The famous Russian author and philosopher Leo Tolstoy once wrote:
Believe it or not, this powerful insight applies not just for life in general, but for the life of a poker player as well. Let’s break down how these two warriors can improve our poker game and help us make more money at the table.
Warrior One: Patience
- Patience in poker can come in many forms.
- Slowplaying a dry board with top set
- Playing a tighter range at a tough table
- Folding a flush draw when the pot odds aren’t in our favor
Patience is not just about waiting, it’s about taking a strategically disciplined approach in the pursuit of our ultimate goals.
Imagine a scenario where you’ve (correctly) had to fold for what seems like ages as you approached the money bubble in a high-stakes tournament you won entry to through a satellite. Now the bubble has finally burst and you immediately pick up pocket nines in middle position. You make a standard raise, intending to get all your chips in if given the opportunity, but watch in dismay as one opponent reraises and another – who you have labelled as a nit – jams over the top. If you allow your emotions to take over your decision-making process, you may very well punt off your remaining chips and curse your “bad luck” when your opponents flip over KK and AK.
However, had you been connected to Warrior One, you likely would have recognized the situation as one requiring patience and discipline and managed to circumvent such a low-equity spot.
Warrior Two: Time
Similar to Warrior One, Warrior Two – or time – can present itself in a multitude of ways.
- When you elect to dedicate a week’s worth of sessions to working on your game off the table even though it feels less fun, you are harnessing the power of time.
- When you recognize that no individual hand, tournament, or session can break you unless you let it, you are harnessing the power of time.
- When you truly embody the perspective that mastery of poker is the work of a lifetime, not of a day, month, or even a year, you are most definitely harnessing the power of time.
Much like you wouldn’t expect to have big muscles after your first day lifting weights, it’s important to recognize that the journey to poker mastery is a long one and that the more time spent in preparation for battle, the higher the likelihood of emerging victorious.
The Bottom Line
As Tolstoy implied more than a century ago, the road to excellence requires not just strategy and skill, but a deep appreciation for the value of the passage of time. By looking at each hand, each session, each day as an opportunity for insight and growth, you can transform the passage of time from a liability to an investment that is certain to reap its rewards.
By embracing your two Warriors, the benefits of success will no longer be confined to your financial ROI, but to your wisdom and personal growth as well.
Will Watson is a writer, amateur poker player and enthusiastic student of the human mind.