How my $10k win at poker changed the way I think.
How a $10k Poker win has changed my outlook
Philipp Kiefel was asking me to sign up for a particular online tournament for the third time in just two days. It was a huge first prize of $10,000 (PS7,000/EUR8,250) and he thought it would make good practice. Although I am a science writer, I was not a professional player. After taking up the game for a while, I decided to start studying it serious to find out how to improve my critical thinking.
However, I was at school collecting my daughter, so I wasn’t able to access my laptop.
“Picking up Ava,” was my reply.
I felt guilty but had no desire to play that day.
He said, “You have 26 mins before late registration closes.”
“Will make it,” I gave in and capitulated.
Ava and I decided that walking home was not an option so we jumped into a taxi and arrived home in only a few hours. She went to her room and played with her Lego. I sat down in the kitchen to play with strangers online, completely unaware of its impact on my life.
I beat 1,666 players to win the tournament that day and claim the $10,000 prize.
My surprise win was just the beginning. Over the next few months, I would be matched against a controversial opponent I had never met. This player was known for his negative comments about women and his crazy Instagram life. I would enjoy 15 minutes of fame on the poker media and then be drawn into the wider issue regarding sexism. I would also get training from some of the most respected poker coaches around, who were my idols who have helped me win millions and became friends. It taught me a new way of thinking about poker and the wider world. It changed the way I saw everything. It all started on that December afternoon at my kitchen counter.
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The past several years have seen me working on a book that will explore the mental rewards of playing poker. I realized that writing a book about poker’s mental upsides would require me to write from my own experience and show my readers how I play and win. But I’m just an amateur player. I enjoy the game as much as people love running and yoga. Like many other people, I also got a coach: Kiefel, a German pro at online poker.
I was reluctant to sign-up for the online tournament he recommended. Because there is no entry fee, most players will play in freerolls and undervalue their chips. They’ll also tend to play with little care and just spit out their stacks. They show human psychology at work. If you give something away, they will be less likely to value it than if they have paid for it. I was not interested in wasting my time on what I considered to be a game. Kiefel was however of a different mind. He stated that playing with players who are less invested was a positive thing. “Playing your game will crush them.” I did. Poker Games