We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
What do you mean, you didn’t know today is Poker Day? You missed the memo? You didn’t see it marked in big red letters on your calendar?! Ok, don’t panic. You can still keep your poker license, you haven’t missed anything. It’s just another of those totally arbitrary and subjective things that I like to do.
But for the record February 2nd is – at least in my quirky little world – the auspicious day when I celebrate the first time I ‘came out’ as a poker player to some of my non-playing friends. It was when I realised a couple of years back that this was a game that was going to become very much a part of my life. Feb 2nd is also the Christian feast of Candlemas, marking – as it’s 40 days from 25th December – the end of Christmastide but even I would struggle to squeeze an analogy out of that one! But hey, I never say never so something may come to me in the future 😉
And on this year’s Poker Day, I plan to mark it in the same way that I did last year. And it’s something that I would suggest to anybody as a useful psychological exercise, especially if you’re in one of those periodic slumps in your game and your confidence is being hit. I dug out the very first book on Hold ‘Em that I bought and flipped through it again. And as I did that I marveled at how what seemed like at the time incomprehensible pages of strategy and advice, was now perfectly clear. It all made sense. Now, that’s not to say that I am managing to apply it all perfectly but rather than that feeling of bewilderment, it was wonderful to realise that I had gained a familiarity with concepts that were once so mysterious.
So I would suggest that if you’re worried about whether you’ve actually managed to improve at all – which is a classic reaction during for example a bad downswing – look back at how far you’ve come. Find the first book or online article that you ever read. See how much you understand on a deep level now. Rejoice in what the game has given you. And in spite of the losses and downswings and hits on the confidence, remember well all that has been opened up to you by this amazing gift of Poker. Give thanks and although in one sense, we must never rest on our laurels and relax, it is also good to mark our progress and see how far we have journeyed.
And I hope that it’s obvious that such an exercise does not only apply to poker but to every element of our lives. If we can look at what we have done, what we possess along with all the experiences and people that are special to us and then celebrate all such blessings, we will surely look at life in a much more calm and satisfied way.
Again, this doesn’t mean that we just sit back and see it as an excuse to do nothing. Rather, it means we don’t allow our desire to better our situation to cloud our view on how good that situation already is.
And there’s no doubt that for me, poker has brought so many wonderful experiences, intellectual challenges and particularly in recent times with my venturing into the live game, a whole new social angle – all of which on this day of days I would like to celebrate.
So allow me to wish you a very Happy Poker Day. A most arbitrary of celebrations and unlikely alas to ever be a public holiday but I hope that you will at least take a moment to remember all that this most captivating – and utterly frustrating! – of games has given you.
And I leave you with the words of an old Dorothy Fields song that has been running through my head as I type this out. It’s a neat reminder that none of us are born experts or professionals. We all start with the same blank sheet. What’s important is not our origins but the goal to which it all leads…
It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.
A hundred to one shot, they call him a klutz —
Can out-run the fav’rite, all he needs is the guts.