Poker Strategy

Let Warren Buffett’s Business Partner Increase Your Poker Bottom Line

Although far more people are familiar with the name Warren Buffett, it is his recently passed away business partner Charlie Munger, who Buffett credits for the bulk of their success. In a 2000 letter to investors, Buffett said of Munger: “Charlie thinks about business economics and investment matters better than anyone I know, and I’ve learned a lot over the years by listening to him”

Not only was Munger one of the most successful investors of all time, but he was renowned for his sharp wit and the way in which he could distill complicated ideas into powerful one-liners that packed a real punch, both for traditional investors and those in similar fields, poker being one.

With that in mind, here are three powerful Charlie Munger zingers that will help you become a better poker player and all-around money manager.

  1. Do Nothing

“It takes character to sit there with all that cash and do nothing. I didn’t get to where I am by going after mediocre opportunities.”

One of the biggest and most common leaks inexperienced poker players have is trying to win every hand. However, poker, just like stock market investing, is often the plays you don’t make – and the chips you don’t lose – rather than the ones you do. This is especially true in tournament and satellite poker, where Independent Chip Model (ICM) considerations are sometimes more important than the cards themselves.

For example, say you find yourself second in chips on the bubble of a satellite awarding 10 packages to the World Series Of Poker Main Event with 11 players left. In this scenario, ICM would dictate you fold pocket aces to a shove from the chip leader, even if they were playing their cards face-up and flashing 72o.

Although most situations won’t be so black and white, new poker players would be wise to heed Munger’s advice and not cause themselves pain going after mediocre opportunities.  As Munger famously said: “The big money is not in the buying and selling, but in the waiting.”

  1. Don’t Be An Idiot

“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”

Do you suck playing out of the small blind?

Not sure how to deal with overly aggressive players?

Struggle to construct an out-of-position c-betting range when the flop brings overcards?

Whatever your weakness is, figure it out and become obsessed with figuring out solutions. To be a profitable poker player, especially at the lower stakes, you don’t have to be brilliant; you just need to be useful (to yourself) and make it your goal to figure out exactly what you don’t know.

As another Munger wisdom goes: “You don’t have to have perfect wisdom to get very rich. Just a bit better than average over a long period of time.”

  1. Be Smarter Than A Duck

“Bull markets go to people’s heads. If you’re a duck on a pond, and it’s rising due to a downpour, you start going up in the world. But you think it’s you, not the pond.”

Echoing one of the insights of another legendary investor, Munger believed   that humility is a key characteristic of a successful investor, particularly during bull markets. The same can be said of a successful poker player, who will go through many “bull markets” of their own in the form of a hot run of cards that make it seems as if they have cracked the game.

Recognizing that, no matter how good you get, card distribution and variance will have a huge influence on your success on any given day, will allow you to stay grounded and feel gratitude for the rain without deluding yourself into thinking you are the pond.

By integrating these lessons from one of the greatest money-makers of all time – patience, accurate self-analysis, and humility – you can put yourself in a better position to succeed at the poker table and make use of the wisdom it took Munger a lifetime to acquire.

Rest in peace, Charlie.

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