By: Danielle Striker, Chief Guru and CEO of Poker Samadhi
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – St. Augustine
St. Augustine (354—430 C.E.) was a fourth century philosopher famous for being an inimitable theologian and for his contributions to Western philosophy.
The art and practice of being patient is one of the single biggest factors to winning in poker, and in life. When you learn to be patient you gain insight, or wisdom, about your opponents and yourself. Patience reveals things that in time, you can use to become successful. Things you simply can’t learn by being in a rush.
Tournament poker, as an example, is a game of survival. It’s those who are patient who survive and make it to the final table, and who get a chance to win. Ultimately isn’t that what you’re trying to do? Win at poker and win at life?
Phil Hellmuth, undisputedly the greatest tournament poker player of all time, with 16 WSOP bracelets says, “I am the best player, because I am the most patient.” Phil has learned to use patience as an effective weapon against his opponents. He waits them out, allowing the other players to make mistakes, and then swoops in with the best hand and situation to amass a big stack of chips.
I have watched Phil do this over and over and over again, year after year. Obviously, his approach to being patient has revealed wisdom that has made him an unparalleled winner.
I was recently playing in my home game where I was down to two chips and a chair. I folded and folded and folded. I was “card dead” for hours in this tournament. I could hear Phil Hellmuth in my head. “Wait for it, wait for the best hand, wait for the best situation, be patient!”
Since it was a tournament, where each player that gets eliminated would bring me one spot closer to the money, I waited. I took a long deep breath and closed my eyes, and looked inward. Just stopping for those few minutes I was able to calm myself down and practice self-control. And I noticed I was anxious. So, I made a conscious effort to let go of my anxiety and wait for the absolute best spot to play my next hand.
Then it happened. I got a run of good cards and literally doubled-up. Then I doubled up again, and again. All because I was patient.
And then the miracle happened. We were down to four players and two players got impatient. The first player made a huge mistake and got knocked out. He tried to bully his opponent who actually had a very strong hand. Poof! Like that we were down to three players.
Then the next player got impatient, and went all in, and lost to a pair of Kings with his Ace, King hand. Before I knew it, I was heads up at the final table. I came in second, but I still won money that I would not have had I not been patient and mindful. What I learned is other players will get impatient and they will make mistakes which can help me move up.
You simply can’t win if you’re in a hurry.
Warren Buffet, the most successful investor ever, stresses patience: "People who want to get rich quickly, will not get rich at all. There is nothing wrong with getting rich slowly.”
Tournament poker is a marathon not a sprint where your stack goes up and down, over time. If you’re patient, you can amass a stack big enough to reach the final table.
It takes a very long time to get good at poker. It takes a long time to get good at anything. You simply can’t rush your way to success.
Ask yourself what you can learn from being patient. Where do you need to be patient instead of rushing and having a “now, now, now mentality”?
I promise that if you simply slow down, take a deep breath and relax, insights will be revealed to you.
Patience and wisdom go hand-in-hand (no pun intended).
Be patient. Play your best life.