Modern cinema is a great tool for teaching poker because it crosses cultural barriers in a way that few teaching elements can. All one needs to do is listen to the advice that can be found in the lines of a variety of films and then remember their relationship to playing poker. Now, this doesn’t mean you can repeatedly use a line from "Goodfellas" in conversation while playing, but it does mean you should keep in mind the concepts that go with the line.
Oliver Stone's groundbreaking Natural Born Killers set movie screens ablaze with a brutal take on today's bloodthirsty media-driven culture. Thanks to the film's unabashed look at society, we got several quotes from the film that are applicable to poker as Quentin Tarantino's words seem to fit perfectly with poker's primal characteristics. Micky Knox (Woody Harrelson) and journalist Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) offer this choice observation during a conversation.
Mickey: I realized my true calling in life.
Wayne Gale: What's that?
Mickey: Shit, man, I'm a natural born killer.
Take them down or be taken down
Poker is a predatory game. The object is to be the last player standing, and the only way to do that is to eliminate your opponents one by one. Consider yourself to be a lion grazing on the Serengeti Plain in northern Tanzania. You must establish your dominance and feed off the food chain by using keen hunting instincts. In essence, your goal is to chow down on the weak and bring home food for your pride. Big cats don't fear and neither should a poker player.
Either you've got the killer instinct or you don't.
If you are considering playing poker for a living, you must recognize whether you have what it takes or not. This means you have to be unflinching when it comes to assessing your game because if you flinch, you are a dead man walking. In other words, you will know whether you are ready through your past performance. If the results simply were not good enough, it's time to recognize that you're going to be one of the people who plays poker because they enjoy it, not someone who plays as a career. There is nothing wrong with being a recreational player, but there is something wrong with people who lie to themselves because they want desperately to believe that they have what it takes to make a career out of playing the game. Unfortunately many such people end up losing almost everything — money, relationships and friends — on a pipe dream that they should never have tried to follow in the first place.
One mistake does not a dead man make.
One of the great things going for us is that we can learn from our mistakes. There will always be other games and other tournaments, so as long as you are willing to plug the leaks in your game, one defeat is really no big deal. Sure, it's frustrating when you make a mistake, especially deep in an event, but that mistake may teach you a lesson that will change your game, not to mention improve parts of your game that could potentially help you collect a big payoff down the road. Learning from mistakes is the way you develop the killer instinct. Learn what you need to do to overcome. If you hit the rail because you screwed up, don't commit mental suicide over it. Figure out what you did wrong and change your game so that the next time you are in a position to score, you do.