Once Upon a Time: When I Understood That Life is Like Poker

Last time in Once Upon A Time Isabelle reflected on the changes that the poker game had suffered during recent years. Now, in this edition, she draws the parallels that bring the poker game and the game of life together.

Today in class I am offering you a subject for an essay: “What is life?”. You have three hours to prepare your content and it’s prohibited to copy from your neighbor, physical distancing required.

Okay, I’ll be nice and spare you some deep introspective thinking on this subject: I’ll give you the answer. Life is like poker! No need to summon Bergson, Kierkegaard, or even Kant to pass the test successfully.

If we had to choose one, we would take Descartes, but we can even do without him to support our argument. 

Like in poker, in life you don’t choose which cards you’re given. Indeed, when we swipe our cards, we are faced with chances.

A promising pair of aces or a disappointing 7 and 2, we have no choice but to accept it. Same thing in life. We may be born in a wealthy and benevolent social environment, like a pair of aces or in a hostile environment that stinks, like 7 and 2.

Still, in the same way, that I have already seen a 7 and 2 cracking a pair of aces, it is possible to succeed no matter where you start from. Where you are born and what assets you have as a child are only one parameter of the equation. Their value matters as much as what you can do with them. 

The Importance Of Taking Risks

Like in poker, in life… you have to take risks. If you sit down at a poker table with the strategy of only playing once you have “monsters” in hand, chances are that you are more readable than a classic Arial font.

Taking risks doesn’t mean opening with 80% of your hands, it doesn’t mean to throw in a huge bunch of chips at the pot to get your opponent to fold, nor paying the opponent’s stack on the river because you were unable to let go of your top pair.

No, taking risks is less about being in aggro mode than being able to seize opportunities when they arise, even if they take us out of our comfort zone. 

Starting your own business in real life with all the “risks” that it includes, or 3-bet squeezing when you’re not used to doing it: it’s the same thing. 

Isabelle CoinPoker

Discipline and Consistency

Like in poker, in life … it takes discipline and consistency. It is clear that the professional players of the circuit who last and who accumulate performances are far from degenerates who run on gin-tonic as soon as they wake up at 5:00 in the morning.

This goes against the cliché stereotype that the general public often has of poker players: inveterate gamblers who drink and smoke while laughing very loudly.

When I started my career, the few players who dared to c-bet had a huge edge over their opponents. This is no longer the case today.

In 2021, to have an edge, you have to work your ranges, review your hands, work on your mind (no coincidence that many pros have coaches), and be in physical shape to get through 14 series days with 12-hour sessions without having a stroke. 

Accept When You Get Beaten And Try Again

Like in poker, in life you have to be lucky and to accept bad beats. Whether at tables or in life, there is a cold and relentless constant: you never control your destiny at 100%. Ask any player: in order to win a tournament, you need luck, and you need to win your flips.

We can go all-in just with AA and KK, if we take a bad beat, we bust out. You need a certain dose of luck and knowing how to accept the kicks of fate, as well as doing so with philosophy.

The same thing in life: you are never 100% safe from an accident. You have to know how to cash in, get up and become resilient, otherwise, you will not end the game.

“Desert crossings” exist in Hold’em as well as in our daily lives. Same thing with good times. Deal with that! 

Life Is a Game to Share

Like in poker, in life… you need friends. It’s a solitary game, but it’s a game to be shared. Play a home game, go to an associative club, talk with his friends on recent games, go to the strip in Vegas to play a WSOP tournament (2021, here we come!), swap shares, do sessions online with friends on the webcam.

Isabelle and friends

All of this is why poker is more than a solitaire card game. It’s about the human bond, it’s an experience that is shared, it’s the human condition: we are seated at the same table, with our fellow human beings and we do not know what tomorrow, or the next hand will look like. Poker is so much life. 

The bells rings, we collect the copies. I play… therefore I am… all-in! 

Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today.  

Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier 

WPT Winner & OFC “Progressive” World Champion 

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