten, inexplicable, inexcusable, truly terrible, mildly significant things that unfairly happen to you. (Actually, I didn’t use the exact number 300, but you get the idea.)
But what if only 280 of these bad things actually happen? You have a choice of getting really upset and expending energy on each one. Or you can figure, well, I’m having a better-than-expected year, so I’ll save that energy, and concentrate on doing things that help me succeed. I believe you’ve got to learn to take minor injustice in stride and use your limited energy and resources to accomplish big deeds.
But that was the lesson last time. Today, I’m going to add two more important tools to your real-life arsenal. Here they come…
Today’s first tool
Cheer for your friends. I want to warn you about envy. Many people don’t want their friends to outshine them. They’re jealous of the success of those close to them. But that’s wrongheaded. You should want success for your friends and allies, for those close to you.
When enemies succeed, no good will come to you as a result. But when friends succeed, there are all sorts of potential benefits, such as business opportunities and introductions to people who can help you.
In poker, I never feel envious of friends who are winning more than I am. I want my friends to succeed so they can share their secrets, so they can tip me off to better games in the future, so they introduce me to rich novices looking for a game — all sorts of benefits.
Strangers and enemies
If strangers win, you don’t get any of these advantages. And if enemies win, it’s likely to put them in a better position to torment you. It’s the same in life. You should want your friends to succeed always. The more friends you have succeeding, the more opportunities you’ll have. It’s just plain crazy, but common, to be jealous of your friends’ successes.
Don’t do that. Cheer for your friends. If somebody’s going to make you seem second-best, for a short time or forever, better it be a friend than an enemy.
Today’s second tool
Now, from my archives, here’s my second life-strategy tip for today, pretty much as I explained it years ago…
Save your fancy moves for when you’re running good. In skillful forms of gambling against other players, when your luck is running bad, opponents often become inspired and play better. You’re no longer a force to be reckoned with in their minds. Most of your fancy plays won’t work because you’ve lost the intimidation factor, which is fundamental to many aggressive strategies. At these times, you should become a more timid player. You should be patient and wait for fate to give you an advantage again.
In life, do the same thing. Sometimes in conversations or in business, things aren’t really clicking and you’re losing ground. You can feel it happening. Play defensively. Your image isn’t right for asserting yourself, so — if possible — just lurk and don’t take a stand yet.
Many people desperately try to prove themselves when they’re at a disadvantage, but they ought to just sit silently. As a bonus, this silence often seems like strength to others. Repeating: When you’re at a disadvantage, or you’re just not in sync, don’t try to prove yourself immediately. Wait it out. Sooner or later an opportunity will come, and then you can be profound or assertive.
It relates to poker
Do you see how that relates to my advice in poker? I teach that when you’re losing, opponents aren’t afraid of you. When that happens some bets turn from having winning expectation to having losing expectation. These are mainly wagers with hands that you would have previously bet for value because opponents wouldn’t take maximum advantage if they had you beat. They were too concerned about how you’d respond if they pushed their hands, because you had the superior image. Now, with your image not so dominating, they don’t feel that way anymore. And they’re more dangerous.
In those cases, I teach that you shouldn’t make value bets. Value bets are correct when you’re going after every last penny’s worth of profit. They’re risky wagers. And opponents need to perceive that you’re in command for most of these bets to pay off.
When you’re not in command, you must wait for a better run of cards that will help make your image credible again. It’s the same in everyday life. When things aren’t going your way, it’s not the time to press your luck against adversaries. Yet, people try this instinctively and often fail and falter. You should wait until the time is right. — MC