Poker

WSOP Philosophy & Advice

I’ve made no secret of it – this is an important year for me at the WSOP. Many in my position may think it sensible to hide that, perhaps deny the totality of it to themselves, in order to soften the impending blow a bad run of cards is poised to deliver. Or because acknowledging the pressure is counterproductive. Or, perhaps, to alleviate themselves of the irrefutable responsibility that would be on them to come supremely prepared, were it indeed such an important occasion. I’d like to touch on my own mentality, which with the help of good fortune, may have assisted me in not yet having a truly poor year in my 5 previous visits to the WSOP.

 

 

I believe I’ve more control over the outcome than I probably do.

 

Being a healthy variance-denier I believe continues to give me a significant edge against my opposition at the WSOP. It’s a dangerous inclination to have almost anywhere else, but at the WSOP it’s a skillset you want working for you.

The escapist behavior I touched on above, even, would be a reflection of the adjustments someone would sensibly make if they were more statistically oriented, or “hardened to the game” if you like. Personally though, I believe wholeheartedly that if I show up to the WSOP, the biggest stage in poker, and lay everything I’ve got on the line: I should have some serious results at the end to show for it. I pride myself on delivering when it counts. To not have results then, would to me represent humiliation. Rejection. Mockery. Profound grief.

 

What’s been great in recent years with vlogs and the like, is that we don’t even have to speculate on how many people end up confronting the challenges of the Series. The reason I need to qualify myself as a healthy variance-denier, is that we probably all know unhealthy examples. We know the players who deny variance so insidiously that they can’t help but be obnoxious assholes at the table when things aren’t going their way. We see the variance-deniers who will continually heap praise upon themselves for how well they keep playing, in spite of their terrible luck. We see those that suddenly, “...ah, fuck those guys, don’t even care anyway! 🍺”

 

With me I deal in hard truths. {Me to myself:} You’re showing up, every part of you is showing up, it matters. Yes, the math says you could have a terrible summer. If that happens, you better not have any Goddamned excuses for it. Could have tried harder. Didn’t really apply myself at the end. Could have done this thing but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself over that thing. No. If the math gets you, your balls are getting properly chopped off, and at least you'll be able to hold your head high enough to not watch it happen. There's always therapy for that anyway.

 

The advice I’d share with anyone coming to the WSOP is to keep that big game mentality as long as you can. Be in alignment with yourself. Does it matter? How much? If it really matters, don’t be someone who runs from that or drops their bundle when things are going against you. Embody how much you care and rise to the challenge. There’s a reason why every year select players continue to defy logic with the amount of success they have throughout the Series – not because it statistically should happen to some; because the competition falls away so dispiritedly. Sombre variance-acknowledgers leave wads of cash on the tables every year. Keep checking in with yourself and play to the final siren, no matter what.

 

__________

Ps. The “Make sure you have fun!” message within this should be really obvious. If you commit yourself to actually showing up, balls and all – few things could be more exciting than the dance itself... that delightfully torturous wait as you anticipate whether those balls are about to be gently warmed... or severed from you with the strike of a guillotine. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

Signing off,
James

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