From the Big Screen to the Final Table Platoon

Modern cinema is a great tool for teaching players how to learn the game because it crosses cultural barriers in a way that few teaching elements can.

All one needs to do is listen to the advice that can be found in the lines of a variety of films and then remember their relationship to playing poker.

Now this doesn’t mean that you can repeatedly use a line from Goodfellas in conversation while playing, but it does mean you should keep in mind the concepts that go with the line.

Although Charlie Sheen has found a lot of success through his television sitcom Two and a Half Men, the role that endeared him to many film fans was his turn in Platoon as a fresh-from-the-war soldier that has to come to grips with life while doing a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Arguably Sheen’s best role (next to Wall Street), his portrayal of the young Chris Taylor was an amazing look into the moral firefight that mirrored the opposing political and social forces that were happening in the United States during the war.

Although it is unfair to compare the war and poker, because poker is just a game, there are several lessons that can be learned from the stellar dialogue (and story lines) that drive the movie.

“I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves.” — Chris Taylor

When you go to war on the felt, make sure you’re prepared for the long haul.

One reason why winning poker players continue to score titles and big bucks is because they understand this concept.

This means that you have to do things prior to play to take care of yourself so that you have the right state of mind before going into the day’s action.

Whether this means working out before hitting the felt or going to bed at midnight the day before a tournament, these are things poker players need to do to be at their best. Sure, some players can live like rock stars for a while, but in the end, this kind of lifestyle will destroy them and it directly affects their performance at the tables.

If you’re smart, you’ll treat yourself as well as the world’s best athletes treat themselves, and do the things champions do to get to the top.

If you find a hole in your game, lose your ego and fix it.

One reason why losing players continue to lose is because they refuse to look at their game through unflinching eyes. This pattern appears when a player refuses to figure out where the weakness in their game is, not to mention take the appropriate time needed to fix it.

Many losing players are so caught up in their egos (and the fact that they think they can do no wrong) that they would rather repeat their losing patterns instead of doing something about it.

Look relentlessly at your game and then fix the leaks. You’ll be happy you did once you start winning.

If you’re not ready, trust yourself and walk away.

Although some macho players believe that a player should play regardless of what their intuition is telling them, a number of winning pros believe the opposite to be true. There are times to play and there are times not to. If you feel uncomfortable or something tells you that you should sit out, make it a habit to listen to that instinct.

The Tao Te Ching tells us that sometimes the best solution is to do nothing at all. If you apply this to poker, it means that one should wait for the right circumstances before deciding to enter the fray as their will always be opportunities to find action.

If your head is not in the game, you need to be able to be smart enough to walk away instead of forcing yourself into a situation that will be detrimental to both your thought process and your bank roll.