Downright Good Thought: There are only 2 types of poker players in the world … rich and poor.

Recently I was a participant in a game of Texas Hold’em. That’s a card game for anyone who doesn’t know. It’s also the version of poker where you only get 2 cards per hand and has been made popular on ESPN’s “World Series of Poker”. So chances are, you’ve probably heard of the game at some point (even if you’ve never played).

And I’ve played several times in my life. Much of my early 20s consisted of playing poker, especially Texas Hold’em. Online poker, poker with friends, poker with family…I enjoyed a good gamut of crowds. The majority of times I played were for recreation only with little money to be lost or had, but yes, there was still money on the table.

And if it weren’t for those games of Texas Hold’em, I’d probably be a richer man.

One of my friends tried to tell me that there are two types of players: those who play it straight and those who are chasers. The players that play it straight tend to play the odds. They’re calculating their chances of hitting a card at the end of a hand, and if they don’t foresee at least a 90% probability of beating the odds, then they bow out, or ‘fold’, if you prefer the technical term.

On the flipside, there are the more reckless players. These guys “chase” after that slim chance that the third ace in the deck will hit and thereby grant them that crucial full house. And if they think they can win, they’re never too bashful about throwing all their money into the pot over the opportunity that some other poor sap will take them up on the challenge. It’s an irresponsible way to play if you think about it, but the reward for victory often outweighs the potential for loss in that player’s mind.

As you might have guessed, I am far more like the latter. I chase. I guess. I bluff. I go “all in” when I have nothing in my hand as I sit and pray for someone else to fold so I can steal the pot. It’s a great strategy if it’s your first time playing with a new group, but if you continuously play with the same people, someone will get wise to your act. They’ll call you out, force you to adjust your game, and when you’re at your weakest, they’ll pounce and make you wish you hadn’t bought back in to play.

Yeah, I’d certainly be a richer person if I didn’t play poker. That much is true. I like the social aspect of the game, but could definitely do without the whole losing money thing. I’ve won my fair share in the past, but whether or not I’m breaking even is up to debate. Which brings me to why I feel my friend is incorrect in his assumption. There really aren’t strategists and chasers in poker; there are simply rich and poor. The winners and the losers. You can strike it rich by being conservative if you know what you’re doing, but you can also get to the top by putting everything you have on the line; even if there’s that possibility you’ll lose everything in the process. And that’s a lot like one’s waking life. You’re either the type that attempts to calculate the most reasonable outcome in your favor or you take that big risk under the hope that you’ll come out on top when it’s all said and done.

Since I find myself constantly in limbo on how I play the stakes, I suppose there’s middle ground to be had in this argument. The only thing that’d be nice is to actually win some dough back every once in a while. But hey, there is that slim chance I’ll eventually win it all back, right? And in the process, make some much needed profit as well. So yeah, I suppose that’s just enough for me to keep coming back.

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