The NY Jets missed the playoffs for the first time in three years yesterday in an ugly 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The blame could be spread around to multiple parties, including Rex Ryan's bizarre coaching and Mark Sanchez's interception glut. But right there in the midst of responsible persons was team captain/wide-receiver Santonio Holmes, who reportedly argued with team mates and caused turmoil the huddle. According to many of the offensive line players, Holmes basically "gave up" on playing team ball/winning and was benched by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer halfway through the game.
Ex-Bears head coach (and now commentator) Mike Ditka was asked this morning on Mike-and-Mike ESPN sport talk radio whether losing someone this talented guy in the middle of an important game cost the Jets a shot at the playoffs. Ditka said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Talent is important, but there are lots of talented people in the NFL. What matters more is heart. Discipline. The will to win. That's why the Jets lost yesterday. Players like Holmes didn't want it badly enough."
This got me thinking about poker (as many things do). You can study books, watch videos, attend strategy discussions, post on forums, and so on. These are the things that constitute "talent" in poker. There are lots of guys in the poker world with talent, including (ahem) your's truly. What separates the men from the boys however is Heart. Discipline. The will to win. These are often the reasons people do or don't win at poker.
We have to acquire the skills and "talent" to succeed in today's tough poker games, but this isn't enough. In fact, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Learning how to stop tilt is more important. Having the heart to play through tough stretches. Having the discipline to play your A-game when beats and coolers are raining down like proverbial cats and dogs. Embracing results-don't-matter. Not giving up when things are going wrong. Playing perfect poker all the time, every hand, every session, every day. And learning from our mistakes, not dwelling on them. So what if you throw an interception. Shake it off. Learn something from it. And get back out there.
Life is short. Play to win.
All-in for now...
PS. And speaking of football, did you see my 'niners this year? A brand new coach, tons of new players, a history of choking mid-season.... and this time they went 13 and 3. We're in the playoffs, baby. And with a bye week, too. Woo hoo!