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Texas Holdem Poker


by: Lou Krieger

Now you can become an excellent poker player in the wink of an eye...in an instant...in a nanosecond. Just like that, and in less time than it took you to read from there to here.

Is this a scam? Some kind of offering from an esoteric self-improvement guru? Isn’t excellence a long time in the making? Nope. None of the above. You can do it right now. It’s the real deal. Here’s how you can accomplish this wondrous feat. Like the Nike commercials admonish us, Just do it!

Make the commitment, and it’s done. Then, work your tail off every day for the rest of your life to make sure it stays done. IBM founder Thomas Watson said, “If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent stuff.” Simple sounding? Sure, but like the Golden Rule, most profound truths are simple.

A while back Mason Malmuth wrote about having “...a zero tilt factor.” That seemingly simple statement is really quite profound. After all, here is a man who thinks deeply about poker, and whose expertise is grounded in statistical theory -- some of which is quite complex. Yet that statement about “zero tilt factor,” which is nothing more than a commitment each of us could choose to make, might just account for as much of Malmuth’s own poker success as all his technical knowledge.

Because his statement really touched a nerve in me, I consciously committed to zero tilt factor (or ZTF, as I like to call it). I simply made a commitment that I would never, ever go on tilt again. Not for one session, nor one hour, or even one hand. That commitment alone gives me an extra edge over any player who goes on tilt. The money they throw off, I’ll catch! How many of you can say the same thing about your own game -- that you never go on tilt. Not sometimes, not occasionally, but never.

The key to excellence is making a commitment. Wishing or wanting to achieve excellence is not enough. Neither is it sufficient to merely involve yourself in a a try for excellence. You have to commit to it. Make no bones about it, there is a significant difference between involvement and commitment, and it’s like the difference between ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the ham is committed!

Want to be a great poker player? Commit to greatness. Sure, you won’t be any better 10 minutes after you’ve made that commitment than you are right now. But commitment is a necessary first step down a long road. You’ll need to read up, think about the game while you’re at the table and when you’re away from it, model your own game after players you respect, talk to winning players whose game you admire -- and you’ll need to keep on doing the things it takes to guarantee yourself the best of it, until your deal is done.

Still, you can declare your excellence tonight, starting with the first hand you play. How do you begin? Visualize yourself as the greatest poker player ever -- and act accordingly. Sound silly? Even embarrassing? It’s not. A few years ago, before I started writing for Card Player, the instructor in a writing class told me, “The way to become a published writer is easy. Just put on the hat of a writer, and you’ll grow into it!”

Yup. Just do it. And you know what? It works! Someone, I’m not sure who, said, “Ninety percent of success is just showing up.” That’s what this is all about, showing up -- and showing up every time you play for the rest of your playing life. Commitment -- that unbreakable bond to excellence, while easily made, carries with it this mandate: I will picture myself as the greatest poker player ever, and always play accordingly.

Sure, you’ll slide through valleys on your road to the heights. So what! Life is not a kindergarten, and most things worthwhile do not come without enduring struggle and adversity.

Here’s a terrific opportunity. When you sit in your game tonight, play like an excellent player. Don’t delude yourself into playing a less-than-quality hand because you “...have a feeling.” Don’t play tired, and don’t take the worst of it. Make the plays a top player would. You already know much of what they do. You only need to apply it, and apply it every time you sit in a game. Never, but never, allow or permit yourself to play less than your best. That’s what commitment is all about. That’s the decision you make in the wink of an eye.

And if you don’t know what a top player would do in a given situation, that, too, is an opportunity. It’s a chance to learn. To keep your commitment you need to learn something new every day. And once you learn it, go out and practice it. Making that commitment, and having decided to do what it takes to achieve excellence as a poker player, never do anything, no matter how trivial, inconsistent with your commitment.

Here’s the truth, and it’s simple. It does not take long to make changes. It takes forever to maintain change, but changes of the most dramatic, fundamental and far-reaching sorts, can be had instantly and made today. It’s true with diets, smoking and becoming a great poker player. Want to quit smoking? Just give up cigarettes! Want to lose weight? Don’t eat any fats and exercise aerobically for thirty minutes every day! It will work for you when you work at it. Want to be a better poker player? Commit to playing better. Then do it.

But remember, it’s all-or-nothing. You either commit to making change or you don’t. Saying you’re going to change, and then doing it -- except for five or six weak hands you decided to play because you were tired, or you had a hunch, or whatever, just doesn’t cut it. You’re either there or your not -- on the bus or off the bus. No in-betweens allowed, and this is a bet you can’t hedge.

You want to be a top-notch poker player? Great. Go ahead and commit to it. Do it and it’s done. You can reach excellence in a heartbeat, and you can do it today. But if you do, there’ll be no more talk about bad beats, or that dealer who kills you. Once you commit to achieving excellence and being the best poker player alive, you can never again place the blame for your failures or fortune on anyone else. Your results are your own. You own them and they own you.

And if you decide not to make that commitment, it’s no big deal. Just recognize the truth for what it is. You’re a recreational player who cares more for enjoyment than results. Nothing wrong with that, but you can’t have it both ways. If you want to be a winning, excellent player, go ahead and do it. It takes no time at all to achieve change, but it will take forever to maintain it. It’s that simple. Really.

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