Aces Full of It: The Truth About “results”

Now, try to follow me on this one…

Some time ago, I got into a discussion with a CardsChat member, I forget exactly who, about the concept of poker goals.  I believe in that discussion, I cleared up the ambiguity that will be the main focus of my topic today at least for that person, but even now I’m concerned about even the possibility that many other players may think the same way.

My view on results isn’t just a view I hold in poker but is a cornerstone of my philosophy on life and I’m very passionate about it.  Likewise, the sort of problem the mentioned ambiguity creates is one that doesn’t just affect someone’s poker game, it’s one that can affect their entire life.

What exactly ARE “results?”

The major point of contention in my original discussion elsewhere was that the other person thought it was bad advice to focus on results when considering how to approach a poker game or tournament.  As far as I could tell, they considered “results” to be the result of a session or a tournament.  In terms of that way to define results, they were of course absolutely right.

But to me, having such a restrictive view of what constitutes results is even more unhelpful by a wide margin!

My opinion on results is that really, your “results” can mean just about anything, and not even just in poker either!  But let’s keep things to just poker for now.

In order to answer the question “what kind of result are you looking for?” anyone playing first needs to answer the question “what does poker mean to me?”  I’m sure most of you have heard that certain tired phrase “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Well, I’ve long believed it’s in need of an edit.  In my view, it really isn’t whether you win or lose…but it’s also not how, but instead why you play the game.

Whether that game is poker, chess, baseball, or even the game of life!  What do you want?  What are you willing to do to get it?  What are you able to do to get it?  What are you not able to do to get it?  If you don’t answer these questions properly, any dream that you chase, in poker or anywhere else, you are doomed to never reach.

Example #1

Unless you’ve followed a similar train of thought as me, it’s doubtful at this point that you have much of an idea what I’m talking about.  To hopefully illustrate things, I have 2 examples, one I’m tying in directly to poker, and one to life in general.

For our first example, I present two people, Donald and Danny.  Donald is motivated much as it was presupposed in the instance that precipitated this entire post: they want to win, and they don’t want to experience a single session or tournament loss if they can help it.

Danny isn’t really invested in winning at all, he may know a thing or two about proper ways to play the game, enough not to be some “Johnny all in” or make many plays that I would describe as more than a little stupid, but he’s not so much interested in going deep as they are having a good time.

Donald and Danny both enter the Main Event of the WSOP, and both get knocked out on Day 1.  Donald has an ordinary time, and gets knocked out by a bad beat.  Danny winds up somehow seated at the same table as Doyle freaking Brunson, has a really nice conversation with him, gets his autograph before inevitably handing over all their chips to him, and takes a selfie with him on the way out, and brags on every social media platform they can think of about the whole experience on the way home.

Yes, this is in fact what our Donald looks like.

In our case, Danny has achieved a positive result.  They won nothing, they didn’t even make Day 2, but the condition of having fun, the condition that actually matters to them, is met.  What I’m trying to say here is that the concept of results is inherently a subjective one.

There is no objective best case scenario, it all depends on what YOU want.  In my own case, if I fail to get ITM in an event but made no play that I would consider a mistake, especially one of my usual mistakes, I consider that to be a positive result–and therefore it is in fact, in every sense that matters, a positive result.

In addition to that “not whether you win or lose” saying, you’ve probably heard any number of platitudes about having a positive attitude.  Are you starting to actually understand a little bit just what the heck that whole idea is on about?  If not, don’t worry–I’m about to give you another chance.

Example #2

For our example in the world outside the pokersphere, let’s say there’s a boy named Johnny.  No, not a Johnny-All-In, just a regular, let’s say 8 year old kid named Johnny.  Johnny wants to be a professional baseball player when he grows up.

He plays Little League every year, and he plays okay.  Let’s say he even exercises, plays outside, that he’s a generally physically active kid.  However, even after he learns about and starts performing serious training regimens that he can do, he just doesn’t turn out quite athletic.  By the time he hits high school, he makes the school team…as a pinch hitter.

I’m going to pause the example there, for now.  My using an example of a young child wanting to grow up and be a sports star is really cliche, I know.  However, if you consider possible motivations behind a child wanting to grow up and become a sports star, I think you’ll have a much better idea of the meaning of what I’ve been saying in this post.

All right, unpause.  To answer the question of our intermission, let’s say Johnny wanted to become a baseball star in the first place because he saw baseball stars as really cool, beloved figures that people look up to.

Let’s further say that somewhere on down the line between first wanting to become baseball Donald, becoming a pinch hitter on his school baseball team, he finds he really enjoys cop shows.  He develops a passion for criminal justice, eventually going to college and getting a degree in that.

Thanks to him being active physically earlier in life and keeping up with this even though his baseball dream faltered, he is able to fulfill the stringent physical requirements for joining the FBI and becomes an investigator.  Eventually, he is a key figure in foiling a terrorist plot, saving hundreds or possibly thousands of lives.  He’s featured on the national news.

Johnny has, in effect, achieved what all along was his true dream. He has a really cool job and people look up to him as a hero. In this example, he only had to switch his method of attaining this once.  This makes him in my opinion very lucky, but more importantly, it’s possible, plausible even, for someone who goes through such circumstances to never even realize what his dream really was until after the fact. And that’s if at all!

Yeesh, ya might as well rename me Mell O’drama.

That is the path of the ordinary.  If you can go beyond that, if you can realize what your dream really is before you even attained it, a multitude of paths will open before you–to the point that even if many close off, you never have any reason to give up hope because you can always find another.

Wow this kind of went off on a tangent.  I swear the next one will be pure poker, guys!

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