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Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

by Greg Raymer |  Published: Dec 01, 2021


I love the movie Galaxy Quest. It has great characters, played by fantastic actors, with a super script. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking it is awesome, as it has become a cult classic since its release in 1999.

The movie is a science fiction comedy that parodied franchises such as Star Trek. In it, the washed-up cast of an ‘80s space adventure TV series find themselves on a real-life interstellar quest.

“Never give up! Never surrender!”

The movie made this phrase famous, as it was the tagline of Commander Taggart, the leader of the crew, and frequently uttered by him, and all the obsessive fans of the show within the movie.

You can probably imagine that I am going to talk about ‘never giving up’ in a tournament, and give you some chip-and-a-chair story to inspire you. Of course, this is an important concept. As long as you have a chip, you have a chance, and you should play your best regardless of how short your stack is.

But there is a similar issue that is even more important. Just like you need to play your best even when your stack is down to crumbs, you also need to play your best all the other times.

A common example of this we have all seen is a player going on tilt. (Hopefully it was someone else, and not you.) Something gets the person upset, and they start to play worse and worse. As a result, they often lose all their chips in a tournament, or their entire stack in a cash game.

As I write this, we are almost three weeks into the World Series of Poker, and I have been here playing as many events as possible. Towards the beginning of my trip, I was playing in a lower buy-in event, and a player came to our table as a new entry. This person looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I knew them or not.

The player proceeded to play rather poorly, and carelessly. It seemed like they just wanted to hit a lucky flop and build a stack, or bust out quickly. At one point, the player open-raised, then called a reraise for almost 30% of their stack. They then proceeded to quickly check-and-fold the flop.

If you weren’t aware, it is fairly horrible strategy to call off 30% of your stack just hoping to hit the flop. Not too surprisingly, the player busted not too long after that hand.

To my surprise, a while later, I saw their picture in my Twitter feed. As it turns out, the reckless player I had witnessed had actually just won a bracelet. I recognized their name, as they had some success in the past, and had generally been talked about as a strong player.

In fact, I am sure this person is a strong player. Or, at least, they are capable of being a strong player. But honestly, I am unlikely to form a positive opinion about their game.

In order to be a great player, it takes more than the ability to play greatly. A truly great player brings their A-game every time. They don’t screw around just because their stack has gotten short. They don’t play poorly because it is a lower buy-in event. A great player ALWAYS plays their best. Always. No exceptions.

The same is true in any competitive activity. It is not enough that you are capable of doing something. You have to actually go out and do it. If I could shoot low scores on the golf course, but I seldom did so, then I’m not a great golfer. I’m just wasted potential.

The same is true in poker. It is not enough that you know all the smart strategies, and are capable of playing great. You have to do it. And you have to do it every time you sit at the table.

We all need to study and work on improving our game. But first, work on your attitude, and your discipline. Learning to play better won’t help if you don’t follow through and actually do what you have learned. Strive to play your best every session, and every hand dealt. Only then will you achieve all that you are capable of.

Have fun, and play smart! ♠

Greg Raymer is the 2004 WSOP world champion, winner of numerous major titles, and has more than $7 million in earnings. He is the author of “FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies,” available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. He is sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To contact Greg please tweet at him using @FossilMan or go to