How 3 years of poker can change your life

Today I´m really excited. I feel like I´m getting closer to where I want to be. Reading a lot in my apartment here in Tel Aviv and I feel that whenever you´re about to take the next step in your poker life, it’s also the time to look back.

1)  My reality of what is possible totally changed

Every person has their own reality in which they live. Some people´s realities are more congruent with each other, some are less.  One example where you can test another person´s reality is when talking about opportunities and chances in life. Some of my friends’ reality is “in order to do xy, you need this, and that, and here is why this can´t work out, and you better watch out that… “. My reality is “you can do it if you want”.

In most my old school friends’ realities there is no such thing as being your own boss in your twenties. For them this is for movies and for “people with rich parents”. Read the Rich Dad Poor Dad book. I´ve said in other posts that I´m very rational and grounded.  When I say that your reality and the way you think has influence on you, it is not some magic vibes puzzle. If you don´t believe in hitting big, you will never hit big. If you don´t believe in miracles, miracles will never happen. This is also the reason why religious people witness many miracles. They expect it. Whether or not it is fiction or not, this article is not about “absolute truth”. I want to emphasize how strongly one´s reality can shape a person.

2) Travelling shaped my personality

When I used to be in school there were not many chances to travel.  Have been many times to USA (grew up in Germany), and a few countries in Europe. But besides USA, I´ve never been in another country longer than 2 weeks. Ok, most people under 18 haven´t. But  always had the urge to move around the world and “see everything”. Gave myself a rule to try to stay at least one month in most places. Sometimes it was shorter, but usually I stayed around 3 months in one country. Every time I saw a new country and got to know different kinds of people, some of my views had to be re-evaluated. People who travel and have travelled talk a different language. It’s weird, almost like you have an own code of conduct. The way you talk and view life is different. One main impact it has on people is making them more open minded and actually less politically correct!

You´ll see me making racist jokes all over. Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs and especially whimpy French “men”! Ok, to be honest, I´ve always been like that. But deep down I love them and as my Russian great grandma would say: “Everybody is an idiot in their own way”.

3) Poker taught me things about myself

Those of us who have played for a decent amount of time and have experienced the emotional battles can understand best what I´m going to share. I´ve always been an extremely rational person. But at bad times I was taught how vulnerable I am. I was taught about my ego, and learned how to deal with my emotions. I HAD to learn it, because the other option was joining the 99% of people who lose money at this game. There are very few spots where you get the gun pulled into your mouth over and over.

There is the big psychological component in poker. Beginners and spectators will not even realize the magnitude. When I used to start playing and reading stuff like “you, yourself are your biggest opponent”, I was just laughing and thinking those were people who had some deep issues.

Being a great player is about knowing yourself. It’s knowing about your strengths and weaknesses and actually dealing with them. I like to punch you if you just gave me the “it’s obvious smile”. It is, and then it isn´t. I know too many great players who are the living nightmare for most opponents on the table. But they´re broke. Flat broke.

One reason is because they fail to internalize and study their flaws that are presented to them in black & white.
Poker is such a great teacher of life. If you accept the lessons, poker is one of the best teachers.

4) Views on money

The biggest purchase in my life

The irony of life. I grew up as a big nit. Conservative with money. I never bought candy and up to this day I do not eat candy (I only like good chocolate and enjoy eating big “real” meals). I got 50 cents per week since I was in first grade.  Bought myself a watch for 140 after a long time of saving (you do the math). I´ve dreamed about this watch for over a year. It had a universal remote control built in. Ultra high tech at that time. I told nobody, only my best friend about it. Believe me, I had a million years of fun with this watch. Made people believe in ghosts, go nuts and believe I´m some sort of magic entity.

One time at the German chess championships my buddy and myself became celebrities in a 5 star hotel, because they thought we were able to hack into the system and manipulate everything. Changing channels to some love tele-novelas in a sports bar that was filled with men. Creating curse concerts. And of course nobody would suppose it’s that 10ish year old innocent guy, “adjusting the time” on his watch.  Do the math, I saved up like 80 on my own. The rest was a gift from grandparents.

