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The Poker Player’s Manifesto Part XXVII - The Conclusion

by Bryan Devonshire |  Published: Sep 16, 2015


Bryan DevonshireOver a year and 30,000 words ago I began writing The Poker Player’s Manifesto. For the purposes of this magazine, this series is finished. In case you missed it, here is the entire series at 1/30th scale.

Have a good attitude at the poker table. If you are an amateur player, then your purpose at the poker table should be to have fun. If you are a professional, remember that the people losing to you are there to have fun and you should be a facilitator of that fun. Always play within your bankroll. Playing within your bankroll means not caring about losses. If you care about that money you lost then you are playing too big.

Balance Your Life With Poker. If all you do is play poker, then you will end up unhappy. Have something you enjoy that isn’t poker and do it often. Have patience, both in life and at the poker table. If you are not patient then you will lose more often. Use patience in game selection. Always do your best to put yourself in the best possible game. Sometimes that game is not the biggest game your bankroll can handle, and sometimes that game is not hold’em.

Whether you are amateur or professional, if you play poker then you are a member of the poker community. It is beneficial to you to be nice to people. Make friends. Pursue opportunities. Poker is a social game, engage with your fellow humans. If you are professional, then other professional poker players are your colleagues. Granted you compete against them, but there is competition in any workplace. Keep it friendly. Staff and media are also your colleagues. That means you should be nice to dealers, floormen, and the media. Even if you are not nice, it still behooves you to be nice to people. If you are not a nice person, then I assume you are a selfish person, and being nice to people can actually further your selfish agenda.

Pay Your Taxes. If you can’t pay your taxes, then at least file your tax returns on time.
Cash games should be your bread and butter, but there is a lot of value in tournaments. If you are a professional, what you choose to play should always be the game with the highest hourly that is within your bankroll. If you are an amateur then play the game that you have the most fun playing without risking too much money. When playing cash games, the goal is to win the most money. Put money into the pot when you have the best hand, fold when you don’t, unless you are getting the right price to draw. In tournaments the goal is also to win the most money, but the only way to do that is to finish in the top three. More chances need to be taken in tournaments to maximize your chances of a top finish rather than maximizing your chances of simply making the money.

Variance Is Your Friend. If you are an amateur, then it gives you a chance to win. If you are a professional, then you need people thinking that they can win to keep coming back to gamble with you. Variance is much bigger than any of us can comprehend. The best poker player in the world can have a losing year playing poker.

What makes you good at poker is not your results. Somebody is always going to have better results than you. What makes you good at poker is how you think about the game. Decisions should be made and evaluated based on information available at the time, not results after a decision. All you can do is control your decisions. You cannot control what happens after you make your decisions. You can plan ahead for what might happen after each possible decision.

Know Yourself. Most poker players think they are good at poker. Most poker players are not good at poker. You can always improve at poker. Sometimes bad luck is why you lost, but if you are using bad luck as an excuse for why you lost, then there is likely other reasons why you are losing. If you want to get better at poker, then you have to admit that you are wrong sometimes. You have to listen to those better than you. You must work hard.

Know Your Opponents. Poker is a game of people and people have trust issues. People are moody. People have tells. The more you know about that person you are playing poker with, the more likely you are to make the correct decision. People say eyes are windows to the soul, and that’s why people wear sunglasses. People are often wrong too. Don’t wear sunglasses at the poker table. Eyes are not the greatest source of information. They are not a reliable source of information. Instead look for information in people’s feet, hands, heart rate, and blood pressure. These indicators are much more honest. Wear a scarf instead of sunglasses.

Life on the poker road is hard. It is taxing on the body and bankroll as expenses pile up. Everything you spend at a poker tournament takes away from money you can earn. It is good to use poker to take trips, expenses are tax deductible if you are professional. Focus on poker while you play poker, leave yourself time to do non poker things while on the trip.

Spend Time At the WSOP At Least Once. Play the main event if you can. Don’t get burned out in Vegas. Go into the main event well rested with your chores taken care of. Make it through day 1. Enjoy the ride, play good now, in this spot, in this moment. Be nice to people. And trust me about the taxes.

It is now that I must bid farewell. Many thanks to Card Player magazine for giving me a shot at writing for them back in 2008. Thank you to Justin Marchand for buying me that first beer and helping me come up with first ideas. Thanks to Jeff Shulman for being Happy. Thanks to Jess Welman for years of friendship and excellent editing skills. And thanks to Wendy Chang, sorry for being just a little late far too often. And to everybody in the Card Player family, I have been proud to call you colleagues. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for reading. It has warmed my heart all the positive feedback I have received, and it is for you that I have kept writing all these years. I am still a professional gambler, just moving on to new endeavors with my writing. Peace and love to you all. ♠

Bryan Devonshire has been a professional poker player for nearly a decade and has more than $2 million in tournament earnings. Follow him on Twitter @devopoker.