Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2007) in Poker Player newspaper.
This is part 3 of a six-part series of entries exploring life-strategy that relates to poker.
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In the last two entries, we’ve examined some profitable poker tactics that translate to success in everyday life. We’re not done yet.
So far, we’ve learned not to fret over each injustice. That’s because we know in advance that a predictable number of “unbelievably inconsiderate,” “frighteningly forgetful,” or “completely careless” things are going to happen to us each year. We can decide to use our time fretting over these wrongs, or we can simply invest that same time on things that will get us ahead. The latter is better.
In poker, we shouldn’t waste time worrying about past misfortune. We should just go about the game, taking future profit wherever it’s available. It’s the same in the real world. Don’t let tiny injustices sidetrack your quest for success.
And we’ve discovered that it’s okay to cheer for your friends. It’s common for people to be jealous of their friends’ successes. But if anyone’s going to fare better than you, hope it’s your friends and not your enemies. When friends succeed, you might benefit from favors — such as making important contacts or meeting people with the resources to make your visions real. That doesn’t happen when enemies succeed. In poker and in life, cheer for your friends.
Inspired by misfortune
Finally, we’ve learned that in poker and real life you should save your fancy plays for when you’re running good. You can’t assert yourself convincingly when things aren’t going your way.
In poker, opponents are inspired by your misfortune and play better against you. In real life, other people aren’t as likely to cooperate in helping you succeed when you seem to be struggling. They wait until they perceive that “you’re on a roll,” because they’re intimidated by good luck. So when the right fortune isn’t in your cookie, wait. Play more conservatively in poker and in life. When better things happen, that’s the time to come to life, use fancy plays, and assert yourself again.
Now it’s time to move along to today’s two real-life tips, taken straight from MCU poker strategy. Here they are, slightly modified for this entry from the way I first presented them over a dozen years ago…
One: Don’t even the score
This advice can be hard on your ego, but listen anyway.
In life, you don’t need to get even with the person who did you wrong. Similarly, you don’t need to get even with the player who bluffed you, trapped you, or sandbagged you in poker. You shouldn’t care where your next opportunity to gain comes from.
You don’t have to get even or break even with anyone. Play the opportunities as they arise. Success stacks up the same, no matter where it comes from. Some people are so busy getting “even” (today’s word), they never have time to get ahead.
In gambling and in life, a few people are going to get the better of you. So what?
If you won a bet on a basketball game, would you be upset that the other team’s center scored more points than your team’s center? Of course not! You won the bet, so what do you care? Same in life. If you succeed overall, don’t fret over a few lost skirmishes, and never waste energy trying to get even with those who beat you.
Two: Act last
Almost no one realizes the importance of acting last.
At my poker seminars, I teach how important it is to understand your position at the table. Players must act in turn, and those who act after you have an advantage because they get to see what you do before making their decisions.
So, I teach that you should use psychology by making friends with players who act after you. They’ll then be less motivated to exploit their advantages. This works in life, too. Befriend those who have an advantage, so they will be less motivated to make it difficult on you specifically. That’s important, and I’ll repeat it: In life, make friends with those who could do you the most damage.
And there’s more. You should usually strive to gain advantage by acting last. If you’re sure that everyone will have an equal chance to act, it’s better — with few exceptions — to wait to see what your opponents do, then adapt your strategy accordingly. In poker, we call it a positional advantage. Let’s call it the same thing in real life.
For instance, if you’re at a meeting where you and an adversary will each present a proposal, go last if you can. Now you can modify your presentation in accordance with what your real-life opponent has said.
Profit at the poker table and success beyond the poker table share much in common. — MC