Poker Strategy

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Words Will Transform Your Poker Game

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Words Will Transform Your Poker Game

Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of America’s most influential writers and philosophers, is a treasure-trove of insight for better living, both day-to-day as well as at the poker table.

Let’s take a look at three Emerson quotes that will immediately improve your poker game.

1. Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success.

Let’s state the obvious: today’s poker landscape is much tougher than it was 10 years ago. With the advent of the internet and the proliferation of high-level poker instruction and programming, online poker players, on average, are much more insightful than they once were.

Therefore, if we are to survive, let alone thrive, in this ultra-competitive pastime, we must instil within us a level of passion and enthusiasm that will withstand the unavoidable ups and downs built into a game where a 10% edge over opponents is considered huge.

Most importantly, that enthusiasm must be anchored not to profits or number of hands won – which ultimately remain out of our (complete) control – but for both the game itself as well as for the journey of self development.

When we can bring as much enthusiasm to reviewing hand histories as we do to firing up 4 cash game tables, when the lessons of our losses fill us with as much motivation as the big tournament scores, when developing emotional resilience is as exciting as dominating the table captain, then we have attained what Emerson calls the engine of success.

2. People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

Building on enthusiasm, Emerson implores us to pay attention to our perspective of the world at large.

When I sit at the table, do I expect to enjoy my time or am I just trying to avoid putting up a big loss?

When my chips go into the middle with JJ against AK, do I expect to win or am I preparing to complain “every single time!!”?

When my opponent outplays me, do I look at what they did with curiosity and enthusiasm for further development of my game, or do I call them an idiot and chuck my mouse across the room?

These actions are not independent incidents caused by external factors. They are a “confession of character” pointing out areas of weakness that need to be developed and optimized. The good news, especially for those who recognized pieces of themselves in the examples above, is that that path is one that the majority of successful poker players have had to traverse as well. The point isn’t to feel shame or defeat that you have not yet reached your most actualized form, but to (once again) develop the enthusiasm for the journey itself, no matter how many challenges are uncovered along the way.

3. Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing.

Speaking of the journey of becoming a successful poker player, it should be clear to anyone with an ounce of common sense that the path will be long and often arduous. On this, Emerson is clear – ambition is key for getting us in motion, but it is the work that allows us to achieve our goals.

Glory isn’t attained at the highest stakes, it is the result of the work put in on the way there.

It is the unglamorous grind of studying hand ranges.

It is the slow mastering of pot odds.

It is the uncomfortable critiquing of our own play.

It is the self-discipline to fold when your ego is screaming for a call.

Most importantly, it is the tireless quest for incremental improvement, stretched out over months and years (not sessions or days), that culminates in significant personal growth.

When we apply Emerson’s wisdom – when we bring enthusiasm to everything we do, when we frame our mindset towards stillness and growth, when we use both inspiration and effort to continuously propel us forward – we don’t set ourselves up for success just at the poker table, but in the grander game of life as well.

Enjoyed this article? Check out Part II for three more Emerson quotes that will elevate your poker game.

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