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Words of Wisdom?

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Apr 01, 2006


While playing six online games simultaneously recently, I used the time between hands to browse the Internet for the sort of useless information that any self-respecting search engine churns out by the megabyte. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a source of proverbs from around the world, and many that could be applied comfortably in a poker context. See if you agree; I have roughly grouped them by theme:

A close friend can become a close enemy. (Ethiopia)

A monkey never thinks her baby's ugly. (Haiti)

A little too late is much too late. (Germany)

It's so easy to fall in love with a particular hand, only to find it is made from fool's gold rather than the real stuff. It's good poker to put every hand into its proper perspective, never overlooking whatever information can be gleaned from previous action on the hand.

A drowning man is not troubled by rain. (Persia)

He that seeks trouble never misses. (English)

Do not look where you fell but where you slipped. (Africa)

Many poker authorities have said that the true test of a player is how he plays when he's losing, and there's a lot of truth in that. How often have you seen someone steaming after losing a big pot? Never happened to you? Ever try to play while drunk, angry, tired, or stressed? I'm guilty as charged on all counts, and have the tee shirt to prove it, but hopefully as I've gotten older, I have gotten wiser. Time will tell.

A trade not properly learned is an enemy. (Irish)

Commit a sin twice and it will not seem a crime. (Jewish)

He who sups with the devil has need of a long spoon. (English)

In other words, you can't run until you have learned to walk. Learn from your mistakes, and don't eat Vindaloo curry if all you've ever tried is Tikka Masala!

A loan, though old, is not a gift. (Hungary)

Better give a penny than lend twenty. (Italy)

It is hard to pay for bread that has been eaten. (Denmark)

Even a small thorn causes festering. (Irish)

Have a horse of your own and then you may borrow another's. (Wales)

Nothing causes more trouble and grief between poker friends/acquaintances than the borrowing of money. It has never ceased to amaze me how casual some poker players are in looking after their creditors. If you can't repay by the agreed time, discuss it with the lender. If you've got to be chased, every player around you will get to know about it, and the well from which you would like to dip will soon run dry.

A rumor goes in one ear and out many mouths. (China)

A wise man hears one word and understands two. (Yiddish)

A lie travels 'round the world while truth is putting her boots on. (France)

A closed mouth catches no flies. (Italy)

He lied like an eyewitness. (Russian insult)

When it comes to gossip, the poker world is like a big village. We even have formal gossip forums on several poker sites. Some people seem to thrive on tittle-tattle, but I prefer to do my own thing and not get bogged down in who won what, where. Who cares? Focus on yourself, instead. It's hard enough to concentrate on your own game without worrying about what someone else is doing, or not doing. And as for bad-mouthing another player, unless you've personally suffered at that player's hands and want to warn others, discretion should be the better part of valor … you never know whom you might be hurting. They say that what goes around comes around. Schadenfreude, taking pleasure in others' pain or discomfort, should have no place in the poker world.

The last batch of proverbs is more general in application, but still offers useful nuggets of advice. I particularly like the last one. Have you ever looked back at some of your early – usually disastrous – poker decisions and wished that you knew then what you know now?

It is not a fish until it is on the bank. (Irish)

Feather by feather, the goose can be plucked. (France)

A new broom sweeps clean, but the old brush knows all the corners. (Irish)

Experience is a comb that nature gives to men when they are bald. (Eastern)

So now, if you don't mind, I'll get back to my games. Kukhuvud (Lund) and Runkkar(Forssa) are ripe and ready for plucking, and if I keep my mouth shut, I might catch the early worm. spade

Lucy "Golden Ovaries" Rokach has long been one of the most successful tournament players in Europe, with 14 major European titles to her name in the last five years alone. She hails from the Midlands in the U.K., but can usually be found on the European tournament trail.