EPT8 Berlin: Franklin's 13 (make that nine) Virtues of Poker


Today happens to be the anniversary of the death of Benjamin Franklin, who died 222 years ago.

Franklin appeals to historians for a variety of reasons, and spans a broad range of subjects. A Founding Father of the United States of America, Franklin was of a type of man not really produced anymore.

As a scientist he dabbled in physics, while as a musician he created the glass 'armonica, albeit an instrument you imagine only Paul Simon would employ in his band.

As an inventor he gave the world the lightening rod and bifocals, keeping the barn safe in a storm and allowing Grandma to read the TV guide in the hundreds of years since.

As a diplomat Franklin was ambassador to France (prior to Jefferson), in an age when the British threatened Paris with more than just football hooligans and summer traffic. He was even one of the first Americans to play chess; presumably he played against a foreigner.

But for me it's Franklin's 13 Virtues that make him the truly great man, a list of personal objectives which he strove toward each day in order to live to a standard which nowadays is considered old-fashioned, out-dated, and well, impossible, at least without a spell in prison or a large inheritance.

At the end of each day Franklin would check off the virtues he had failed to accomplish; his aim, to have no black marks against his name, and live the truly virtuous life.

That said, Franklin's problem was his fondness for drink, women and gambling. So with this in mind is it possible to implement the 13 virtues into the poker player's way of life?

1. Temperance - It's essential to keep your wits in a poker game, and alcohol can cloud your judgement if you start drinking too much too soon. Then again, if you find it helps, don't leave the first beer too late.

2. Silence - Don't give anything away with loose talk. Don't bombard anyone else with questions and keep your feelings to yourself; an approach adopted by this week by Ilan Boujenah.

Stay focused

3. Order - Stack your chips neatly. It means your opponent can assimilate them with their own stack much easier. And don't tuck your shirt into your underpants.

4. Resolution - If you're going to lose all your chips resolve to lose them, even if it takes the whole day.

5. Frugality - Don't waste chips, unless your plan is tied in with the point above. Also, steal water from the staff room, far cheaper than paying €4 a bottle on the tournament floor.

6. Industry - Work hard at your game, study, seek improvement, and if not wing it, don't confuse yourself, pretend you know what you're doing and hang around with that guy who busted in level one, but who still watches from the rail, at the break.

7. Sincerity - Ignore this...

8. Justice - And this...

9. Moderation - This one is just for Peter Hedlund.

10. Cleanliness - While this was dealt with by our able colleague Brad Willis during the PCA, it's worth re-iterating the hand wash policy in operation in most gentlemen's bathrooms around the world, although admittedly, this won't help those who pee on the toilet seat.

11. Tranquillity - It can be hard to ignore the antics of those sucking out on you. You could take the Olivier Busquet approach of learning to meditate. Far easier to buy $200 headphones and Tweet abuse in return.

The standard tranquility aid

12. Chastity - Um...

13. Humility - Let's make it nine virtues.

There you have it, the slightly adulterated list of ready virtues for the modern poker player. Impossible maybe, but as Franklin said, "Diligence is the mother of good luck." And without any of the things above, luck will do.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Berlin