FML. I am proud to say that I’m at least six-months clean of voicing this phrase.
As I once contributed to PokerNews' Top 10 Most Overused Poker Terms, does your life really suck that hard when you can walk your sorry butt on your two perfectly healthy legs out the door of the casino and into your fancy car, or smash your computer mouse against your brand new 17-inch Macbook Pro sitting atop your state-of-the-art grinding station at home? It must really suck to be you.
Most of us forget that we control our minds; our minds don't control us. So when it feels so bad to always fall to the negative, why do we do it so often? Why do we focus on what went wrong or what we lost or what we don’t have? What about everything that went right in the process, and the abundance of what we do have?
You have chosen to play poker, so you have made an agreement with yourself to accept the swings. If you haven’t, then you need to reconsider your career. The true deciding factor on whether you’re a winning player in any situation is the way you process those situations. Despite winning or losing in a monetary sense, what did you learn? Every time we sit at a table, we learn. That’s why we keep coming back for more. During the 2010 World Series of Poker, Australian poker player Peter Aristidou gave me a valuable piece of advice for every time I take my seat at a cash game. As soon as I buy in for $300, I need to consider that money gone. It’s no longer mine. So when I make a trip to the cage after a session, even if I don’t need a rack, it’s still a win. That attitude allows me to stand up from any “losing” situation with a positive attitude about what I learned in that session and why I’m empty handed. If I can’t get past losing the $300, then I should have been
drinking cocktails grinding in the $.50/$1 at MGM instead.
Eckhart Tolle describes in his book, The Poker of Now, that unease, anxiety, tension, stress and worry are caused by fear of the future. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by focusing on the past. What about the present? What just happened at the table is already in the past. See what happened, learn from it, but then let the emotion go. Don’t go into the situation for hours with resentment, focusing on how awful the other player was or telling bad-beat stories to all of your friends about how bad you run. Does that actually change anything for you? Quite possibly, yes, but in a negative way. Convincing yourself that you’re doomed, and sitting at a table chanting, “FML, I run so bad,” to yourself will just encourage that behavior to continue while you block yourself from seeing the valuable lessons being handed to you.
Focus on this moment, this second, right now. You have the choice to make it a joyful second. And the next. How? Well, how do you drop a hot plate that’s in your hand or a heavy piece of luggage? You feel it, and then simply decide to let it go for relief. It’s your choice.
The vital lesson in all of this is to keep learning. Mexican Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen's opinion on a poker player’s philosophy is, "Don't be passive about it, maybe you think you can't change things so you do nothing, but there is always an action to be taken, maybe it's just having a better attitude in all situations. Is 'hoping for good things' going to make the difference? Well, that's for you to believe or not. But I'm sure anxiety, stress and frustration are all taking away energy from you and making you weaker." An "oh well" attitude is not necessarily positive thinking. That’s being passive rather than open-minded enough to look at what you can do to improve next time. Feeling and then letting go of the frustration, taking the lesson and using it to your advantage the next time you sit down, while bringing a positive attitude for your new game — that's being open-minded.
Positive thinking takes time, and I’m still often guilty of falling to the negative, but simply removing those three evil letters from your vocabulary is the perfect start. I suggest you replace them with these two letters: LG… Life’s Good!
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