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Keep Your ‘One Time’ In Perspective

by Linda Johnson |  Published: Dec 11, 2013


Linda JohnsonAn unusual incident occurred while I was playing at the Commerce Casino earlier this year. A player — whom I didn’t know by name but recognized from having played with him at the same table a few times — looked down and announced that there was a $1,000 chip on the floor and wanted to know if anyone had lost it. I had that alarmed feeling and quickly reached into my pocket to see if I had three $1,000 chips in it; sure enough I was missing one of my $1,000 chips. “It’s mine,” I claimed and the player tossed the chip to me.

I was feeling a bit awkward since anyone could have claimed the chip and I really wanted him to know I was telling the truth. I think I said something like, “Thanks so much for being so honest. The chip must have fallen out of my pocket when I switched seats. I had three $1,000 chips and now I only have two.” To my surprise, he answered, “I never doubted for a minute that you were telling the truth. I know who you are.” We got to talking and he revealed something else that surprised me. He said, “I’ve been reading your columns since you were the publisher of Card Player. In fact, I still carry in my wallet a copy of one of your articles that you wrote a long time ago. I’ve read it to my son and used it in my discussion of life lessons to him.” He pulled out the article and showed it to me. Sure enough, it was a copy of a “Publisher’s Pen” column that I had written for the holidays in Card Player volume 12, issue 26, dated December 24, 1999. Since it had such an impact that someone would carry it around with him for 14 years, and since most of you reading this article today weren’t reading Card Player in 1999 (and if you were, you wouldn’t remember the article anyway), I decided to rerun the same article in this issue of Card Player in the hopes that it will hit home for some of my readers. 

To quote from my 1999 “Publisher’s Pen” column: This is the holiday season, and in lieu of my regular column, I would like to share with you a reprint of the following  message by Erma Bombeck that was written after she found out that she was dying of cancer.

If I Had My Life to Live Over

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I wasn’t there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more,

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed,

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains,

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television — and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner!”

There would have been more “I love yous,” more “I’m sorrys”…But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it…and really see it…live it…and never give it back.

Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let’s think about what God has blessed us with, and what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually.

Life is too short to let it pass you by. 

We only have one shot at this and then it’s gone. I hope you all have a blessed day.
— Erma Bombeck

Since this is a poker publication, are there some things we might do differently at the poker table if we had the chance for a “redo?” Maybe we wouldn’t get angry when we got a bad beat. Maybe we wouldn’t have thrown cards at the dealer because he made a mistake. Maybe we would have giving up playing a tournament in order to go to a son’s ball game or a daughter’s recital.

This article will appear at the start of the holiday season. I wish you each a wonderful end to 2013 and hope the future brings you everything you want and deserve. Don’t forget to live your life so that you don’t have regrets when it is over. ♠

Linda is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, has a WSOP bracelet, teaches WPT Boot Camp, and is available to host charity events, seminars, tournaments, ladies events, and corporate events. You can contact her directly at