Lee Davy writes about the importance of scheduling the time to think, so poker players can get back to understanding the bigger picture, both on the felt in in every day lives.
I didn’t think for 35-years.
I wandered the earth like a robot. My parents were the programmers. It was an old circuit board. I left school at 16, so I could earn enough money to reach a consistent state of drunkenness. I took the first paying job that came my way to support that habit. A man known as a ‘boss’ took over the programming from my parents.
“Earn more revenue”.
Occasionally, there would be a purring at the base of my skull. The lights would flicker. But it was very temporary. I was soon enveloped in darkness, wandering around the planet, stepping in shit.
One day, ‘the boss’ walked into my office. I was staring at a pothole in the car park wondering who would fall into it and then put a claim against me for negligence when he asked me what I was doing?
I didn’t have time to think so I said, “I am thinking.”
His response was both emphatic and aggressive.
“I don’t pay you to think.”
The biggest cost in a railroad company is the locomotive fleet. It’s, therefore, important to ensure they are idle as little as possible. You create a train plan to ensure the wheels keep on turning. When they stop that space in the train plan is known as ‘white space.’
When I ‘woke up’ and started thinking I saw white space everywhere. Rather than fill it with the automation that once blinded me, it became a project of mine to fill it with activities that led me towards my goals.
Yesterday, I went for a walk with my wife. We stopped at a pub so she could use the toilet. I took out my phone and started to read a blog post about the importance of thinking. That’s an example of filling the white space.
There is a vast amount of white space in poker – both on the table and off it. During gameplay, you will be folding more often than you will be playing. The downtime between hands is white space. How you choose to fill that white space is critical.
I believe the most valuable way to use this white space is to fill it with thinking. Look around you, and what do you see? How are your opponents behaving and how can you incorporate that learning into your game? What do the cards tell you at showdown? Who is bluffing? Where are the marks?
I give this advice to amateur poker players. For the professional poker player, I encourage that you fill this white space with equal servings of attention to detail on the table and filling your mind with knowledgeable books, podcasts, or other forms of media that will advance your poker game or life.
The Bigger Picture
It’s easy to get busy in the minutiae of the poker game. So use your time wisely. Think about the bigger picture. If you are playing in a tournament, then remind yourself of the importance of survival. Remember that the goal is to play each hand optimally. It’s not about making money. Don’t let the number of pots won or the amount of cash won interfere with the bigger picture.
It’s the same in life.
When you aren’t used to thinking, you fail to develop the ability to pick out the vital from the trivial. I would even go as far as to say you end up being attracted to the superficial things in life because it’s human to want to wander down the path of least resistance. It illuminated, and people put their shit in bags and dump it into the trash.
Once again, think bigger. Why are you even playing poker? What does it mean to you? If you did win a lot of money what would you do with it? Who are you hanging around with and how are they affecting your growth? Are you happy? What is happiness? Do you care that the world is going to rat shit? What can you do about it?
Some of the world’s greatest thought leaders and entrepreneurs schedule time for thinking. For this to happen, you need to have the plan to begin with, and I encourage everyone to have one if they want to be successful.
Many people believe a schedule is a set of chains that holds you in place and doesn’t allow you to roam freely. I see this in the poker world a lot especially because of the flexibility the ‘job’ creates.
However, this is very short term thinking, and in poker, we all know about the importance of thinking long term. Working towards a schedule will allow you to get the vital things done, and by default, this creates more freedom down the road.
Imagine a poker player who craves financial freedom and sees poker as a way of achieving this goal. By scheduling time to play, time to learn, to seek out a great coach, to develop and hone your talents, you are more likely to achieve your goal and have 100% financial freedom.
Do you want to know how to think?
Listen to podcasts.
Don’t restrict the flow. Keep an open mind. In the cracking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, the author talks about the differences between a ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindset.
Poker players with a fixed mindset stunt their growth prospects because they think very linear about problems. Everything is black or white. Contrarily, poker players with a ‘growth’ mindset believe anything is possible. There isn’t a move they can’t understand or a theory they cannot master and teach others.
If you develop a ‘growth’ mindset, then your mind will be like a sponge. Your mind will be a symphony of thoughts. Your only problem will be deciding, of those thoughts, which ones are the priorities?
Let Gandhi be Your Guide
It’s tough to think straight when your mind is anchored deep into the riveted steel of materialism. I couldn’t think straight; engulfed in stuff.
House, a car, a shed full of tools, a wardrobe full of clothes.
It was all noise.
It all added to the chaos.
There was no peace.
In the classic book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he uses Mohandas K. Gandhi as the shining example when it comes to the elimination of stuff.
He refused to read newspapers because he believed all the woes and worries of the world filled his mind with too much non-essential stuff. He spent one day a week in complete silence. He tried to live on a diet of as few ingredients as possible. When he died, he had fewer than ten items.
Gandhi’s clutter free life, both materially and spiritually, allowed him to pour forth all of his time and effort into the independence of the people of India. He was able to eliminate the trivial to focus on the vital. He was able to see the bigger picture clearly because he had made a clear path by brushing away all of the non-essential crap.
And it’s this approach that I am suggesting you should undertake if you want to be a great poker player, and, most importantly, start thinking about the bigger picture, and taking concrete steps towards ensuring every action you take brings you closer to your goals.