In this post, I’m going to share the ultimate secret about how to become lucky in poker.
But first, here’s a bold-faced confession: I used to get upset after every bad beat I took; in fact, I was so bad that I was nicknamed ‘Tilted Torelli’ by Antonio Esfandiari.
I legitimately had the audacity to believe that because I got unlucky at the poker table, playing with discretionary money, that I was somehow an unlucky person.
My entitlement tilt led to a confirmation biasm, where I frequently note the unlucky situations while ignoring lucky times, and the vicious cycle continued.
I imagine I was quite annoying to be around. My friends teased and needled me; but truth be told, I’m surprised they put up with me at all: There’s nothing worse than people who are objectively born lucky yet complain about their bad luck.
The divide between my perspective and reality took me a long time to overcome. Growing up in Southern California, it never occurred to me how lucky I was living in a first world country. Indeed, when most everyone around you is blessed with prosperity, even good fortune begins to seem normal.
I’d like to say this happened overnight with some epic story, but the truth is it took years for me to slowly grasp this concept.
But the icing on the cake was when I decided to move out to Macau to compete in the biggest poker games in the world; as a result, I had the opportunity to travel extensively through South East Asia. It was there that I truly started to see what it means to be dealt a bad hand.
Living in places like Thailand and Bali, I got to see real problems first-hand: what we in the first world, complain about—the barista getting the order wrong, for example—is laughable in comparison to how the rest of the world lives.
Half of the world lives on $2.50 per day. That’s a true problem.
The fact is, if you’re reading this post, the smartphone in your hand costs more than half the world makes in a year. That alone means you were dealt a winning hand in life.
Where I went wrong in the past was comparing my hand to others. I’ve noticed a common thread; that is, we have the tendency to only compare our hand to those in better situations, which is a recipe for disaster.
It’s like getting dealt pocket kings and complaining that someone else has aces, except that unlike poker, life is not a zero-sum game. The fact that someone has a better hand doesn’t take away from our ability to win.
We do not live in a world of scarcity. There’s an unlimited supply of wealth creation possible, and we need not worry about someone who has it better easier or luckier than us.
Winners focus on winning, while losers focus on winners. Focus on what you can control—playing your hand the best way possible—and forget about the rest.
Another lesson I learned the hard way is that the only people who care about your bad beat stories are other losing players. No top professionals have the time nor energy to give attention to things they can’t control.
They’re busy focusing on how to optimize their decision in the next hand, because that’s where the opportunity lies.
Surround yourself with winners who are in love with the process, not fixated on the results. Remember that you too were dealt a winning hand, and that at times it can be easy to forget: simply because, well, we were all dealt winners.
Lastly, there’s no law that says luck must be distributed evenly. It isn’t. Nonetheless, simply being born in a wealthy nation automatically means that you’re running far above average and no bad beat can take that away.
So if you haven’t grasped it by now, here’s the ultimate secret for how to become lucky in poker: you already are.
I hope you enjoyed this post on how to become lucky in poker. Drop me your thoughts in a comment below.