Flashes of Brilliance
by dtools22 | Published May 22, 2012
We can find motivation in almost anything. The power of the internet and the instant transmission of information it provides is so powerful that entire communities can be inspired by the plight of a people half a world away. We can marvel at engineering feats that we may never get the chance to see in person. We can see pictures of the deepest depths of our planet. What may be most important is we can now share our stories faster and more thoroughly than ever before. These stories can be used to inspire, no matter how innocuous or fleeting they may appear, and those men and women that star in these stories become legendary for their personal sacrifice and dedication to their cause.
I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since I was a very little kid and my team has always been the New England Patriots. I remember in those early days with Drew Bledsoe at the helm the knock on the Patriots was that they couldn’t run the ball consistently. So in the 1998 NFL draft they grabbed a man by the name of Robert Edwards out of the University of Georgia to fill that particular gaping wound. After a stellar rookie season, Edwards tore up his knee in a beach flag football game during the offseason. He was told by doctors at the time that he may never walk again and he came very close to needing an amputation from the knee down. Edwards just continued to rehab and to work towards getting his career back. He would eventually find his way to the Miami Dolphins where he worked his way onto the roster. It was during a preseason interview that I happened to be watching when Edwards was interviewed by a sideline reporter. The reporter said to Edwards that his coaches kept seeing, “flashes of brilliance” in his performances. For some reason, that phrase stuck with me.
I think as poker players we have an acute understanding for that phrase. We all have moments that make us love this game. Sometimes it’s lying in the weeds while your opponent bets off his or her entire stack right into your lap, others it’s about pushing your table around and completely dictating the action. Whatever the case may be, you figured it out. You got the maximum value out of your hand. Like a great chess player, you were able to calculate exactly what your opponent was going to do next and plan the perfect counter strategy to it. These are the moments we long for as players. Hell for most of us, these moments are the reasons we got into the game in the first place. We all want that Hollywood ending. That moment when we’ve “looked into our opponent’s soul” and found all the answers we needed.
It’s also easy to fall so in love with the idea of posterizing your opponent that we forget to look for the simple value that we can pick up by just playing basic poker. We get so caught up in trying to have our moment in the spotlight that we miss all the little hands that make us big winners in the long haul. Most sessions of poker are going to come down to only a handful of spots that will ultimately determine the outcome of your session, but it’s the smaller hands that will be the more numerous decisions during a typical day at the office. Yes ultimately when you get your whole stack in on a cooler hand or you get sucked out on by a 2 outer with one card to come for a several buy-in sized pot that will have the greatest effect on your bottom line. That doesn’t mean you can just go throwing away an extra bet or two paying someone off when you know you’re way behind. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be going for as much value as your hand dictates in the smaller pots. Those flashes of brilliance can blind us from our ultimate goal, winning.
I’m not suggesting don’t enjoy those flashes of brilliance when you have them. What I’m trying to say here is don’t let the fact that you just snapped off a bluff attempt or picked off someone trying to run an angle shoot on you cloud your judgment in later streets. You need to be able to put the hands in perspective almost immediately after they occur. That’s been one of my latest projects. I’ve had a few big moments lately at the tables, those hands where you start to believe the crap you’ve been saying about yourself. You start to really think you are getting very good at this game and it really is just a matter of putting the hours in before you come out on top. Just don’t suddenly forget what got you to that point in the process. Hours upon hours of hard work.