Essential Poker and Life Lessons in 10 Easy Quotes

1 year ago
Essential Poker and Life Lessons in 10 Easy Quotes
12 Sep

The game of poker is often compared to the ‘game of life’ – lessons we can use in everyday life learned at every turn – and for that reason it has spawned hundreds of inspirational quotes. Here are our top 10.

1. “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” - Stu Ungar

This might be one of the most contentious on the list actually, as any competitive game or sport requires a killer edge to reach the top.

The great thing about poker, of course, is that it can be played not only for money and glory, but also for fun, with family, friends, or even complete strangers for play money.

In fact, everyone loses in poker sometime, and getting accustomed to the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ is a necessary requisite to reach the top.

2. "Poker is a hard way to make an easy living." - Doyle Brunson

Any player who has attempted to turn pro knows how true this saying is, and coming from the Grandaddy of the game you have to respect the source.

Most well-known players have been through the riches to rags reversals that often make or break a career. You learn and with a little luck flourish, or you succumb to the pitfalls.

Talent, study, hard work, supportive environment, good health and some rungood are just a few of the elements required…and if all goes well it looks and feels like an easy living!

3. “Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.” - Benny Binion

This would go well with ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you!’

Well, nobody wants to live a life in fear of the worst happening, but with money on the line you also need to look after yourself – and that means taking everything with a pinch of salt.

Every month another ‘scandal’ or warning of some sort or another makes the headlines, so the least you can do to protect yourself is to know what poker cheats and scams are out there.

4. “Poker is a lot like sex. Everyone thinks they are the best, but most don’t have a clue what they are doing.” - Dutch Boyd

And, Boyd might have clarified, nobody admits to the latter! The current status of carnal ability is not up for discussion here, but the general standard of poker has clearly risen in the past decade.

Nowadays, if you don’t have a coach, practice with solvers every day and know your 5-bet cut-off shove ranges at various BB amounts off by heart you are somehow doing it wrong.

Boyd’s point, of course, is poker strategy is a deep, deep well and there is always something more to learn, or someone better out there!

5. “Just play every hand, you can’t miss them all.” - Sammy Farha

Farha’s humorous turn of phrase actually hides a good learning process if you are just starting out – learning what hands do well in which positions, against different opponents at, say, different stages of a poker tournament.

A famous chess master, Eduard Gufeld, once stated something similar: ‘If I had lost to a different tactic on each of the 64 squares I would be a much stronger player by now!”

Naturally, if you’re going to follow this advice, do so with play money before you try it for real!

6. “Poker is 100% skill and 50% luck.” - Phil Hellmuth

Phil 'Poker Brat' Hellmuth is responsible for some of the best sayings in the game, most of them revolving around why he doesn’t win everything!

“If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time,” is one of his most famous, but the one we’ve used is also a classic as it combines that poker player feeling of doing everything right and still losing.

We all know and understand variance, but it still hurts when we lose a 95%er five times in a row!

7. “Everyone gets lucky once in a while, but no one is consistently lucky.” - Doyle Brunson

Texas Dolly has the answer to Hellmuth’s ‘Did you see what he called me with, honey?’ appeals to bad luck.

Sometimes you only need to get lucky ‘once’ to change your life, but if you rely on it too often we know what happens. However, the player who hands themselves over to pure luck is of course the person everyone should want to be facing at a poker table!

And don’t forget R. E. Shay’s wise words: “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.”

8. “In order to be a successful gambler you have to have a complete disregard for money.” - Doyle Brunson

Another Brunson quote from his sixty-plus years at the table, and considering he once turned down an offer of over $200million for his online cardroom, he likely knows a thing or two.

Playing with ‘scared money’ is never likely to bring out the best in a poker player, so if you can’t afford to lose what you have in front of you, don’t sit down in the first place!

9. “You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once.” - Amarillo Slim Preston

Coming from someone who spent a chunk of their life as a road gambler, going from town to town in search of a juicy game, this quote is the gold standard for how to take money from a weaker opponent.

Nowadays bumhunting is considered a big no-no in the poker ecology arguments, but for players like Amarillo Slim it was how a living was made.

Always leave the ‘mark’ who you could win from regularly with his dignity and the feeling he’d been in a fair game.

10. “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” — Matt Damon in Rounders

Let’s finish off with a movie character’s words of poker wisdom, and the one we don’t want players from the quote above to cotton to!

Of course, almost every player has been the sucker at some point, losing to stronger players without realising how or why - though hopefully it sparked us to improve rather than simply complain and remain the mark!

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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