World Series of Poker Europe

From the Big Screen to the Final Table: The Empire Strikes Back

Ace King

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.

Although “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” may be the least heralded of the Star Wars trilogy, the film offers numerous nuggets of wisdom thanks to Luke Skywalker's little green friend and teacher Yoda. One of the Jedi Master's best lines comes while he is trying to teach Skywalker a lesson that is applicable to the poker table.

“Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'”

Always be ready for action

This means treat yourself well and do the things you need to so you can be in the right frame of mind going into the day's action. In other words, instead of going out and partying until dawn the night before a tournament, go to bed at a sensible hour so you are well-rested. If this means avoiding heavy foods the night before so your stomach is in good shape for a 12-hour day and you're not running off to the bathroom every five minutes, then do it. It is crucial for poker players to learn that to be a winner, you have to prepare like a winner. Other top-flight athletes aren't out gallivanting the night before a big match or stuffing themselves with refried beans, so why would poker players do these things if they wanted to be successful?

Pay attention or don't play

Making excuses in poker gets you nowhere and it is a quick way to end up in the poorhouse. Players need to be able to analyze their performance on a moment's notice and if you are being unrealistic with yourself, you are bound to make bad plays because luck and variance can only carry you so far. Make sure your head is in the game and try to limit distractions that pull your focus away from the task at hand and that can cripple you if you miss key information during a hand.

A chip and a chair is all you need

A number of players have made remarkable comebacks despite facing ridiculous odds but you can't give up Recent Borgata Poker Open winner Oliver Busquet faced a 21-1 chip differential before he won the event. Winning poker players are resilient. Players need to be able to rebound from a big hit without tilting and throwing their remaining stack away. If Chris Ferguson can come back from almost no chips to win an event, so can you. Just keep your head in the game and pick your spots. Otherwise, you're just wasting time before you hit the rail and you do yourself no justice.

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