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Your Love Affair With Poker
by Timmor L. White

Let's talk about love. What is love? Love is the most powerful emotional experience a person can have. Love manifests through an intense, overpowering, all-consuming devotion. Love is, necessarily, based on respect and admiration. Love is the highest of human aspirations.

Believe it or not, if you want to win consistently at poker, this is exactly the type of love you must feel for the game. Do not laugh at this statement. Obviously, I am not referring to the same kind of romantic love you feel toward your spouse or the same kind of life-sacrificing love you feel toward your children. But your love of poker should be a powerful love just the same.

I won't mince words. There is no shortcut here, and there is no faking it. You must feel genuine love. You cannot merely act like you enjoy the game; you cannot pretend that your heart is in it. When you are seated at a poker table, either online or in-person, you must feel with every cell in your body that there is nowhere else you would rather be at that moment in time. Do you know that feeling?

You need an intense and immediate love, not for the money you can make, not for the fame you can attain, but for the wonderful game of poker itself. This is an important point. Many people say they relish the game, but what they really love is the potential 'result' of playing poker. They love the money. If they can earn a nice income playing, that is, of course, a favorable result. Who wouldn't love that? But do not confuse an appreciation of money with an appreciation of the game itself. The two are very different. Some people love the fame that follows from successful play. But again, do not confuse love of fame with an emotional feeling toward the game itself. The object of your love should not be anything that comes about as a result of playing. Instead, the object of your love should be the mere act of playing. Just sitting at a poker table, win or lose, that is what should get your blood a-pumpin'.

If you are playing poker solely to make money, you will find winning difficult. If you are playing just to become famous, success will elude you. If, however, you are playing out of an intense love of the game itself, you stand to win. Ironically, money and fame will then come to you as inevitable side-effects.

I am talking about a love affair: a love for every facet of the game, for its incredible beauty, so beautiful you cannot help but worship its magnificence with every breath you take. When you are seated at a poker table, you should feel that you are home. You are where you were born to be. And you thank God that He has granted you such a wonderful mission in life as to play poker. You feel gratitude that the game exists, that generations of players have lived and died to perfect this pure treasure, that it is here now and you have the privilege of sitting at a table in the modern age and partaking in this miracle of competition. Anything less isn't enough.

You love all the world because poker is part of it. That is how you need to feel about the game. Appreciate it. Treasure it. Love it.

All top players have this one thing in common: they profess an unbounded love for the game of poker itself. So should you.

I remember talking with Johnny Chan one day many years ago. We were seated next to each other at a table, and neither of us was doing particularly well at that moment. At one point, he started rubbing his eyes. I turned to him and asked if he was feeling tired. His answer, which I will never forget, was simply, "God, I love this game!" That's it. That says it all! Those words are the epitome of what a true poker player should feel at every moment while cards are being dealt. Johnny expressed the passion and intensity that is necessary to play world-class poker. Whether you are winning or losing, whether you are rested or tired, your love for the game should outshine any other feeling you may have. Your love of poker must always be front and center.

Every painstaking decision -- call, fold or raise -- should be an exercise in admiration for the game that is poker. That does not mean those decisions come easy. No, they never do. But you must love the contest. And your love should permeate everything. Your love should never be in question, and you should never doubt that "love" is the right word to describe your sentiment.

If that is how you feel toward the game of poker, then I say to you: you have what it takes to succeed. If, however, you feel anything less than that, then I say to you: either develop and cultivate a burning love for the game, or find some other way to spend your precious time during your life's journey. There is no middle ground here. Either you love the game with a passion overwhelming (in which case you will succeed) or you do not. Only you can make that determination. Take an honest look into your heart, and act in accordance with what you find there.

Timmor L. White is the founder and president of Online Poker Systems. He is active in the study and reporting of online-poker playing strategies. He has also developed a system to Cheat at Online Poker.

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