It takes courage, by Joe Hachem

jhache.jpgby Joe Hachem

The courage of a sportsman takes him through some of the most difficult moments a person can face, and he needs to face them again and again. The courage to get back out on the field or the floor after you've taken a hard knock. The courage to push yourself further and the audacity to believe you can be the greatest.

When your sport is poker, you also need the courage to risk your chips, even when you can't guarantee the outcome. While there's many things a poker player can do to determine what the most likely result of the next hand will be - read his opponents, play the odds, understand the room - even for the greatest and most informed player, there is always that small percentage of the unknown that requires a leap of faith.

A leap of faith can be both a terrifying and an invigorating prospect, but either way it requires a big dose of courage to propel you forward. Perhaps you find yourself down to the final two in a leading tournament; you've beaten your way through a field of thousands and accumulated a hefty chip stack. Your opponent has done the same and you're both feeling the pressure of the past four days of play. One wrong move and the whole game could be lost. The natural temptation is to protect yourself - play small, play close, not make any big movements or take to many risks.

However, to move the game forward, for someone to claim victory you will need to pick your moment, draw on your reserves of courage and go all in. Whether you're at a home game with your mates or the final table of a major tournament, the decision to go all in is one that brings with it a surging rush of adrenaline. A great poker player will calmly find their way through that adrenaline rush to play out the hand, and hopefully be able to celebrate when it comes to the river card.


I've always found taking that big step exhilarating, but I also know how important it is to manage that rush, which is why on The Poker Star show this week, I was looking for a contestant who felt the same. To discover who had what it took to conquer their fears and go out on a limb, I took the contestants on a heart-pumping tightrope walk between two sixteen-storey buildings.

A small plank placed between the two buildings and a safety rope were all the contestants could rely on to get them from one building to the next. Tensions ran high as players discovered what I already knew - the first step out into dangerous territory is always the scariest, but with a bit of courage you can make it the rest of the way.

As Josh, the first player to cross, made it safely, and gratefully, to the safety of the opposite building he smiled and grabbed onto the steadying wall with relief. As I smiled at him and told him that he'd done well, but now he had to turn around and come back again, he looked at me incredulously as though I was joking. When he realised I wasn't, his face fell as he turned and steeled himself to complete the terrifying walk a second time.

I'm proud to say that Josh pulled himself together and drew on his courage to turn around and cross back over one more time, as did his fellow contestants.

Because having the courage to make a brave move once is impressive, but having the courage to push yourself to make those challenging leaps again and again is what makes a true professional. And that's what I'm looking for in The Poker Star.

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in PokerStars news