Options In Life And Poker

Nasdaq defines financial options as "… contracts through which a seller gives a buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specified number of shares at a predetermined price within a set time period. Options are derivatives, which means their value is derived from the value of an underlying investment."

That’s needlessly complicated. What an option really is, oftentimes, is an agreement between two parties.

"If Event W happens then X will occur, but if Event Y happens then Z will occur."

For the sake of this article and my sanity, we will stick to this definition.

I have very few talents in life. I was not athletic growing up. I never excelled in sports. I got average grades in average classes. I tried to succeed as an artist, but I had my books and scripts rebuffed consistently. I stammer around women, and am frequently overly nervous in social situations. I got below-average grades in math growing up. On a fishing boat,

I learned I was not good with machinery, or even handy. Working in kitchens, I found I wasn’t a good cook.

I, however, set myself up with options in life that practically guarantee I will win.

An example: When I was 18 and still bumming around odd jobs and security work, I decided to take the plunge into professional poker.

People told me I was nuts. I had shown no special intelligence in any other topic. I couldn’t exactly blame them.

However, I saw going to college as the sucker bet, the losing option, and I stand by that analysis to this day.

I looked at my options as this:

I go to college by taking out loans. I will get a generic degree when I get out of school, after I’ve sacrificed four years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars. If I get a job right out of school, it will still take me years to pay that loan off. If I don’t find a good job, the juice will be running while I find one.

That’s six years of my life for an unsure thing. No thanks.

Professional poker I saw this way: I was poor as hell at the time. If professional poker didn’t work out, I’d still be poor, I’d be out my poker bankroll (a few thousand), and perhaps a year. However, the upside was potentially millions.

I didn’t see the second option as much of a risk, so I took it. Somehow, it worked out.

All of life is like this.

Scared to go up to that girl? Well, the potential downside is brief humiliation and anger at yourself. It will last a few hours.

Days if you’re really shy. However, the upside is getting to date your dream girl. Sounds like the odds are stacked in your favor.

Have a hard time motivating a high school sports team you coach? Convince them they’re the underdog. Tell them no one expects them to win, so why don’t they just go out there, have fun, and see if they can shock people? Now, they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

You should always be asking what option you’re buying into right now. Are you getting the sucker end of the bet?

While I was not good at pretty much anything else in life before poker, I succeeded in this game because I can spot a sucker bet better than most.

I’m not even that good at this particular skill (I have taken the sucker bet in many relationships and business deals) but I am slightly better than most people, and that’s all it takes.

The ultimate sucker bet in this game right now is the threebet.

If you threebet someone in position right now, they will call you with practically anything they open. Which is good, because they’re opening with practically anything.

When they call you, they don’t ever donk lead into you out of position, nor do they checkraise as a bluff or with one pair.

This is the biggest sucker bet in the world.

Imagine if I said this to you. "Hey man! Let’s play a game. I’m going to threebet you. You’re not allowed to fold anything you opened with. Then, on the flop, if you miss, you fold to me. Then, if you hit a pair, I have the option to take two extra free cards. Sound good?"

That’s a sucker bet if I’ve ever seen one. 

Don’t forget I’m allowed to pump up the pot on the turn if I hit something, as opposed to just waving us through to the river.

Good luck to all of you.

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