by Phil Gruissem

Don’t hate on Dan Colman. It feels to me that he felt wrong about the next step so he chose to voice his concerns without knowing exactly how to proceed. He is having a moral dilemma and has not yet found the solution. His intentions seem to be good and honest, and he may have cost himself a lucrative deal. So we should give him some respect. And it seems like he’s finally started a discussion on this topic, so here is my point of view.

First of all, I think the biggest downside of poker wasn’t even mentioned. In many countries, poker is often used as a vehicle by casinos to get people who are interested in a strategy game to do other forms of gambling. It’s the gambling that wastes time, energy, and it destroys lives.

Like any occupation, poker is extremely tough, and unfortunately there are many who don’t make it. So, you could argue that open markets create a lot of losers. That’s another discussion. We are living in a world that is survival of the fittest, and poker is obviously the same, but poker seems to be more fair because everyone has equal chances no matter their age, skin color and education.

The people Dan mentions who suffer from poker are very likely to suffer in other aspects of life or any other job. The poker table can be used as a mirror of your real life. However you treat things at the poker table: making big decisions, how you treat people, how you treat the wins, the beats, your discipline… Are you a risk taker? Are you running away from negative emotions? Colman calls all of this suffering, but maybe it’s just the fastest way of self-developing. By playing poker, you actually get the chance to experience these feelings frequently and learn how to handle them faster. After a breakdown comes a breakthrough, and in poker you have these very often.

Poker should be treated like anything in life. If you don’t find the right balance, it’s not good for you. There are fine lines between playing a strategy game, running away from real life and being addicted.

Use the time at the table as a life experience. I’m not saying you should dedicate your life to poker, but if you ever sit down at a table, use this time to experience yourself. From emotion control, social skills and rationality, whatever you want to take out of poker in order to grow as a person, you have so many opportunities. I see a huge potential in this community as many have been lucky enough to see the world, recognize problems everywhere, and at the same time have had the freedom develop themselves.

For example, one of my biggest lessons that I learned from poker is to fear nobody and respect everybody. You can outsmart everybody and everybody can outsmart you in a single hand. This is the same mistake we do in life. We put people down and put people on pedestals too often.

Don’t get me wrong. I see the big downsides, especially that we lack contributing a lot to society. But once you understand this concept, you are able to make a decision for yourself to add value to society. (Check out the post by REG board members Igor Kurganov and Adriano Mannino on helping people through poker.) Obviously, I’d like everybody to join REG as first step, but what I really would love to see is that every poker player thinks about themselves and how they can contribute, not only with money but all of their resources now and in the future. Trust me, the only way to be 100% happy if you are living in this poker world is to give back.