Thanks for taking the time to read my new blog. I hope I am able to write some useful pieces for all of you on your own poker quest. I thought I would begin by revisiting a subject I covered in another blog post a few years back.

Let me share with you a little story.

I have this friend who is a former sports agent. He represented jockeys on the Louisiana horseracing circuit. That's how we met. I am a thoroughbred trainer. My friend....let's call him John....loves to bet the horses and is a pretty good handicapper. One day we were at the races watching the simulcast action from Belmont Park when John took off for the betting windows like his pants were on fire and his butt was catching. He returned a few minutes later, out of breath and clutching a mutual ticket.

"I'm about to cash a big one," John said. He nodded toward the TV monitors. "See the three horse at Belmont?"

I did. Well, I saw his odds at least. The poor thing was 12-1.

"I don't know anything about the race, John, but the bettors sure don't like his chances."

John was undeterred and began to explain to me his reasoning. He is a very thorough handicapper and I don't question his methods. He wins. Often.

"The bottom line is that this horse should be about 3-1 in my opinion, and I'm getting four times that price. He'll win by a pole.

We settled in to watch the race, and I prepared myself to buy dinner because I was sure that John would be broke in less than two minutes. The horses broke from the gate and John's horse came out like a rocket. Jockey Gary Stevens gunned him right to the lead and opened up a comfortable three lengths before getting the horse to relax into a marvelous pace. The others horses gave chase and tired quickly. When they emerged from the final turn John's horse was up by 5 and Stevens hadn't even really asked him to run. They barrelled down the stretch toward the wire and now I was thinking about where John would take ME for dinner.

John's horse was less than 100 yards from the finish when it happened. The late afternoon sun in New York had thrown a series of shadows across the Belmont track. John's horse saw them and got scared out of his gray hide. He hit the brakes and up and over went Stevens like the daring young man on the flying trapeze. The terrified animal literally stood there less than 100 yards from victory while the other horses flew past.

John was inconsolable. "I did everything right! You saw it! He was a winner! I made all the right handicapping decisions and look! Just look!"

"Wow," I said. "How often do you think something like that happens?"

"Probably one time in a thousand," John moped.

"So, if you make all the same handicapping decisions you made today then you will win that bet 999 times out of a thousand?" 

John looked at me and smiled, his pain of having lost the race a mere blip now on the betting radar. I had reminded him of one of the most important things a bettor can ever learn:  decisions matter, outcomes are irrelevant.

Whenever I play poker I try to focus on making the best decision I can given the information I have. I want to make the best decsision each and every time because I know that this is what produces poker profits in the long run. It's all one long game. Believe it or not, the decisions I make today are tied into my future outcomes no matter what happens on this particular hand. Whenever I call a bet, if I have made the right play, I can rest easy knowing that whatever happens in the hand doesn't matter. If you have this frame of mind getting sucked out on the river won't bother you nearly as much. You can smile, say "Nice hand", and know (just like my friend John) that your good decisions will ultimately land you in your own personal Winner's Circle.

Good luck. I look forward to seeing you at the tables.