Why play poker? This might sound like a dumb question to ask to a bunch of people reading a poker book. However I think it is a question that is so basic that many of us often overlook it. And the answer to it provides some valuable lessons.
"I think that before I get started on anything related to poker strategy a question that needs to be asked is why should we play this game in the first place? It’s not that I am trying to convince you to play poker. You wouldn’t be reading this book without a pretty serious interest in it. I want to talk about why we play this game more in the rhetorical sense. That is, to remind us why we play. Because this underpins everything.
There are plenty of other games out there from chess, to video games, to board games and on and on. I think one of the biggest reasons why people are drawn to poker over these other games is that it involves money. And if you get good enough, lots of it. There is a direct financial incentive for getting good at this game whereas that isn’t always the case with the other ones.
Now I don’t think that money is the end of it though. It does largely make the world go round’ and everybody could use some more of it. But there is also an excitement factor that intrigues people. Televised poker in particular, over the past 5 to 10 years, has really taken this game to new levels. There is a huge level of excitement in a massive all in pot, with millions on the line, that is just unmatched in almost any other sort of competition.
And I am no different. After being shown the game by some friends, I started playing online poker with play money on Partypoker in 2004, and then real money on Pokerstars a year later. While I enjoyed the challenge and strategy of the game from the start, my enthusiasm was definitely spurred by watching WPT episodes and “Rounders” for the 14th time. I had an almost romantic connection with the game from the start. I was obsessed with it.
I think this story is pretty similar with a lot of people. However, anyone who gets involved with this game, for any reasonable length of time, soon learns that the reality of poker is quite a bit different. While it is exciting and constantly new and interesting, it can also be very boring at times, feel like a job, and be downright frustrating. That is, if you want to be a winning poker player. Losing poker players always have fun. As I often say, winning poker is simply an exercise in pain tolerance much of the time.
Well I hope you haven’t thrown this book in your trash bin yet after that and are still with me. The truth is poker is a beautiful game. It is amazing on so many levels and has so many direct comparisons with events and situations in our lives. I have always thought that poker is really just a microcosm of life. Poker rewards things like hard work, level headed thinking under pressure, discipline, and risk management. These are all traits that will also take you very far in your other pursuits in life."
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