In my last blog entry I discussed how important timing is poker and in life. I know some people will view good timing just as luck… so i thought I would share my views on how important the element of luck is in both poker and life.
Some people think poker is “just” luck… they think it’s a game of chance… and that skill has nothing, or very little to do with it. In poker you definitely need some luck, you need to win your races, you need to to hit that card on the river, etc. etc. etc. But poker isn’t just luck, skill is definitely a major component of consistent success and profit in poker.
In my experience many of the people who say poker is just luck, are loosing players, they haven’t studied the game, they don’t learn from their mistakes, and they keep making the same stupid plays, and wondering why it didn’t work for them, but it worked for the pro when they seen it on TV. Im pretty sure the same people who think poker is “just luck” probably think the guy they went to school with who didn’t have 2 brian cells to rub together and is now a self made millionaire… well he is probably just lucky too.
Luck is an important element in poker, but luck is also an important element in life.
Everyone experiences good luck and bad luck at the poker table and also in life. Sometimes you do everything right and you just get unlucky, but that’s life, it doesn’t just happen in poker, it happens in every day life. When these instances of bad luck happen, the effect of the consequence of this bad luck, is more to do with how we deal with it, and what it means to us. Some people dwell on it and go on and on and on about, they focus on the bad luck they have experienced, instead of focusing on what positive action they need to take to recover from it and get back on track.
“All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck – who keeps right on going – is the man who is there when the good luck comes – and is ready to receive it.” ~ Robert Collier
Any poker player will have heard the saying “A Chip and A Chair”, meaning that in a tournament no matter how short stacked you get as long as you are still in there, you can win it. The phrase was coined by Jack Straus, who won the 1982 world championship, coming back from just a single chip. Did he get lucky to win this? Yeah! Of course he did! But my bet is he looked at that one chip as an opportunity, where as many people would have looked at it as failure.
Luck happens to everyone, lucky opportunities present themselves to people all the time. Some people see it, and some people don’t. Of the people who do see it, not all will benefit from it, some people don’t have the knowledge, skills, experience, or just the guts to act upon it.
“Be ready when opportunity comes…Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.” ~ Roy D Chapin Jnr
When the property market was going up and up and up, everyone could see it, it was all around us, some people took action and invested in property and got lucky and they are now millionaires. When apple was releasing it’s new iphone, it was talked about in the news, newspapers, magazines, internet, every where, some people seen the opportunity to buy shares before it was released, and they got lucky and made a good profit. I recently started up a new online business www.zenrec.net, a unique and simple concept for the recruitment industry, some people might think I was lucky to come up with this idea. The point is there are opportunities to get lucky everyday but not everyone takes the action required to get lucky. You also see this in poker, many times watching a game on TV and you can see everyone’s hands, noone has connected with the board, many people may know if they bet they could get lucky and steal the pot, but they dont take the action, and someone with the worst hand bets, and they get lucky and win the pot.
Sometimes good luck happens to people who don’t deserve it, and any poker player knows the feeling when some donk sucks out on you. Almost every time I play a tournament, in the beginning you see some people building this big stack, but more often than not, these players who are leading in the beginning and relying on luck alone, they don’t last, and very few make it into the money or to the final table. You also see this in life, people get lucky but many times their luck runs out, and they end up worse off. You can’t rely on luck.
Some people are viewed as a lucky person. The key characteristics of lucky people include taking risks and knowing when the time is right.
Marc Myers outlined a few myths about luck in his book How to Make Luck: 7 Secrets Lucky People Use to Succeed.
Dispelling myths about luck:
Myth 1: Good luck is just another word for hard work and determination. Actually, Myers states that hard work has nothing to do with good luck! Success requires smart moves – which isn’t the same as working hard. Working hard can mean missing excellent opportunities that will take you further than intensive labor. Working hard can mean a too-narrow focus and passive acceptance of more hard work. A characteristic of lucky people is that they don’t necessarily work hard.
In poker some people play way too may hands, try to make too many moves, and get involved in too many situations. They are working way too hard! A lucky poker player won’t work as hard, they make smart moves, and they know when to make them.
Myth 2: You can’t influence good luck…you just have to let it take its course. Actually, you can take some of the randomness out of luck by taking an active role in your life. Instead of obsessing about whether you can actually get what you dream of, focus on ways to make it happen. Don’t look at “what if” or “it’ll never happen.” Convince yourself that it WILL happen, and you WILL get it eventually. A characteristic of lucky people is taking an active role in life.
I remember watching a poker documentary about Phil Helmuth and he had a piece of paper stuck to his wall or mirror that said “I am the luckiest player in the world”. If you believe you are lucky and that you will win, you stand a far better chance of getting to the final table than someone who believes they are unlucky and tells anyone will listen a list of all their bad beat stories.
Myth 3: To improve your luck, you need to meet the right people. Actually, Myers says that knowing the right people is only half of it. You can meet all the right people in the world but if you don’t know how or are afraid to pursue opportunities, you won’t achieve your goals. Knowing the right people is one thing; speaking up and taking risks is another. A characteristic of lucky people is that they take risks.
In No Limit, there is No Fear. You can’t be afraid in poker, you need to take risks. I love the saying “No Guts, No Glory!” Sooooo true!
Myth 4: Good luck happens when you aggressively promote yourself. Actually, being too aggressive can offend people. The more people you rub the wrong way by being pushy or overbearing, the less help, ideas, and resources you’ll have (and the less luck). Instead, be “gently persistent” when you call attention to yourself. A characteristic of lucky people is that they’re assertive, not aggressive.
In poker you need to be aggressive, but if you are too aggressive and you start making enemies at the table, people will be out to get you. Being assertive and using well timed aggression is the key to success and luck at the poker table.
Myth 5: Good luck is just good timing. Actually, Myers states that being in the right place at the right time is in your control! You can take steps to be right there when opportunity strikes. You can choose to include certain people, activities, and places in your life. The more wisely you choose and the more open you are, the more likely you are to experience “good timing”! A characteristic of lucky people is good timing.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you have any views on this topic please feel free to leave a comment. I will leave you with a very lucky hand, the final hand in the WSOP 2007.