Poker Success

John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

John Wooden"Success is not a destination, it's a journey." -- John Wooden

ESPN rates John Wooden as the greatest sports coach of all time. I can't find any reason to disagree. Vince Lombardi will have to settle for second.

Wooden always considered himself more of a teacher than a coach, and this assessment is backed up by a chorus of his former players. Wooden didn't just approach basketball tactically. He approached the game as an extension of living a successful life.

While basketball is a team sport and poker is an individual game, Wooden's philosophy fits poker like a glove. In fact, while poker is an individual game, all aspects of our lives intertwine to influence the creation of successful poker players... and failed players too.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Most of being a poker player takes place away from the table. Preparation, study, attitude, rest, management of finances and game selection primarily take place before we play.

"Constantly be aware and observing. Always seek to improve yourself..."

Just focusing on what we are good at leads to being one-dimensional and vulnerable to our opponents adapting. Becoming ever more multi-dimensional, and multi-threatening, keeps us ahead of our opponent's ability to adapt, and allows us more avenues to attack our opponent's various weaknesses.

"Control of your organization begins with control of yourself. Be disciplined."

No one else can give you the discipline to be at your best, except yourself.

"Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required every day."

Self-control every other day is no control at all. It's hard to build something of value, but decades of work can be destroyed in seconds.

"Adversity is your asset."

Adversity builds both character and ability, but in a poker context, "trouble" hands are usually challenging for everyone in the hand. A well-prepared and disciplined player will handle these trouble situations far better than a player who fears and desires to avoid adversity.

"Don't be thrown off by events whether good or bad."

Don't tilt, ever, and don't do any victory dances before the game or tournament is actually over.

"The strongest steel is well-founded self-belief. It is earned, not given."

Confidence in your demonstrated, genuine ability is not delusional ego. Telling others that you are a great player is usually a sign that you are not.

"Make a decision. Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all."

Seize the day. Choose your course of action, then pursue it with belief and passion.

"Stay the course. When thwarted try again, harder, smarter. Persevere relentlessly."

Nobody wins every hand. Nobody wins every tournament they enter. Poker requires losing to be a winner.

"Ability may get you to the top, but character keeps you there."

Goofballs with some talent can have temporary triumphs, but an hour or a day later, they wake up, and they are still goofballs, and the consequences of their actions will catch up with them.

"Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way."

The pursuit of shortcuts to success usually leads to limited ability and short careers.

"Have the utmost concern for what's right, not who's right."

Look to do the financially best action. Don't be pigheaded, including about the hands you play.

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

Circumstances change. Life changes. The board changes when a flush card comes. Poker players must read situations, judge the best course to take, then adapt if they need to.

And a few more:
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
"Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you."
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

Poker Success