Have you ever noticed how drastically your approach to poker strategy changes when you play for cash versus when you play for tokens or matches?
Risk-free gambling makes you reckless. You can wager larger amounts, go all-in every other turn and care not if your decisions are miscalculated.
Equally, when you play the same game but wager your own hard-earned cash, you become more alert, deceptive and largely affected by the outcomes of your decisions. Betting on yourself makes you value every single detail that surrounds the choice you take.
When such choice involves parting with something of our own, we are most likely to use all the potential of our brains to make it as educated as we can, minimizing the risk of loss…one may think.
I wish it was like that. Instead of calculating an educated decision, they follow emotions and not the ones we fable in novels, but those, impulsive kind that rarely lead to good memories.
So how come, very few of us realize that gambling is our way of betting on ourselves? So few in fact that much of the world strictly forbids many forms of gambling, making it illegal and highly punitive. Is our nature in that much need of hand-held guidance?
I speculate on the matter often. I do little but speculate on global worldviews of human kind and find that once again, lack of desire to take responsibility for our actions allows for such things to happen.
Assume my name is Brian, and I’ve lost $5k today on an online slot machine, playing somewhere like Automatenherz or it’s “for cash” counterpart. Will I analyze my own actions and learn from it or will I look for someone to blame and hide behind it, covering my own decision to lose $5k?
The likely approach would be the latter. It is easier. I don’t have to spend more time thinking about the decision I subconsciously know, will lead to facing my own worst enemy – me. I won’t have to live with admitting that I am not infallible and the $5k decision was plain dumb. Instead, I’ll find the reason why I wasn’t the one to blame and go on with my life repeating these same things.
What is the chance of meeting an elephant in the middle of NYC? The answer is 50% – you either do or you don’t. Not all of these speculations will apply to each person but I’d bet many have found themselves in a similar predicament.
Above all I was surprised when I decided to take a second path of self-loathing and blunt finger pointing at the mirror. I sat down and recalled at what point I was on the peak and at what point it all went $5k sourer.
Imagine for a moment a point when I was up $1k and could’ve walked away with it. Then it was 800, 600, 400, 200, -5k.
Now that I write it out, the question arises “How the hell did I end up that far behind?” What possessed me to keep on playing? Many know what did, but the thought I never focused on was “why did I not stop the very last time I was still ahead?”
I’ve read somewhere about an experiment. Several couples of strangers were offered to play a game. One individual was given $100 and told to offer as much of it as they wanted to the second person who had a single choice of either taking the amount offered or declining and leaving with nothing.
To my large surprise, there were people who declined the offers deeming them too low. To my larger surprise – I was among those fools, not realizing that even an offer of 1 cent would leave me off 1 cent richer than I was before. Some declined 20, 40 and even 60 dollar offers without analyzing the scenario they were in.
I see a parallel in this experiment and the loss of $5k. Even if I stopped when I was $15 ahead, I’d still walk away a pack of cigarettes richer than I was before. What possessed my nature to go on is beyond me. Greed did…at first. Then hope to at least leave with what I came having.
After my story, I stepped back and thought if I could have done something better? Of course I could. We all could, but the best thought is usually the first one coming the next day.
Find this scenario familiar? It doesn’t have to be something as big as wasting 5 grand. It can be as tiny as not saying hello to that girl/boy you like, and covering it with time, weather, lack of money, lack of pants, lack of car or teeth.
Every day we are faced with doing something or not going for it. Should I wear a hat or risk catching a cold? Will catching a third cold this month get me fired? Will losing a job ruin my family? All these questions are no different than asking “Will I lose $5k today?”
Remember the elephant in NYC? It will either happen or not but the probability of it happening will vary on the chain of decisions you make. I personally found taking less damage when I that probability is considered.
Imagine a naked tree with countless branches. No leaves, just branches growing out of branches growing out of trunk. Imagine you take that tree and put it in the air horizontally. On top of it you stand, choosing which branch to walk on.
Every step you take will lead you to a next decision. You walk the left branch and next step you’ll have to choose whether to walk on the left branch again or take a right this time. This is you betting on yourself every day. This is you walking on the tree of your own life and making decisions hundreds of times every day.
No matter whether you will find someone to blame for it, the decision will remain yours and you will only be able to avoid making the next bad decision if you sit down and analyze the steps you took that lead to it happening.
I changed the way I saw my own decisions when I lost that day. When I began to bet on myself rather than bet on the machine, I realized that difference in the way you play Poker is not so different. The perception of putting something valuable on the table makes you much more careful and ultimately profitable. Even 1 cent is a win. A minor win but if you win daily, you will feel better about yourself, your close ones will feed off your positive energy, you will be richer and success will follow.
There is no such thing as a small-time winner, only greed and laziness. Two strong foes that we are born with, but no one ever said it was going to be easy or fair. You will lose, you will make dumb choices as part of our nature. It’s the way you will handle what follows will make you stand out from the crowd. Some will be too lazy to think, others too greedy to slow down. You on the other hand will take it all if you will always bet on yourself. That hardest truth is the one we have to tell ourselves.