Lee Davy dissects An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth by the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and finds 5 tips that can improve your poker game.
Chris Hadfield is not only the author of An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth, and the first Canadian to ever walk in space; he even out Bowied David by singing Space Oddity from the International Space Station (ISS) and turning it into a video that has been seen by millions of people around the world.
He is a great man. He wrote a great book. I highly recommend it. Here are 5 lessons from Hadfield that I think will improve your poker game.
1# Create a Better You
From the moment Hadfield saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon he found his purpose in life.
“At that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew, with absolute clarity – I wanted to be an astronaut.” – Chris Hadfield.
He was 9-years old.
There was only one problem. Canadians didn’t do space. There wasn’t a space program in Canada. Yet despite this significant hurdle, Hadfield decided to do everything that he believed an astronaut would do if he were 9-years old.
The golden piece of advice that falls out of this epic realization? He learned that: ‘what he did each day would determine the kind of person he would become.’
I wise man once told me that if you’re a dickhead, and you suddenly win a lot of money, then you are a dickhead with a lot of money.
What do you do each day?
How does that help define you?
There is overwhelming evidence suggesting multi-tasking is not a smart thing to do. I’m not suggesting playing 24-tables of online poker, whilst flicking the bean and feeding your cat. I’m suggesting that you need to learn all derivatives of poker.
“On the Soyuz, there’s simply not room to fly someone whose main contribution is expertise in a single area.” – Chris Hadfield.
I believe there is value in learning the other derivatives of poker. It won’t be long before artificial intelligence will beat humans at No-Limit Hold’em. It might take a minute to learn, it might even take a lifetime to master, but you won’t get that far. Boredom will beat you, as will stagnation and false confidence.
Learn the other games.
Chris Hadfield has a simple philosophy. He figures out what could kill him in the next and then creates a plan to help reduce the possibility that it may happen.
There are many lessons contained within this book, but risk assessment and preparation are like litterbugs throughout these pages. Hadfield once learned to play the Elton John classic Rocketman, on his guitar, because he believed there was a possibility that the pair would meet at a concert, and upon learning he was a guitar-playing astronaut, may ask him to accompany him on stage. He did meet Elton John. He wasn’t asked to play. He was prepared.
“A lot of people talk about expecting the best, but preparing for the worst, but I think that’s a seductively misleading concept. There is never just one ‘worst.’ Almost always there’s a whole spectrum of bad possibilities. The only thing that would really qualify as the ‘worst’ would be not having a plan for how to cope.” – Chris Hadfield
How are you going to play if you end up on a feature table and people on the livestream can see your hole cards? How are you going to play a 10bb stack on the bubble? How are you going to play a 200bb stack at the final table? How are you going to cope if your downswing lasts for 12-months? What are you going to do if the robots figure out how to play better than you? How are you going to stop her from leaving you, if you continue to put the game first?
When I ask professional poker players to describe what it means to ‘work hard on their game’ I can always tell the wheat from the chaff. The presence of luck, in poker, can be misleading to people choosing to wear rose tinted spectacles.
Poker is no different than anything else in life. In order to improve you need to continually gain more skill, knowledge and understanding. It’s more than the Malcolm Gladwell 10k hour rule. I am not talking about purely playing. I am talking about learning every aspect of the game; deepening that knowledge.
“People tend to think astronauts have the courage of a super hero – or maybe the emotional range of a robot. But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge.” – Chris Hadfield.
It’s not better to be lucky, than good.
Good = knowledge.
5# A Greater Responsibility
I often tell people who are sad to find someone else who is sad and cheer them up. I often tell people who come to me with their problems, to help me figure out how to fix mine.
We are helpers. A wonderful mix of chemicals parties hard in our brains when we offer a hand and someone takes it. Philipp Gruissem came extremely close to quitting poker. His scales were off balance. His experience had become too extrinsic. He was running out of the raw materials necessary to create happiness.
Gruissem eventually learned to find intrinsic value in what he did, by using those extrinsic reward to help people less fortunate than himself. Poker became a vehicle for changing the world. How powerful is that?
“Understanding my place in the grand scheme of the universe has helped me keep my own successes in perspective. I have a personal obligation to be a good steward of this planet and to educate others. This turns out to be a little known after effect of space flight: I now pick gum wrappers up off the street.” – Chris Hadfield.
Get picking. Become a steward like Hadfield. Something tells me that by putting your faith in the need to help others, you’ll discover a new impetus to be the best poker player you can be.