When we watched educational movies in school that were boring, I changed the channel. One time the video recorder “went crazy” (quote from the technician). They bought new equipment… *cough*. Haven´t told them up to this day ;). Could go on forever and ever. If you think I got tired of it… no. I think it a took couple years before I passed on opportunities.

One amazing function was that the clock could also save new infrared signals. So many remote controls work with infrared. My grandma´s garage… ok, you have to know, I can be pretty silly… I hope she can sleep at night. Yeah, what were we talking about?! This money thing.

Talking about money

The irony of all is that the less money you have, the more important it seems to be. Today I don´t care as much. Not because the pockets are full. I often get accused that “you can only talk like this because you got some dough. Some of us have to earn it the hard way”. That’s flat out WRONG. It is rather BECAUSE people have the scared mindset, it makes them captivated by money. Since they´re captivated by it, they think it’s evil. It’s this vicious circle filled with self-fulfilling prophecies.

Talking about money is like talking about sex in public for most people. And in a way I don´t like to talk about money too much (besides in my blog lol), because it doesn´t interest me too much.

In my opinion we often fail to realize that money is just money. Money isn´t evil. What we make and how we use it determines what it will become. I love earning money, because it enables me to do what I love. I also love playing with it. Today I love spending. Money isn´t sacred. After all, it’s just paper.

The rich are usually the most generous

Also something that I´ve realized. Yes it’s true, many rich people can afford to be generous. Still I feel the poker attitude is a different one. In order to become rich, you usually have to give first, not only in regards to money, as a general principle. If you want many great friends, BE a great friend first.
If you want to make money, what’s the first step? You have to OFFER FIRST something BEFORE receiving. People who are poor TAKE FIRST and GIVE LATER. This is the most simple strategy yet only few apply. And this is exactly what I´m doing here as well.

So in my eyes, it is no accident that rich people on average are more generous. Because being generous is the reason WHY they became rich in the first place.

5) Es ist alles nur ein Spiel (German for: It is all only a game)

In highschool one of my favorite lines was “It’s all only a game”, and we´re here to enjoy it. Part of the game can be to be serious. And actually I´m pretty good at this part. But over time many things that you thought were so important and serious turn out to be a big hoax. A joke. A game. Read my Mindset post on Stoicism.

Jesus once said that we should look at the flowers. They don´t worry what they wear, they don´t worry about anything, but they´re still taken care of. Whether it’s your job, spouse, kids, don´t take things too seriously. Nothing is as bad as it seems. Even losing arms and legs.

Being too serious and worried is just another form of arrogance and egoism. Yes, I mean exactly this. If you´re too serious about protecting somebody from whatever it is you´re basically stating;

- you think you have more power than you really have (arrogance)
- you´re helping them not for their own good, but because of your own possessiveness
That’s why it’s so freaking laughable why the same ultra Christians who “lay the world in god’s hand and trust him with their lives” are the most over protective people on the planet. Makes no sense.

And whenever you state something like I do, you can set your timer, expecting to hear in less than a minute about the awesome analogy with the 3 year old baby that you have to protect and watch out for. One of those great ways to pretend the exception is the rule ;)

In writing this article I´ve been very much influenced by my visit to Jerusalem, a big center for the three monotheistic religions. It’s not a secret that their relationship among them isn´t exactly guided by love and respect. Will share my experience probably in some other post, but for now I simply want to state that people take themselves and their crap waaaaaay too importantly. The orthodox Jews more so than anybody else. Or the Israeli security at the airport. They were extremely nice and helpful to me, but what would happen if all the people down there would stop to take themselves so overly seriously?!

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4 Responses to How 3 years of poker can change your life

  1. Luisma says:

    Is good to see you writing again, I really enjoy your articles. Greetings from Venezuela. Luisma

  2. Nate says:

    Muchas gracias Luis,

    can´t deny that i love to hear that. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Florida!

    - Nate

  3. Pingback: My first Post – time to say goodbye! | IncreaseYourPokerIQ

  4. Pingback: Poker Travelling | IncreaseYourPokerIQ

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