No matter how hard a player tries to avoid disaster in a casino, those days will come. They are as inevitable as the rain. It falls on us all and the only thing you can do is get out of it or buy a raincoat.
I mean, even Donald Trump with all his brilliance as a negotiator and deal-maker occasionally must declare Chapter 8. That is bankruptcy in anyone's language. Bankruptcy is not necessarily failure. Sometimes you must go that route in order to regroup and try again.
All of us have known gamblers who go on losing streaks. Some of those streaks can be financial disasters. They seem to last forever. Nothing you do to stop them seems to work. You even think about giving it all up. 'If I stop gambling,' you ponder, 'this pain will go away.' And in some cases, maybe that is exactly what you should do.
But just as you will certainly face those wasted days and wasted nights that happen to every gambler, you will experience winning streaks that make you smile and hope they will never end.
One of the most famous stories of a gambler who bounced back from disaster in a spectacular way happened to Doyle Brunson.
Doyle was a young man and a winning poker player when he became very sick. He didn't know what the problem was and sought medical help. After an exhausting battery of tests, doctors told him he had cancer.
They said it was terminal.
Surgeons scheduled him for an operation. Doyle prepared himself or the inevitable. He went into the operating room and the surgeons took out their scalpels. They invaded his body -- and came up with nothing.
No tumors. The cancer had seemingly vanished like a bad wind.
In a long-ago interview, Doyle told me, 'Well, after I recovered from the surgery, I felt so good about life that I went on a tear. I mean, I became unbeatable at the poker tables. I had 21 straight winning sessions. No matter what the other players did, they couldn't take my chips.'
'That was the best winning session at the tables I have ever experienced.'
A number of players on this website have sent emails to me telling about their own failures. They have lost heavily at slots, poker, roulette, baccarat, dice or the horses. They ask for advice on how to stop the pain and I try to comply with the best suggestions I can come up with.
I tell them to change games. Change casinos. Take a vacation. Even find a new hobby.
When I give this advice, I think of a slogan I learned as a child: Who heals the doctor when he is sick?
Physician, heal thyself.
In closing, I recently went through my own version of hell at the poker tables. Sometimes skill isn't enough to win. The Ides o March come upon you and nothing seems to work. In my case, the cash games turned on me and players I normally had little trouble defeating in the green felt jungle began beating me like a drum.
I came up with a plan to end those wasted days and nights. I dropped the cash games and turned to tournament poker. When you play in a tournament, you can reduce your cash outflow sharply since all you are risking is the buy-in or that particular tournament.
In a cash game, there is no limit to the amount you can lose. But in a tournament even though you start with $1,000 or $10,000 in chips, your buy-in is limited to whatever the structure o the tournament calls for.
This week, or example, I will be playing in only four tournaments costing me a total of $160 for our nights of play. That's a total outlay of $160 that could return between $6,000 and $10,000 dollars if I make the final table in all our tournaments.
Will it happen? Will my new strategy help me to end those wasted days and wasted nights?
We shall see. You will be able to read about it here. And while I am thinking about it, how about joining me in wishing Doyle Brunson a happy birthday. He recently turned 82 and although he occasionally experiences those pains that come to everyone who has led a good long life, he is still one of the most successful players poker has ever seen.
Let the games begin.