The "Rush" Epiphany

It's a known fact that I am and always have been a huge poker geek. Whatever I am doing, seeing, experiencing in the real world I always get that subtle urge to relate my thoughts back to poker - and vice versa, of course. I'm not talking about the kind of obvious stuff like relating the "AA" license plate on a car to "OMG, the guy has aces!" thought. Did I catch you on this? I guess we poker players all do that crazy stuff from time to time right?

What I tend to do has more of a philosophical touch to it. At least this is the case when I meet up with a close buddy of mine, an ex-professional PLO player, and we talk a lot about our views on the correlation of poker and life in general.

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Felix "xflixx" Schneiders

After all, it's tough to find people you can share this stuff with that can actually relate to what you're saying, so in this blog I wanted to share one of my most recent philosophical "epiphanies" with you. He brought the word "epiphany" to our table for the first time when we started talking about these kinds of topics and ever since they have started to pile up in the back of my mind. I'm sure there will be more I can share in future blogs in case you enjoy them.

When I flew over to Miami from Düsseldorf on my way to The Bahamas for PCA 2014 I killed some time watching several movies. One of them was "Rush" and I really enjoyed it. Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched it and are still planning on doing so, I would strongly advise to not read any further right now and come back after!

Finding inspiration on the move
Throughout the movie there were so many different quotes and themes that always reminded me of poker. One of them had to do with the different types of motivations to get involved in the first place which relate to poker just as well: some play for the one big win and take high risks for a higher reward - like James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) - others want to be consistent winners and just immerse themselves in their love for the sport itself, passing up on high risk opportunities. Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Brühl) represents the latter after declining on his chance to beat Hunt due to the bad weather conditions. Right before making this decision there was a scene in which he stared into the rain saying:

"Happiness is your biggest enemy. It weakens you. Puts doubts in your mind. Suddenly you have something to lose."

That line struck me like lightning and I felt like that perfectly related to many of the situations I have been in my poker career. Of course, this line sounds so illogically negative at first, but there is some truth to it. When I started out in poker I was a young math student with no job, no responsibilities but tons of opportunities instead. I was reckless, ready to take up challenges, move up in stakes, reach for the stars and my dream of becoming a professional.

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Plenty to smile about

Move on a couple of years. I have been a professional poker player now for quite a while, I'm doing what I love for a living and I am happily married to the love of my life. So, naturally when it comes to taking risks I am no longer as reckless as I used to be back in the days. There is actually something that I built to be the foundation of my life, and I definitely don't want to risk having it torn down. I realize now, for instance, that I have become more and more reluctant to take shots at highter stakes despite having the bankroll in plain fear of losing what I already have - which doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. It's just that Lauda is right about how tricky it can sometimes be to actually push yourself and your ambitions in poker on that basis. The quote may have this certain sound of negativity in it, but what I draw from it as a conclusion is something very, very positive and valuable for my poker career:

I need to make sure I don't let my happiness in life make me lazy or even complacent, but still find the motivation to take up opportunities, and to look for ways to push myself and set higher goals.

Felix "xflixx" Schneiders is a member of Team PokerStars Online.