The Fine Art of Knowing When to Fold ‘Em

I’ve never been very good at poker. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a particularly strong poker face. I’m pretty easy to read. But that’s not my main problem.

My lack of success in poker has more to do with strategy than it does with appearances. To play poker well, you have to have a firm grasp of the numbers. Probabilities.

Most of the time, you’re not really going on feel or intuition. It’s about the math. Do you have a hand that, in this situation, is likely to yield good results? If so, you raise the stakes. If not, you fold.

Gut feelings and luck have nothing to do with it.

As a highly intuitive person, this is a big challenge for me. When I’m dealt a hand that’s marginal, I’m liable to make my decisions based on how I feel about the situation, rather than taking a truly disciplined look at the facts.

Fortunately for me, life isn’t like poker. Relying on intuition frequently pays off well for me. Real life involves a lot more than mathematical probabilities. My tendency to listen to my feelings and intuition frees me take risks on situations and relationships that, at first glance, don’t look so promising. It means freedom to try new things, even if the payoff is unclear.

Sometimes, though, I need a reality check. When I’ve been hitting my head against a wall, trying the same thing over and over. When I’ve gone down a particular rabbit hole just a little too deep. When I’ve convinced myself that I know the right course of action, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I need to check the numbers, to think again.

Knowing when to fold ’em is tough, especially when I’m emotionally invested in the outcomes. But it pays to take a step back and reevaluate my assumptions. The next hand I’m dealt may be a whole lot better.

How about you? Do you live your life by the book, or do you shoot from the hip? How do you know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em?

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