“There are two types of pain you will suffer in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tonnes.” —Jim Rohn
This quote resonates with me for a number of reasons. It’s applicable to many aspects of life, including health, work, relationships— and of course poker. I was reminded of this fact a while ago when I heard from an old poker-playing friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in months. My friend sent an email congratulating me on something I had done in my career that was big and noteworthy. But then my friend went on about his own “plans” for the future. I had inspired him, he said, and now he was going to do something with his own life.
Sounds good, right?
I wish. Let me explain…
I’ve known this friend for over a decade, and while he is a great guy with a heart of gold, he’s also someone who just talks the talk, and never walks the walk.
My friend is constantly saying he’s going to do this or do that. He’s going to turn his whole life around, and poker is high on his priority list. He’s going to finally get serious studying the game. He’s going to start coaching other students. Blog more often. Get his own website up and running. He’s going to get in shape, and play more seriously, and never tilt again, and… well, blah, blah, blah.
Of course every few months or so he comes back to me with a new excuse. He’ll say, “I wish I’d gotten busy doing X, Y or Z, but the timing didn’t work out. There were far too many other things in the way. But now everything is different. Now everything is going to change!”
Sure. Talking to people like this is tiring, but I tend to suffer it in silence. I wish I was braver and could speak my mind to my friend, as what he really needs is a kick in the butt and not someone to nod their head and agree that this time will indeed be different.
This situation reminds me of a column that the great automotive writer Peter Egan once wrote in Road and Track about getting off your duff and actually doing what you’ve been talking about doing. In the column, Egan related a story in which he and a buddy were working on a homebuilt race car at an amateur road race event they were going to run that weekend. A stranger walked up to them in the paddock and remarked that he was envious of them and that he had always wanted to get into amateur racing.
Egan replied something noncommittal, like “That’s nice, sir.” But Egan’s friend put down his tools and turned to the stranger. He said, “No, sir, you never really wanted to get into racing. So why don’t you just move along?”
“Huh?” replied the stranger.
Egan’s friend went on, “People like you always say things like that. But if they truly wanted to do something like race a car, they would find a way to make it happen. You don’t really want to go racing. Not really, or you would have found a way to make it happen. Quit wasting our time, and just move along.”
Bravo! This is so true of so many things in life, including getting better at poker. So many of us tell ourselves we’re going to study. We tell our friends we are going to play better. We tell ourselves that we’ll finally get in shape, begin leak-finding our sessions, study the math of the game, learn to hand read, join a discussion group, and so on.
But then we never do.
There are so many people I know that say they want to become winning players, yet these same people never seem to get off their damn butts and actually do what it takes to become a winning player. They dream of the future, but then make excuses in the present. They’re unwilling to lift the ounces of discipline to study and work on their game, but they’re more than willing to shoulder the tonnes of regret that will come months and years later.
I sincerely hope you’re not one of these people. And if you are, just stop. You’re wasting my time. More importantly, you’re wasting yours. Quit making excuses. Admit that you really don’t want to get better at the game and go find a different hobby, or at least quit whining about losing if you do stick around to play.
Learning to win at poker isn’t rocket science, people. It just takes discipline, some knowledge, and some work. My old poker-playing friend is a smart guy, and I know that he knows this. But I also know that he’ll never get serious about the game. It’s been over a decade of waiting for him to do something. If it hasn’t happened by now, it ain’t never gonna happen.
So, just move along…
Exceptional Poker — Learn. Master. Crush.