LESSONS FROM THE POKER TABLE
J. Austin Bennett
“Some days you’re the dog. Some days you’re the hydrant.” From Anonymous.
I like quotes. I’ll bet this one hits home for all of us. We have all had days when we just wanted to go home, lock the doors and windows and hope they can’t come in and get us.
Here’s another one from the same source. “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him you’ve made plans.”
Life deals us some strange hands. It was in prison that I discovered a latent talent for writing. The same thing happened to William Sidney Porter. You can see his works dramatized on television each Christmas in “The Gift of the Magi.” We know him as O. Henry.
One friend of many years was a very successful software salesman. So successful, he became the regional vice-president of his company earning a high six-figure income. Then along came the merger. You’ve heard of downsizing?
After sitting in the limbo of his own tears for six months or so, he realized that similar employment opportunities didn’t exist for a man nearing fifty. So he invented a new type of thermostat and made several million dollars. Amazing what you can accomplish if you suddenly have time on your hands.
We all have our preconceived ideas about where we are going to be in a few years. The problem is that life doesn’t groove a fastball over the center of the plate with every pitch. Sometimes, just for fun, life throws that wicked curve ball over the outside corner. That’s when it gets interesting. Our complacency is shattered by necessity!
I promised you some good quotes. Here’s another:
“We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.” - Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 – 1859
The sad thing is that most of us find a comfortable niche and trudge on, expecting it to last forever. Of course, our Creator intended life to be a learning experience and so . . . . . . . .
“The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable but not quite.” G.K. Chesterton
It’s easy to form a pattern and stick to it. It requires no imagination, very little thought and absolutely no courage. Jesus kept telling his disciples, “Fear not!” He repeated it so often I wonder if he might not have done better with sign language.
Apathy and complacency have a price too. Another quote from Anonymous:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.”
Sure. You can venture into unfamiliar terrain and wind up on your posterior. So what! Harlan Sanders was sixty-five and had been bankrupt three times before he got the crazy idea that someone might want to use his personal recipe. Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC as we know it today, was born.
Another one from Anonymous (He must have been a busy guy):
“It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.”
The key is a willingness to try new ideas. They won’t all work out as planned. Napoleon Hill in his book THINK AND GROW RICH said, “Every failure, every adversity and every heartache carries within it the seed of a greater or equivalent benefit.”
Our focus is usually so firmly fixated on our present endeavors that we fail to answer the door when opportunity beckons. We just bemoan our bad fortune when our best laid plans crash and burn.
“Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.” Maurice Setter
I promised you a lesson from the poker table. Just as no one wins every hand, no one sails through life unscathed. Life isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be, a spectator sport. Since we only make one trip, why not make the most out of it and go all in? And if you get with the program and get in the game, you’re going to collect some bruises along the way. Remember that poker movie, THE CINCINNATI KID?
“You only paid the looking price. Lessons come extra.” Lancey Howard (“The Man”)
I want to tell you a story; a true one. It’s about a young man who was the star running back on his high school and later college football teams. He also held the state record in the 440-yard dash as a track star at Hardin-Simmons University. Records in Texas are BIG ones. Ask any Texan.
Doyle’s athletic career and dreams of the NFL ended tragically while working a summer job at a gypsum plant. With his knee crushed, sports suddenly became a memory instead of a future. Our young friend enjoyed playing poker and turned his attention to the card tables. After putting himself through college with his poker winnings, he continued to play professionally.
Then, without warning, he felt a small lump on the side of his neck. He wasn’t worried, but just to assuage his wife’ fears, he had it checked. The doctors told him there wasn’t much they could do. It was terminal cancer. One thing this man lacks is any “quit” in him. He sought a second opinion from the Great Physician and Jesus still makes house calls.
That was forty-six years ago. Since then, Doyle Brunson, who will unashamedly and unequivocally inform you that he is a Christian, has won ten World Series of Poker bracelets. Now seventy-three, Texas Dolly can tell you that there will be a lot of surprises along life’s roadway.
I’ll close with a favorite quote of his:
“Luck favors the backbone, not the wishbone!”
So let’s shuffle up and deal!
J. Austin Bennett Copyright © 2006 Use with credit.
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