Poker Lessons From Napoleon Hill: Lesson #2 Faith

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Poker Lessons From Napoleon Hill: Lesson #2 FaithLee Davy dissects the classic Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and considers how its lessons have lived through the life of a poker player.

Joseph McKeehen leads the November Nine. He is the favorite to win the $7.6m prize. He has also won eight live poker tournaments in the past 15-months. Joseph McKeehen is a man of faith.

I’m not talking about any religious hocus-pocus – although scientific studies suggest that people who have faith outlive those that don’t – what I am talking about his unnerving belief that he can win poker tournaments.

Napoleon Hill believed that faith – the visualization, and belief in attainment of desire – is the second step towards riches. I believe the vast majority of poker players have unencumbered levels of the stuff.

Interestingly, a lot of poker players will shy away from the word faith. The cynic in them emerges like the dreaded toothpick fish climbing up your urethra after a pleasant swim in the Amazon Basin. It burns. It’s nasty. I don’t want to talk about it.

Take Daniel Negreanu for example. Here is a man with faith. Only Negreanu manages the process slightly differently than some of his peers. He understands that faith is a state of mind. He knows that it needs to be induced, or created, by affirmation. Put simply, he needs to repeatedly jab home the message until it becomes the incontrovertible truth. When he does this, great things happen. When he does this some of you think he is part of a satanic cult that likes brainwashing and bestiality.

The ironic thing is most poker players do the same thing, only they don’t tweet about it. When I play poker I am always thinking about getting into the money. Guess what. I mostly scrape into the money. There is no real belief in greater things. There is no real desire for greater things. That message is sent to my sub-conscious, through repetition, and is sent back wrapped up in faith.

I spend my life talking to poker players and all of them share the same characteristic. They all believe that they are good at what they do. Even the players sliding into the abyss of a downswing of scaredy-cat proportions still believe the worm will eventually turn. This is faith.

Faith doesn’t happen by accident. You create it through your thoughts. It is a state of mind. If you keep telling yourself that you can do this then eventually you will. This is why heaters exist in poker. They have faith that they can do well and this faith increases with each winning performance, which in turn leads to more positive affirmation, which in turn leads to more faith.

The same is true for a downswing. You temporarily lose your way. You start doubting your ability, and you waiver. You tell your sub-conscious that you can’t do this anymore and it returns the favor by adjusting your level of faith. The mind chooses the most practical method available to demonstrate your faith. In terms of poker players it’s the game: misfortune, bad luck and bad beats. They are all physical manifestations of a lack of faith.

Napoleon Hill believes that perfection comes through practice. Don’t mock Daniel Negreanu for the approach he has chosen – mimic it. He has been refining his game and his emotional & physical well being for many years. It works. The proof is in his pudding. Stick a spoon in it. Eat it up. You can’t merely read instructions, sit back and wait for the magic to kick in. It doesn’t work like that. It’s hard work. It’s repetition.

Jim Kwik is the CEO of Kwik Learning & Foundation and Founder of SuperheroYou. He is a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance and accelerated learning. During a recent podcast he was asked to give his top tips on improving brain performance. One of his responses was the ability to build your positive thought muscle. He believes that automatic negative thoughts (ANTS) kill growth. You kill the ants by replacing this mode of thinking with positive thoughts. The brain then reacts by turning this way of thinking into faith.

Faith is the eternal elixir, which gives life, power, and action to the impulse of thought. – Napoleon Hill

Adolf Hitler is quoted as saying that if you make a lie big enough, make it simple, and keep on saying it, then people will eventually believe it. The repetition of thought, and the concentrated action of thought, is the key to faith.

When I speak to the top players in the game there is a noticeable change in the way they prepare for events. More and more players are incorporating meditation and yoga into their lives, and this is having a positive impact at the tables. This is concentrated thought at its best. Riches begin in the form of thought. Think wisely. Allow faith to remove your limitations. Then flourish. Every now and then a queen of hearts will hit the river and you will drop to the floor in pain. But we are poker players. We understand that short-term pain is necessary for long-term growth.

We have faith in that process.

We have faith in our game.

We have faith in ourselves.


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