Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Howard Lederer on Poker and Zen

"The Professor of Poker" Howard Lederer talks about how Zen has influenced his game:

"Staying in the moment is the path to poker mastery. And it is poker tournaments that present the greatest challenge to this goal. How is it possible to think only about the current hand when you have made bad plays and taken bad beats only minutes before? How is it possible to stay mindful of only the current hand when if you could win this tournament it might change your life? These are questions that can only be answered by each individual player. But, I believe that the study of the Zen arts can lead you down that path.

"I realized that the more I could stay focused on the present hand and forget about bad beats and bad plays from my recent past, the better I would play. I also concluded that even more damaging to my focus on the present hand might be the nervousness brought on by thoughts of winning the tournament. Staying in the moment at the poker table is not an easy task. But, when I read "Zen in the Art of Archery," there was a concept that stayed with me. The master archer hits the target without having aimed. This meant that the more I tried to focus on the moment, the more I would not succeed. I could only find that focus from within myself. I decided that I would sit at the table and relax. For two years now, I have been practicing my own form of poker meditation. Instead of trying hard to focus, I allow it to happen through relaxation."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Negreanu and Lindgren in the New Yorker

"I went to speak at Ohio State and I ended up jokingly saying that I'm starting my Stay Out of School program," [Daniel Negreanu] said. "I was totally kidding, but, realistically, it's not that far-fetched an idea. For kids that are eighteen, nineteen years old, that are going to go to college, get a dead-end job where they make fifty or sixty thousand dollars a year, I can take that same kid, teach him how to play poker, and in three months show him how to make more money than he would ever make in that dead-end job.

"The stock market is gambling, right?" he continued. "This kid studies and he makes money in the stock market, and this is considered by society O.K. A poker player, a kid, sees all these idiots making poor investments on these poker hands and says, 'Wow, I could do a better job than they're doing,' and he studies, and he makes it. How is that different, realistically, than a stockbroker? I mean, I don't see the difference."

"Well," Lindgren said, "there's more cheating and collusion in the stock market."

- "THE PLAYERS: A new generation makes a card game a career choice" by KEVIN CONLEY