From the Big Screen to the Final Table: The Godfather
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
The Godfather is well-known for having introduced audiences to numerous catch-phrases and many are applicable to poker, but the one that stands out the most to me is Tom Hagen's (Robert Duvall) words to Sonny (James Caan) as he tries to calm down the Godfather's son after an assassination attempt on the Don. Played brilliantly by Duvall, Hagen's nugget of wisdom was an attempt to try to put things into perspective for Sonny before he steers his father's crime family into war against another family.
“This is business not personal.”
Forget what you see at the table; many poker players are good souls.
Although the mantra of kill or be killed pervades every essence of the game, many players act differently when they are off the felt. Because the object of the game is to take out all challengers, poker forces people to adopt personas at the table that are far from reality once the action is over. In other words, despite the fact that some of today's top players may act like jerks while at the table with their trash-talking and maniac antics, in the end, they are solid human beings who do what they can with their celebrity to make the world a better place. One example of this is Phil Hellmuth. Despite annoying some players with his antics, Hellmuth raises money for the Taser Foundation, a group dedicated to providing financial support to the families of local, state, provincial, and federal law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Canada who were lost in the line of duty.
At the end of the day, it is only a game.
Whether a person sucks out on you or whether you log a losing session, you have to let it go. People who allow their frustration to come to a head, like the guy who murdered another player at the Taj in Atlantic City last year, are ticking time bombs that need to be avoided. This means that no matter how bad a player is treating you at the tables, you have to let it go when you step away. This isn't the old days when people went outside and settled things with their fists. Today, people shoot guns or stab people. This world is full of crazies and you never know how people are going to act once you leave the tables. When you combine alcohol, losing hands and a chemical imbalance in the brain, trouble is bound to happen at some point as the stress can tilt a person over the edge. This doesn't mean that you let people treat you (or a dealer) badly, but it does mean there are ways to handle things without adding fuel to an unstable person's already demented head. Try to speak to the floor supervisor so that the casino can intervene on your behalf and let things cool down. The worst thing you can do is to try to confront the unstable person because no matter what you do it will seem like an attack. At the end of the day, it is just a game and it is certainly not worth dying for.
Play hard or go home.
You are not at the table to make friends. You are there to win. This doesn't mean you act like an ass, but it does mean that you recognize that you have no friends when you’re in a hand. Regardless of what you may know about a person going into a hand, you must let this information go when you are trying to make decisions. Focus on the moment or you may falter. Remember, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.