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Fear of raising preflop #4; Right thought

December 11, 2007

Zen and the Art of Poker is a book that gets referred to often by those that have read it. As far as I can tell, it’s not written by a dedicated Zen disciple but by a dedicated poker player who found some connections between Zen perspectives and good poker attitudes and approaches.

One of the key things that one can take from the book is the concept of detachment, of removing the “I” or “me” from the game, almost allowing the game to play itself. Ego has no place in the game; there should be “I’ll get that guy back”.

I’m no expert in Zen or Buddhism in general, but one of the concepts that has always stuck me is the idea of “right thought”. I’ve always interpreted this as best or appropriate attitude or approach for a given situation. In a more general life situation this may mean having kindness, selflessness, and attention. In a general performance situation (golfing, archery, interviewing) it may include removing self doubt, nervousness and technical thinking and becoming “one” with the golf ball and club, the bow and arrow, the interviewer/ee. If we’re not an expert though, there is a degree to which right thought needs to include technical attention when we’re in the stages of developing the body-tuning before the body is ready for optimally “becoming one” with the challenge.

Earlier I wrote how inspiring I found some videos of better players playing the limits that I normally play, and how I could “call” most of the plays before the person in the video would do them. In this situation I’m fairly detached from the results. Although I’d like them to win/hit one of the cards they are drawing for I’m not deeply emotionally connected with the result since it doesn’t affect my personal bankroll one way or another. This relationship is very much how I would like to relate to my own play. One gimmick I could try is to pretend to be coaching someone else play rather than playing myself; perhaps that would give me some detachment while still being involved.

Some players multi-table specifically to try to help them to achieve this detachment. By multi-tabling they don’t always watch the table while other people make decisions and they don’t get so impatient waiting for playable hands/position because there’s action on the other tables.

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The full series

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Compendium of instructional posts:

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