The Gambler's GrooveThere’s a lyric in Glenn Miller’s 1940 song, “In the Mood,” that’s also true of gambling. It goes, “He said, ‘don’t keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood.’” Although this song spoke of love, it stressed how important it was to be in the right place, at the right time, and in the right spirit. The important ingredient to success remains being up for it—whether a person is in the mood to get chummy, to be competitive, or to gamble.
This is particularly true about poker and other gambling tasks that require some concentration. There’s a right time to play and a wrong time to even be at the table or online. I am not talking about just avoiding playing when you’re upset or “on tilt.” There are days when we all should just find another thing to do besides play poker. That’s because our moods are never always up and playing with a down mood can be very costly.
Have you ever noticed the moods of players when they’re doing well and when they’re losing? It’s true that the cards have no memory and that they know no favorites. Yet, when players are happy and seem to be enjoying their play, they also seem to be doing better. It has often been said that aggressive players seem to do better—at least in poker. Not enough has been said about how being aggressive includes laughing and making “a joyful noise.” That’s right. Players who are having fun are a bit louder than players who are suffering. This is one of the advantages of playing in a brick-and-mortar game. It’s a lot harder to figure out who’s up and who’s down in online games. Yet, if you read their comments, you might get some clues. Although, some losing players will whine a lot, which does more harm than good.
Now, we’re not talking about clinical mood disorders. That’s a whole other ballpark. Suffice it to say, if you’ve been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, gambling is not the way to treat it. Rather, I’m addressing the majority of players whose moods are either right or wrong for playing such games as poker and whose moods will cost them if they don’t pay attention to them. In fact, I have noticed that players are “gambling” more as opposed to playing the odds and paying attention when they’re in a down mood. For example, if you’re hungry, sleep deprived, or just having illness symptoms, it’s the wrong time to risk your stake. When you’re feeling bad, go home and nurse yourself—don’t try to get well by trying to win at poker. If you’re having a sleepless night or are worrying about things, it’s not the right time to get online to medicate yourself to sleep. Feeling bad is the worst condition for success in gambling. Unfortunately, a lot of players will go play poker to feel better. In other words, they already know that they’re not up and are playing poker to get up. Sometimes this works, since luck knows no home; most of the time, though, it will result in losing and in feeling worse.
Players who do well make sure they have plenty of rest, and wait to invest their money until they’re in good spirits. This means that the important ingredient of patience includes the patience of waiting until you feel good not only in spirits but also in your attitude about yourself. It’s important that these good feelings aren’t conditioned on how well you did the last time you played. How often have you been ahead and the next time you played you lost? Rather, feeling up for the game is having an unconditional regard for you.
How often have you heard a person answer the question, “How you doin’?” with a comment on how much they’ve won or lost? It never occurs to some players that the other player may be asking how they’re doing in their lives. Try only answering the question of how you are doing with how unconditionally you’re accepting who you are at this moment. If the true answer is “Not so well!” It’s time to pick up what’s left of your stake and wait to play another day.
On the other hand, if you can truly say, “I am good,” and mean it about how you are unconditionally accepting who you are and feel good about yourself, go for it. Being in the right mood is the same as being in the right groove. There’s a time to spend and a time to invest your dime. As the saying goes, “Don’t spend a dime before its time.” That includes gambling at the right time.