Poker Wisdom of a Champion

Doyle BrunsonWe thought we’d share some of Doyle Brunson’s advice from his 1984 book, Poker Wisdom of a Champion.

Doyle believes that most ‘players would do well to examine themselves carefully before every game’, and given that he is regularly touted as one of the best three individuals ever to peep at pocket aces, his words might be worthy of consideration. Keeps them moving and look at

So, as most people should recognise that playing in the wrong frame of mind can be a wonderful method of shovelling cash to your opponents, let’s have a look at ‘Texas Dolly’s’ seven point checklist.

1. Have you had enough sleep? If no, don’t play.

(Bear in mind it was written in the eighties, before the online game exploded and players began a policy of bed-avoidance in July. We wonder if Gus Hansen would agree – in one forty-eight hour session, he managed to turn around a two month, million dollar deficit.)

2. Is there something else you would rather be doing? If yes, don’t play.

(An interesting one this – it seems to imply poker should feel like your number one priority. We’re not sure GA would agree.)

3. Are you feeling physically well enough to sit through a movie? If no, don’t play. When you are tired or you’d be fidgety in a theatre, you probably won’t play your best poker.

(With the amount of people multi-tabling these days, we suspect a bit of adrenaline might be necessary to keep them going and look at Phil Hellmuth – a multi WSOP bracelet winner but hardly Mr Phlegmatic.)

4. Are you so mad at someone that it is interfering with your concentration? If yes, don’t play.

(No quibbles here. It is possibly the single most important thing. Read Zen and the Art of Archery for more insight.)

5. Are drugs, alcohol, or medication interfering with your logical thinking? If yes, don’t play.

(Look at how he qualifies the point with ‘logical thinking’. He seems to have foreseen the day when people would pop ‘n crunch Adderal.)

6. Are you emotionally upset? If yes, don’t play. Fights with your wife or girlfriend are not healthy to your money clip.

(Whilst true, this point manages to combine elements of number four and casual sexism.)

7. (He says this is the most important advice) Do you feel like you’re going to win? If no, don’t play. Give credibility to your hidden feelings. Your subconscious might be analysing things you are not aware of.

(It is hard to disagree. The wording might be a little off – how can you give credibility to your hidden feelings? – but he proves that he could also have been a champion of the positive thinking movement with the final gem of the Dolly’s checklist.

At the end of the article, he offers the following as a wave-off:

‘If it looks like a good game and you survive the checklist, then sit down and do some serious winning. Otherwise, save your energy for tomorrow.’


usa_OKIf you’re USA-based, like “Texas Dolly”, play with top professionals and poker novices – and anything in-between – online at Bookmaker Poker or BetOnline Poker.

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