"Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts
the person in an endless effort to satisfy
the need without ever reaching the satisfaction."
-- Erich Fromm
Greed and winning poker have a complicated relationship. While a player’s goal is to win, and while a player who beats a game to
the tune of $14 an hour should strive to reach the level of $15 an hour, greed is one of the most serious, dangerous, all-consuming
evils a player needs to fight to be a winner.
There are a couple of greedy poker practices that players do time and again. In
ring games, players try to “win the tablecloth.” In
tournaments, players try to win the tournament when there are still five, or fifteen, or even fifty people left. You simply cannot do
either of these things. But people seem to try anyway.
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These are just two specific examples of why greed is not good, not in poker. Wanting too much, or too soon, usually leads to crashing
and burning. People who are greedy are also inevitably wasteful. They have to be. They try to handle too much. It’s a lot easier to
drop one grocery bag when you are trying to carry eight at one time.
To be greedy is to be never satisfied. But success in poker absolutely requires a person to occasionally lose. Nobody wins every
single pot they play (not even Lucky Kevin). But a greedy
person, since they want everything, will go after chips they have no business chasing -- or in some cases, no business even wanting.
If you want every chip, that means you invite every
trouble, every opponent, and every difficult
situation under the sun to take you on. When the battle is “Ralph against the world,” I’ll be
betting on the world.
Greedy players don’t know
how to lose. Greedy players mostly lose in a huge bonfire of calamity.
Learning to lose sensibly is one key to winning.
If you can't handle losing, you'll never win over the long haul. If you can’t lose without losing every nickel you can beg, borrow or
steal while propping your eyelids open with toothpicks after playing for forty hours, just set fire to your
bankroll now. You’ll do it eventually.
Obviously greed and ego are brothers, but they are definitely not the same thing. Ego can be satisfied at a point. Greed always wants
more. In a way, greedy players can never win because they are never “done.” If there is more that could possibly be won, they keep going.
Some players make a horrible mistake by trying to win every pot they play. If your only chance of winning is by making a million-to-one
bluff on the river, the only player (besides a total nitwit) who will make that bet is a greedy one. Wanting to win this pot is senseless,
wasteful, destructive greed. You ought to take a cold shower any time you sense yourself doing things like this.
Before anyone starts say, “Oh, that Badger, he’s so conservative that one of these days he’s going to take root and become a tree,”
I’m not suggesting players should not want a lot. A goal to be the biggest winner is fine -- but it’s crazy to want to be the only
winner. Go after your share, try to make it a bigger share, but make sure you know how to
Fortune favors the bold. Nobody ever said fortune favors the greedy, for good reason. World history and poker history are littered
with people who wanted everything -- sometimes even when they had almost everything. Wanting everything is the quickest way to
having nothing that I know.
Also see: Poker Ego,
Poker Envy and
Stubborn Poker Players