What Can Poker Players Learn from the Stoics?
Excellence in Texas Holdem and all games at Juicy Stakes Poker involves staying calm, accepting the ups and downs of poker with equanimity, and avoiding anger or frustration. These non-strategic qualities are as important as strategy! The stoics have a lot to teach us if we listen.
Who were the Stoics?
The stoics were the followers pf a branch of philosophy that sought to enhance a positive outlook of life and, concomitantly, to reduce negativity. Their philosophy is called stoicism these days. Many people who show relatively little emotion in their day to day lives may say that they are “stoic” beyond average.
The Core of Stoicism is Virtue
The stoics divide virtue into four component parts. As poker players, we can readily see that these are not clean distinctions. Rather, there is a great deal of overlap in the elements of virtue as the stoics saw them. These elements are:
We can easily see how these can affect anyone’s poker game. The point here is that fully 2400 years ago, men in Greece were talking about the same aspects of virtue that we understand we need to excel at poker!
Moderation is a Tone
There is a mantra of sorts: “Everything in moderation”. This means that a little meat is okay, staying up late on the weekends is fine, streaming a lot of television series occasionally can be a good way to relax, making realistic time and monetary budgets for poker is necessary and good, and many other day to day and poker-related choice we make all fall into the category of moderation.
In poke terms, moderation means taking the reality of many parameters into account when you decide how to proceed in a hand. Are you in early position with a borderline hand? Are you in a position of strength because of your position? Is the betting opponent normally a very passive player or is he or she normally very aggressive?
When we say that moderation is a tone, we mean that your attitude on every hand sets the tone for your overall poker game. If you start to show frustration after having to fold many hands in a row, it may telegraph to your opponents that you are “reaching” on the next hand where you raise unnecessarily.
There are many ways that we can lose the value of moderation in poker! The key is to emphasize moderation in thought and action. Your thoughts will direct your actions and your actions will direct your thoughts!
Justice May be Blind but Not in Poker
In government and in society at large, blind justice may be a fair goal even if it is unattainable. The quest for pure blind justice enhances justice and makes society better. Poker, on the other hand, has no emotion of its own.
You might play a hand perfectly. The one out your opponent has comes up on the river and all of your hard work is for naught.
Or is it?
We have to learn from every hand whether we win or lose or how we play the game! So, even a very bad beat can become an upbeat moment if we let it! The key to allowing a bad beat to become an upbeat moment is to avoid bemoaning the injustice of our loss.
It is much better to look at poker as a game that involves blind luck rather than one that seeks out blind justice!
Wisdom Has a World of Applications in Poker
Normally, when we think about wisdom, we think about where we live, who we marry, what kind of job we want, whether we can keep silent while a blowhard rants and raves on a political matter at Thanksgiving, and a massive number of similar questions and moments.
The boss might be wrong but is it wise to say something? The service in the restaurant was sub-par but is it wise to complain? And so on ad infinitum!
Wisdom in poker involves accepting reality, not throwing good money after bad, playing at your personal skill level, playing at a stakes level that is commensurate with your personal financial situation, playing at an online poker room, and a lot else. Wisdom is being as honest with ourselves as we can be when setting that realistic time and monetary budget we spoke about earlier. Wisdom is congratulating a poor yet very lucky player on a “good hand” even though he played the hand very poorly and won only through a massive injection of luck.
Wisdom may be the top of the pyramid of all poker and life in general qualities.
Courage Can be True or it Can be False
In poker, courage usually means overcoming the fear of losing in order to effect a great in. Courage may mean putting an opponent on a bluff where to be wrong in that assessment might finish you off in a tournament. Courage also means being able to admit that you were wrong in your analysis of a hand and folding rather than putting in more money in a losing cause.
Courage may mean acknowledging that you aren’t yet ready to move to a higher stakes level because your skill is still lagging behind your bankroll.
There is a Great Deal of Overlap in the Stoic Approach to Poker
A stoic poker player feels disappointment at a bad beat but shrugs it off because the next hand is a lot more important than the hand just lost. The only value the hand just lost has is in learning from the experience. In a truly bad beat, there may be nothing to learn and thus nothing to gain from rehashing it in your head instead of paying attention as life and poker move on.
A stoic poker player plays online because that is the best venue for controlling how much time the player is devoting to poker.
A stoic poker player understands the intersection between wisdom and courage and tries to augment each in his or her play.
A realistic poker player JOINS JUICY STAKES POKER for the utmost in poker play, poker writing, and poker options.