I played cards for a few years, and I quite enjoyed it. I don't play any more, but sometimes a lesson I learned comes back to me.
There's one writer on poker I learned a tremendous amount from. His name's Mike Caro, and he was one of the first people taking serious interest in the psychology of poker. He wrote a famous book called "Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells", which is excellent and highly recommended. The basic premise is that people act strong when weak and weak when strong. So if you hear a very little sigh when someone is betting, almost like they're sad, then they've probably got a strong hand. If they're pushing the chips forwards with a little extra force when betting, they're probably bluffing.
This was all very fascinating to me, I loved learning that kind of thing. I'd recommend Caro's Book of Tells to anyone, regardless if you play cards or not. But he also has written quite a bit on self-psychology and discipline in poker. Today I recalled one of Caro's general principles:
Caro’s Threshold of Misery suggests that once you move beyond the maximum you expected you could lose, you stop feeling any more pain, and you’re in danger of damaging yourself further by making weak decisions.
I teach that you’re supposed to keep right on playing well, even after you cross that threshold. You’ve got to remind yourself that even though things don’t seem to matter now, there will come a time when they do matter. So, make good decisions. Maybe right now it doesn’t seem to matter a lick whether you lose $4,495 or $4,125, but there will come a time when that $370 matters again. Always play poker as if that time is now. That’s important and I’ll repeat it. There will come a time when that $370 matters again and you should play poker as if that time is now. - Poker1.com
The Threshold of Misery is when things are so bad, you don't care if they get gradually worse. Dangerous place to be.
I overslept twice this morning. I was set up to get up after 4 hours and jump all over the day, but then overslept... when I got up the second time, I was disappointed, I said, "Ah, screw it, I already missed my schedule" - and went back to sleep again. Similar to the threshold of misery. I try to remember - it might not matter now, but it will matter later.
Anyway, I wholeheartedly recommend Caro's Book of Tells - even if you don't play cards, it has huge value for understanding other people and yourself. It's a fast, enjoyable read too. Highly recommended:
Just got a comment on "Having Your Own Ethics is Lonely" by a reader. He asked one of the hardest questions about becoming successful - what happens when you're improving when your friends aren't?
I found this blog because I'm looking for advice. I've realized four years ago that I was unhappy with myself. I lived a poor, and dead end life. So I decided to look closely at my lifestyle and eliminate some bad habits and replace them with good ones. I also got a second job to make more money, and lived in relative poverty by choice. And it worked! I'm healthy financially and I've gotten a chance to learn anything I've wanted to know. I'm strong and smarter than I used to be. I think I know what God is, and everyday I work to be better than the day before. But, I can't connect with my old friends because they do all the things I dont want to be a part of any more, because they dont care to do well for themselves as much. In a way, to put it bluntly, they're not usefull to me. I'd rather make friends with people I truely admire and respect. I dont feel like I can tell them that I basically think they're bad people. They've done nothing to harm me personally, but I want nothing to do with them. What do you think?
Indeed, that's one of the hardest parts about becoming successful.
Most people don't like to change after they get established. If you improve quickly, it can upset and turn off old friends and cause breaks in friendship.
Perhaps the worst time is when you're still on a shaky ground with your old improvement. I remember one time, I was going through a super healthy kick. Lots of gym, weights, very clean and healthy diet. But with one of my buddies, we always ate junk food together when we got together. Pizza, chicken wings, burgers and fries, stuff like that.
In poker there's an ideal called "tight and aggressive". The idea is to play a very small selection of hands, but to then play those hands very aggressively.
You play a small selection because many hands are statistical underdogs no matter how well you play them. You'll get lucky here and there, but in the long run you'll lose money on those hands because they're too weak compared to what others are likely to have.
You play aggressively because you need to extract as much value as possible out of the few hands you play. Besides giving your opponent more opportunities to give up, playing aggressively lets you milk the most out of each hand. You're betting and raising, not checking and calling.
It occurred to me today that, like many things in poker, tight and aggressive is a good parallel to real life. You feel like a champion when you play tight and aggressive in poker, and you also feel that way in real life.