At an Arizona Diamondbacks pre-season baseball game the other day, I had to smile when a middle-aged man returned to his seat from the refreshment stand. He had filled up on all the goodies -- hot dogs, soft drinks for the kids and wife, cotton candy, and only the Lord knows what else.
As he moved gingerly down the row in the bleachers to where his family was seated, an exuberant fan shot to his feet, colliding with the overloaded dad. Food, drinks and cotton candy flew in all directions and the hapless father went sprawling on his face. Fortunately, he escaped injury, but he ended up covered with mustard, relish, Coke and all the other ingredients that had gone into the preparation of the treats.
That was a real bummer. But isn't this the way many people act when they gamble?
I have played in poker games where some of the other players were watching (and wagering) on baseball games, football or horse races. One man was marking Keno tickets, while another was texting somebody on his Smart Phone.
That is not a recipe for winning at any gambling game of substance.
When I was a student at an elementary school in Blythedale, PA,, my third grade teacher Miss Donnelly emphasized one point that she hammered into our young heads day after day. Some of us listened to her and profited from the advice. Most did not and paid a penalty.
Her advice was stay focused.
Winning gamblers need to stay tuned to many things in order to turn a profit. It does not matter if the game is poker, blackjack, dice, horses, or betting on a sports event. You need to stay focused on the odds, any mitigating factors such as a horse's latest workout, weight or a change of jockeys, or even the condition of the track.
If your game is poker, you need to concentrate on the other players. Your cards, of course, are important. But it's even more vital to discover the factors in your opposition that determine how they are playing.
Is the player in seat three on tilt because he had a bad day at home or at the office? It will affect his judgment and his starting hands as well as the raises he makes before and after the flop.
Watch the body language of the other players. Are they taking actions to impress a girl friend or a buddy who is standing behind them, or do they really have a hand?
Is the player more interested in the horse races on the television monitor in the poker room or the baseball game on which he has a sizable wager? If the answer is yes, he is not 100 percent focused on the game and it will affect his judgment and the quality of his play.
When I lived in Las Vegas, I knew a cocktail waitress who made as much money playing poker as she did from her tips. Samantha was a native of Hawaii and a beauty who knew how to dress to bring out her physical qualities. She wore dresses that were low-cut and provocative. She also was very careful in where she chose to sit, preferring to be between two older men who would be attracted to her obvious physical assets.
Samantha used her smile, body language and scintillating conversation to throw the other players, especially the males, off their game. She managed to take the minds of her foes off their play and it paid off big-time when he cashed in her chips at the end of an evening.
Miss Donnelly was right. If you want to win at life, stay focused. It can really pay off.