Poker Optimism

It’s a familiar mindset that we’ve all experienced.

The day is Friday, and the paychecks are in. And as much as we tell ourselves that we’re going to do something constructive with the extra cash in our pockets, somehow we justify taking just a little out in order to gamble. Then we say one of the worst possible things a gambler can say to himself: “I can comfortably afford to lose this.”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s online, at a home game or during a weekend excursion to Vegas or Atlantic City. This mindset needs to stop. Now, I’m not advocating that everybody stop gambling their income away. Not at all. In fact, life would be a lot less exciting without the possibility of placing large sums of money on a color as a wheel spins around. There’s a part in all of us that can empathize with Clark Griswold in Vegas Vacation as he leaves his family at the breakfast table for a quick (losing) Roulette bet.

Yet poker is different. Unlike almost any other game at a casino, the player is able to win in the long run. With this realization should come a kind of discipline, along with an understanding that it’s a world away from that wonderful spinning ball of fate.

But somehow nothing changes in the minds of a lot of people when they approach a poker table. This is why professional poker players have existed for a long time, and will continue to do so. They make their living off the “I can comfortably afford to lose this” mindset of others.

If everyone who has thought this way at some time or another would just take a step back, they’d realize how ridiculous it truly is. Why not just flush the money down the toilet, wait until it gets caught in the spiral, and then try to retrieve it? It’s the exact same principal as sitting down at a table with a bunch of players who don’t plan on losing. Or maybe just light it on fire and try to put out the flames at the last possible second before the bills become unrecognizable.

Everyone, whatever their expertise, should always go into a poker game expecting to win. Of course, they’re not always going to, and no matter how emboldened they may be the pros are still a million miles ahead. But what’s wrong with a little optimism? If you can’t at least bring optimism to a poker table, then you might as well hook yourself up to a slot machine and start chasing cherries.

So here’s my suggestion: Don’t look at poker money as disposable income. Play your heart out and enjoy yourself. Don’t slouch over the table and watch your money trickle away just because you believe you can “comfortably lose it.” Have a good meal, settle down with a nice beer, and plan on taking the stacks of everyone at the table. Don’t count the money you put at the table as a loss before the cards are even in the air.

Besides, if you do well you can always take your winnings and place them on a sure thing: betting black after red has hit 20 times in a row.