“You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. You can’t win much either.” Mike McDermott Rounders (1998).
Now that the new year’s resolutions are out of our system, can we really talk goals?
This week, I want to tell you guys a story. A story about man called “Treetop.”
Jack Straus was a professional poker player who played a lot of high stakes games in the 70s and 80s. And he’s the winner of the 1982 World Series of Poker main event championship.
He was also 6’6” tall. Therefore, the nickname.
Early on day two of that tournament, he bet what he thought was all his chips on a hand and lost. But as he was getting up from the table, he discovered a single $500 chip underneath a napkin used under a drinking glass.
Tournament officials allowed him to continue because he never declared he was “all in.” That chip barely allowed him to post the ante for the next hand.
He won the hand. And he ended up winning the whole tournament.
This is where the phrase “all you need is a chip and a chair” – to win a lot of money on the poker table – came from.
Let’s pull back. 1982 was well before the days that ESPN televised the tournament. We don’t know exactly how many big hands he had to construct his comeback. The winning hand was a pair of 10’s over a pair of 4’s.
Let me ask you this:
- What’s the most dangerous lead in baseball? Five runs.
- What’s the most dangerous lead in football? Nine points.
Yes, it’s way more difficult to come back from ten runs or from three touchdowns. But those aren’t the most dangerous leads in those specific games.
Those leads are the most dangerous because you can’t overcome them on a single play.
There’s no such thing as a five-run home run. A touchdown and a two-point conversion still leave you down by one.
And while grand slams and touchdowns with two-point conversions are sexy plays to watch, they don’t really turn games around when you’re down by big margins.
Chipping away at the big leads is what turns games around.
So, the question you probably have is this: what does five-run home runs, nine-point touchdowns, and poker comebacks have to do with making the big goals in your life your big reality?
Let’s go back to the poker table. What is the best single five card hand you can?
If you said a royal flush, you’d be absolutely right. You win nothing but my undying respect and admiration. I mean, I have nothing of monetary value to give you. Y’know, other than the gold I share every week on the Good Men Project.
But I digress.
A royal flush is the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of the same suit. And since there are only four suits in a deck of cards, your odds of getting a royal flush are pretty astronomical.
How astronomical, you may ask?
How about almost 650,000:1!
The key to winning on the poker table isn’t waiting to get the massive hands like Royal Flushes and Full Houses. The players who win the most money in poker are the ones who grind out hand after hand, picking up smaller pots, until they hit pay dirt.
Let’s relate to our goals the exact same way. If the way you approach making big goals, your big reality is waiting on grand slams and two-point conversions, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.
Make small, smart, calculated risks and you’ll go far.
To that point, here’s another famous story from the World Series of Poker’s salad days.
Let’s go back to May 1976. Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas.
The main event that year had 22 entries and a first-place prize of $200 thousand. That was only the 7th edition of the famed tournament.
For comparison sake, the 2017 WSOP main event had a first prize of $8.1 million with better than 7200 players.
Most high-stakes poker tournaments are contested with No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. You get two hole cards and the dealer deals five community cards, and the best five card hand wins. It’s a variation on seven card stud.
In ‘76, the final two players were a guy who sold cars for a living, and one of the best high-stakes players in poker history.
In heads up play, an Ace and a Jack is deadly. And that’s the hand that Jesse Alto picked up. Alto was no slouch on the felt, but he wasn’t a professional player.
Alto’s opponent was Doyle Brunson. Doyle is in his 80s and still plays in some of the highest-stakes games in Vegas. He has the presence of the gentle Texan grandpa who can still whip you in cards.
But in 1976 he was the most feared poker player in the world.
Opposite Alto’s Ace and Jack, Doyle picked up the 10 of spades and the 2 of spades. Garbage cards with a full table but even worse in heads up play.
But Doyle had the lead in chips.
The flop – the first three community cards – were an Ace, Jack, and 10. Alto had a major hand – two strong pair. Doyle had bottom pair but a weak kicker.
Doyle attempted a bully move – moving all in to get Alto to fold. Alto called the bet, but he put all his chips at risk.
It was an easy call, but risky for Alto.
Keep in mind, these guys had been grinding for hours. Hand after hand…
The turn – the fourth community card – was a 2. Doyle had two pair, but he was still an underdog in the hand.
The river…was a 10! Doyle caught a full house and won the whole thing.
The punchline is that Brunson won the WSOP the next year with the exact same cards!
My point is this, he played the hand smart and got greatly rewarded for it.
Here’s the life coaching lesson I want to leave y’all with.
If you want big things in your life, take steps every day to make those things your life. If you want to lose weight and get healthy, take steps every day to make that happen.
You’re not going to lose 20 pounds in a day. I’m just saying.
If you have a goal of doubling your income in a year, take steps every day. You’re not going to do this in a day. Unless you hit the lottery.
If you have a goal of finding your one true love and dropping down to a knee – it’s probably not going to happen in a day. You’re going to have to weed out a few princesses to find your queen.
Be smart. Be calculating. And grind your goals into submission.
Don’t simply wait on the five-run home run or the royal flush.
I’d love to see you go all in on your life. Let me support you.
Email me at [email protected] for a free sample session.
- If there’s a big writing project you want to create, do I have the program for you! King Ryan’s Writer’s Boot Camp is a 10-session virtual seminar designed to jumpstart big writing projects and get you on the right track. More information can be found here. If you register before February 14th, 2018, you receive a 20% discount. Just enter the code “WRITETHATBOOK” at checkout.
Big goals can be scary. They can be intimidating. But if you go all in on your life, you can turn your big goals into your big life.
What’s it going to take for you to go all in on your life?