Lee Davy talks about the power of presence when playing poker including tales from his kitchen, bedroom, and a little help from Eckhart Tolle.
Listen up men.
When was the last time you made love to a woman?
I used to think the difference between sex and making love was one of noise levels.
When was the last time you held someone close and caressed them while looking deep into their eyes; keeping their attention; stealing their breath?
It doesn’t happen often does it?
I find connection difficult because I can’t keep still. I’m like a freebasing Speedy Gonzalez. I talk too fast, eat too fast, write too fast, walk too fast, and yes, fuck too fast.
I don’t have time to blow kisses into the wind hoping they will find the perfect cheek. I have no time at all. Rush Poker would be perfect for me if it weren’t for the motion sickness.
This morning I was juicing. I used a carrot, beet, several sticks of celery, some ginger, a cucumber, apple, and some mint, coriander, and parsley. I added some water and let my Blendtec loose.
I shook it.
I thought, “What a piece of shit.”
My wife grabbed my arm, switched it off, pulled out the vegetables, chopped them up, put them back into the blender and off they went.
My inability to be patient and remain present increased my levels of stress and created frustration. My mood altered dramatically. Each action that followed was full of irritability and dark emotion. I wasn’t functioning optimally.
Because of some vegetables?
It goes deeper than that. It’s who I am. And I need to change.
I am the same when I play poker, and it has always been the ruin of me. This year is the first year that I have not been at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for the start for five years.
In my first-ever event, some of the UK’s finest pros prepared me the night before. The critical message was to be patient. I was out before the first break. My opponent put me all-in on the river after turning two pairs. He had flopped a set.
I didn’t have to call.
There was always going to be another hand.
I was unable to stay present and rationalise the hand. Ego running wild, I called. I was out.
I went into the cash game area, and when I finally found a table, it was full of regs. I had a terrible seat. I could have moved. All I needed to do was to ask and be patient. I could have moved tables. I could have moved casinos. Instead, I sat there and lost all of my money.
In life, and in business, we often take the quickest route to the outcome we want. Take the juicer as a perfect example. Then there are other times when the path of least resistance leaves us rooted to the spot like in that cash game.
Bernadette Jiwa, branding and marketing expert, says ‘we need the patience to turn aspirations into outcomes.’
“Slow and steady is often the quickest way to get to where we want to go.” Says Jiwa.
She should be a poker coach.
The Power of Now
I am a very fortunate man. I get paid to watch the greatest poker players in the world compete, and I get paid to write about what I see. It’s pure brilliance to look at a players at the peak of their powers take their time to dissect a hand before folding with the nonchalance of a stoned origami champion of the world. The presence at that moment is incredible.
We aren’t blessed with the virtue of patience. It is learned. And it’s never too late to stop learning. Even for me.
“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” Writes Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now.
Presence, or mindfulness, is a skill I am learning through meditation. Slowly, but surely, my internal conversations are shifting from ‘how fast can I get from A to B’, too, ‘chill the fuck out mate’.
I am going to have my second child in September. My first is 15-years old. Where did the time go? Why can’t I remember anything about the good times? How long will it be before I am no longer his primary focus? I am desperate to get that time back so I can be patient, connect, and give him all of my attention.
How often do we think about this in poker?
‘I wish I could have played that hand differently.”
So do so today.
Take your time.
If it runs out and the clock beeps at you then so what.
“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.” Wrote Tolle.
If you ever find yourself playing on the same table as Andrew Lichtenberger, this quote will make sense. I’m not saying that Lichtenberger was a crazy maniac, always trying to get to his next spot like the speed of light. But undoubtedly his mindfulness and presence has positively impacted on not only his game but the energy that surrounds him.
Going back to the blender, I was a few minutes away from being Mr Angry. I could have easily have taken it out on my wife for no reason at all. At the poker table, I could lose my cool and play the next hand badly, and the next, and the next – not to mention the vibe that I set for the rest of the table.
Who wants to play with a miserable old git?
Nobody the last time I checked.
Tolle believes that your journey may take a million steps. However, your inner journey only has one.
Now before you take it, close your eyes, focus, and breathe.