I am asked quite often, in a nice way, something like, “I really like your columns Vince, but why don’t you ever talk about poker strategy?” I usually explain that since there are columnists who write strategy, plus so many good books available nowadays, I just basically don’t think I have that much to add. Occasionally, however, I have tried to pass on some piece of advice, usually in a general way, with hopes of helping some of the newer players.
Today the advice that I want to pass on is to never play poker when you are angry. Now that sounds like a simple statement, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, we know when we’re really angry. Maybe we got in an argument with our spouse or maybe a friend. He or she said some mean things. We said some mean things. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and now here we are, mad. This, as I said, is a case where there is no doubt in our mind that we are mad.
Fortunately most of us have our different ways of getting through this, whatever the method. Usually within a short period of time, our anger is gone and things get back to normal. I personally learned the “don’t play poker when you’re angry” lesson during my first marriage. I learned not to go play poker after having heated words with my wife. I invariably got even for any perceived wrong in the old fashioned way, by losing all our money.
As the years passed and I found myself in other relationships, I became much more cognizant of my moods as they applied to my poker playing. I found it easy to play when I was happy and in a good mood. I could even play well when I was saddened by something. When things were normal, like a “straight line” type of mood, which I experience most of the time, my playing was also good. When occasionally I have been angry, it’s a no brainer: I know enough not to play. If you are …