Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2012) in Poker Player newspaper.
Weather isn’t only rain and snow, thunder and sunshine. Weather is a concept that I teach students of poker and life. And we’ll explore it in today’s self-interview.
Question 1: What do you mean by saying weather is a concept?
Well, I use it conceptually when explaining an important attitude that builds poker bankrolls and makes life itself easier to manage. Sure, weather is still storms and droughts. I’m not arguing about that.
But the concept surrounding this reality is that weather is something you can’t influence. It comes. It goes. You can react to it in meaningful ways. But you can’t choose what weather you want.
Question 2: Big deal. So what?
Let me tell you “so what.” So what this means is that there’s good weather and bad weather. Let’s talk about bad weather. Your attitude regarding bad weather shouldn’t be one of disgust or dismay or irritation or anger. Get it?
Question 3: No, I don’t get it – not at all. What’s to get?
The thing to get is that you can’t do anything about it. Most people accept that. They actually don’t treat weather as something that’s out to get them. Most people don’t become emotionally unhinged when a storm front rolls in and ruins their picnic. They merely wish it hadn’t happened and wait it out or choose an alternative.
My concept about weather will save your poker bankroll. My concept will help you avoid bad judgment in everyday life. It will keep you, instead, on the path toward success.
Question 4: Okay, I’m listening. What is your concept?
My concept is simply that you should treat all forces you can’t control the same way as you treat today’s weather. Look, a fresh deal of cards is a lot like the weather. The hand you’re about to be dealt is unpredictable. The outcome of the race to the showdown is unpredictable, too.
You could waste a lot of mental energy feeling singled out by bad cards. Many poker players do this almost routinely. But these same players don’t fret so much when they leave the game and venture outdoors to drive home. If it’s thundering and pouring down rain, they’re more likely to just say, “Gosh, it’s really storming!” They don’t take it personally.
And that’s the same attitude you have to bring to the poker table. Bad cards? Gosh, it’s really storming. Nothing I can do about it, though. Oh, well.
When you train yourself to react that way, you’ll be able to concentrate on making correct decisions. You won’t become emotionally distraught and unable to fully focus. Misjudgment surrounding misfortune is common in real life, too. It’s easy to become resentful of happenings you can’t control. When you do that, you’re wasting energy and time that could be used to make superior decisions.
Raining? It’s time for an umbrella. Good decision. Take pride in being able to treat unpredictable events like the weather. That’s the concept. Treat luck like the weather.
Question 5: Does this only apply to actual cards in poker?
No. It applies to everything involving random events. It applies to your perception of poker dealers, for instance. I’ve heard players complain about a misdeal and shout, “You cost me the pot!” Such utterances lead to distress and often to a meltdown of decision-making skill. It’s an invitation to muddle in your own misfortune. It’s the gateway to going on tilt.
Here’s what I do instead: I treat misdeals like the weather. I realize that the accident, no matter how careless the dealer’s action may have been, didn’t really harm or help me until I saw the outcome. Therefore, its impact was unpredictable, like the weather. And so, to me, it is the weather.
Question 6: I get it now. Can you summarize?
Sure. Whenever you’re going about your everyday business or playing poker, it’s your decisions that matter. Eventually, the quality of those decisions will determine your likelihood of success.
Your job in poker and in life is to make good decisions when they matter. Bad things that are beyond your control don’t deserve your mental anguish. They are just circumstances that give you a chance to limit damage by choosing the most appropriate tactics.
The life you live and the poker you play provide opportunities to make powerful winning decisions. It’s about what you can influence or control. Everything else is weather.— MC