Confessions of a Grinder
Many poker players are superstitious. Is this true? No. I believe ‘every’ poker player is superstitious. According to me, being superstitious brings out a more psychological explanation than one based on religion and ritual. As simple as it may sound, people like to be comfortable in their zone. Well-known professional poker players exhibit this habitual, comforting and often obsessive-compulsive phenomenon, too. Sammy Farha, an aggressive high-stakes cash game specialist held an unlit cigarette in his mouth when he finished as the runner-up in the 2003 World Series of Poker. He has continued the habit since. Johnny Chan, the two-time WSOP ME winner and a master poker pro carries his lucky orange with him, which he initially carried to eliminate the smell of smoke, around him. Barry Greenstein, a charitable poker player and philanthropist, writes in his book that a sex partner who travels with you can be a big asset. When ‘Texas Dolly’ Doyle Brunson wins a big pot; he always plays the next hand regardless of his hole cards. Doyle also carried his lucky Card guard named Casper in all his poker sessions, and made up to $15,000 a year renting it out to other poker players! Every poker player is guilty of their own bundle of superstitions.
I admit that I am highly superstitious too. I wear my lucky jacket in all games; avoid cutting my nails on Saturdays; list my chip stack towards the east, and look at my hole-cards one at a time. These minor superstitions make up my own comfort zone. There are so many other things you could do to bring good luck and avoid ill luck. You could wear dirty clothes, not sit cross-legged, avoid dealer eye contact, carry fruits or horseshoes, spit on cards or not bathe, but the fact of the matter is that even though it comforts you, it will not help you. Maybe, you could invest in a few lucky card guards but it’s best you do not indulge in pondering about luck too much. Rumor has it that Annie Duke encourages others at the table to be superstitious because it sometimes makes them play badly – talk about smart strategy! As for me, I always believe in the Latin proverb Fortes Fortuna Juvat – Fortune favors the brave.
Good luck at the tables!