Betcha can’t turn your computer off. See. Told you.
Oh, you weren’t ready? You didn’t know there was a challenge coming?
Okay. Take your time.
Time’s up. So, what’d you decide? You don’t want to take the dare? You just want to keep your computer on and have me go away?
I’ll be gone, soon enough. But first, let me tell you the prize, so that you will know what it is you are saying no to. Turn your computer off, right now, and you will increase your poker strength.
On three. One... Two... Three. Still here? What, you don’t want your poker score to go up?
If you want to get better at poker, then you have to get better at stopping. If you want to get better at stopping, then you have to practice stopping. Here’s how. Take something you are doing, anytime, anywhere, and stop doing it, for no reason.
For instance, let’s say you are walking. And then all of a sudden you stop walking. Technically, that would be stopping walking. But if the reason you stopped walking is because you arrived at a destination, well, sorry, that’s not good enough. In order for your stopping to count as stopping, it has to be done intentionally intentionlessly. That’s right. I said you must stop on purpose, but with no purpose. And if none of this makes sense to you, that’s only because you haven’t started stopping yet.
Okay, let’s try something. A practice stop. I’ll do it with you. Here’s what you do. Close your eyes. Wait. Not yet. First you have to finish reading the instructions. Okay. On the count of three, I want you to close your eyes, close your lips, reel in your busy hands and place them in your lap… and inhale, then exhale, then again, then again. Three breaths is all. That’s a full stop.
Think of this as a gift from you to you. Okay. On the count of three, we are going to stop and count to three. Here we go.
One... Two... Three.
Okay, where were we?
What’s that? You want me to go back to the part about getting better at poker and explain just what the hell I am getting at here? All right, all right... you deserve that much I suppose, whether or not you did the stopping thing.
The surest way to get better at poker is to get better at everything and have poker rise with the tide. Let’s say you wanted to get better at listening. Or you wanted to get better at not getting upset. Or... let’s say you wanted to get better at knowing what to do when you get check-raised on the turn.
What gets in the way of your listening? Your thoughts do. Why do you get upset? Because you think thoughts that are upsetting. Why do you lose focus at the poker table? Because your thoughts are streaming by, taking you with them, into the past and future.
The thing to do is to learn how to stop your thoughtless thinking, whenever you want to, in order to clear room for something better. If you want to be as good as you can be at poker, you need a mind that is so strong it can stop itself.
Wanna know how to get one? It’s real simple. And real hard. You have to think of your mind as a muscle, and then put it through resistance training, over and over, like at the gym. Let’s try that beginner’s exercise I showed you. Okay, here we go. Hands in lap. Mouth closed. Eyes closed. Three breaths. Ready. Go.
At this point, all readers of this article can be broken into two groups. Those who did the stopping, and those who didn’t. I have a closing message for each.
To those who did not stop, it’s okay. You will have infinite opportunities to start stopping.
To those who did stop, you really do deserve something special, especially if it was your first time. So I am going to give you a very valuable reward. It comes in the form of another challenge.
Betcha can’t do it again.
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