A book review - Zen and the Art of Poker
Taking the money out of the equation - a review of Larry W. Phillips Zen and the Art of Poker - Timeless secrets to transform your game.
I have never properly considered this before, but actually not doing things for the financial incentive can be far more enriching than doing things just for the money. Bear with me. I'm not saying I don't want to make a lot of money, it's just that shouldn't be the ultimate end goal - taking each hand, card by card and making great moves and decisions should be the goal each and every time - then the results will follow.
If you play poker just for the money you are never going to win because you won't be fully focused on your game play and will get easily frustrated. Perhaps if you are a weak/tight player (a player always concerned with losing money and are folding too much on the turn and river) you could take some solace from the suggestion in this short article. This is just an idea of course. The rest is up to you. Being too money driven all the time can be a positive or negative attribute depending on how you approach it.
In Zen and the Art of Poker the writer Larry W. Phillips reveals a whole new world of strategy and extreme concentration 'many of the same principles that underpin the one thousand year old philosophy of zen spirituality' and really turns an eye to the concept that the results in your mind shouldn't matter; so allow the results to come naturally. Have you ever considered that when you force things (and I've seen this happen to opponents too) on the poker table that the results can go wrong? Wouldn't it be far better to be much more patient and wait for better situations where you know you are in with the best of it.
Zen and the Art of Poker can definitely be the guide for you to do this - this is an excellent poker book and I disagree with one of the online reviews which suggest 'it is just yet another different way to view poker' or 'I don't remember much, but one of the words of wisdom was to be patient when playing a hand. Well no wonder!' I think both of these reviewers missed the point altogether and should take another look - I think there is much truth and value in the messages conveyed in the book.
In Zen and the Art of Poker, the writer's overall objectives are to teach readers to:
- make peace with folding
- Use inaction as a weapon
- Make patience a single pillar of their strategy
If you have the money or prize at the forefront of your thinking, you will never quite be free to do or play your best game because there is always that agenda at the back of your mind. Linking to my previous article where I talked about the idea presented by David Sklansky in exploiting opponents for their mistakes, by using inaction as a weapon in particular, this strategy can indeed make it very difficult for opponents to take money off you! You become incredibly difficult to exploit, unless you stray from the strategy path however, which can be tempting from lack of practise, so this approach will take much focus and discipline particularly in the early stages.
Just to give you an example of how this approach can also be aplied to different aspects of your life: One of the most rewarding times for me have been either volunteer work at music festivals to get a free weekend ticket or coaching football in a foreign country. Both situations have required my upmost attention and effort even though there were no financial rewards at the end, but you know what, these were the times when I met the most interesting people. As well as providing enriching experiences, free perks and also becoming a valued member in the team, if you play your cards right (couldn't resist) they also bring the gold attribute of confidence. No thing in life was achieved (or self-confidence gained) by being closed off from people and staying in your comfort zone.
The main point I am trying to make here is try to do things differently if one thing isn't working for you; be there because you want to be there. In a poker context, thinking just about the money can making you hesitant, impatient and over-cautious in your play. Trust me, I have also been that player - sometimes I still am. If I wasn't that bothered about doing a good job in the volunteer work or 'too critical or suspicious of unpaid work' I'd never be invited back, same goes for lack of effort in developing a proper poker strategy, lack of funds wouldn't allow me to come back! Keep an open mind.
So this strategy presented by Larry W.Phillips takes hard work and discipline and by taking your ego out of the equation, moving away from the thinking about the end rewards and doing something uncomfortable you wouldn't usually do - it means you have to stay fully focused on the moment. By adopting the new approach of 'inaction as a weapon' I can recall when I tried this method out, it actually led lead to a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Folding became fun! I think I'll try it again.
Take your ego out of the equation and to do so read this book. Become a big winner. I'm going to enjoy reading it again.
Let me end with a quote from the book which says: 'Everything is true as it is: Why dislike it? Why like it?'
Review by Toby Ireland - good luck at the tables all!