Why I Have Decided to Be a Professional Gambler

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”
—Les Brown

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is fond of saying that our sense of self-worth is based on our expectations, our life’s blueprint.

“Whenever you are happy with something in your life, it is because right now, the conditions of your life match your blueprint, or your belief about how life should be in that particular area,” Robbins says.

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.

Although I achieved all the goals I set as a senior in high school, ultimately those goals didn’t make me happy, nor did they provide me with any real sense of accomplishment. Not only do I think I pursued the wrong things in life — if I had to do it all over again, there’s no way I’d get involved in horse racing — but I now have this overwhelming desire to “redeem” all the time I wasted. After much soul-searching, I’ve decided how I’m going to do this.

I am going to move to Las Vegas and become a professional gambler.

On the surface, I know this sounds crazy, but I’ve never believed in thinking small or setting goals that don’t excite — or even terrify. As Robbins notes: “Don’t be modest or shy about what you want to do with your life. Dream big. What legacy do you want to leave behind? How do you want people to remember you?”

I want to be remembered as someone who wasn’t afraid to reach for the stars, someone who took the road less traveled by and didn’t get lost (unlike when I’m driving), someone who didn’t let fear dictate his life choices.

Of course, what the motivational gurus don’t often discuss is the effect of one’s decisions on others.

I don’t mind starving for a chance at greatness, I don’t care if people mock or make fun of me; heck, I’m even OK with failure (as long as the effort is there). But I’m not comfortable asking others to make similar sacrifices or face comparable hardship as a result of a decision I, and I alone, have made.

At this point, I’m not sure how to resolve this dilemma, but I know that my life cannot continue along the same trajectory. And Newton’s first law of motion teaches us that, minus an unbalanced force, nothing changes — so I must be that unbalanced force.

Somehow, some way, I have to implement my plan. I recently ran across a passage from Factotum, written by Charles Bukowski, that sums up my feelings beautifully:

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery — isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it.

I know, to many, this probably seems selfish — and it is. But, in some ways, I feel it is destiny. Outside of my devastating charm, irrepressible wit and incredible modesty, analyzing numbers is my one great talent in life, yet I’ve done practically nothing with it.

Sure, I’ve maintained websites pertaining to my passion for analysis — the latest is Databasebetting.com — but I learned a long time ago that, in the gambling world, nobody really cares whether one is any good or not. In Beat the Book, author Dan Gordon notes that bettors “don’t like to hear that realistic long-term win percentages will be in the 55 to 60 percent range.”

Instead, they “want someone who claims to win 75 or 80 percent against the point spread,” Gordon writes.

Worse, as I have personally experienced — over… and over… and over… and over again — most gamblers simply will not accept an approach that is radically, or even marginally, different than their own, even if they are consistent losers. I have actually done studies on various gambling factors only to have people argue with me about the results because a friend of a friend of a horse trainer or coach says it’s not so.

This is why I think becoming a professional gambler is perfect for me. Personally, I prefer to live in a more objective world, where facts are facts and opinions are those things we share on Facebook and Twitter every 15 minutes.

I don’t fear failure, but I do fear looking back on my life one day and asking “what if?” To me, the most poignant thing on a tombstone is something that others scarcely notice — the dash between the year one was born and the year one died. That tiny line encompasses all the living we did.

I want mine to mean something.

Featured photo by Katrina on Unsplash.

How to Succeed by Limiting Your Options

“You should be afraid of taking risks and pursuing something meaningful, but you should be more afraid of staying where you are if it’s making you miserable.”
—Jordan Peterson

One of the things Tony Robbins preaches is that, if you really want to succeed, you need to “burn your [colorful adjective] boats.”

It’s a great statement, rooted in the notion that success is born of commitment.

Most believe the idea came from Cortes, the Spanish explorer who supposedly burned his entire fleet of ships upon reaching Mexico in 1519. And while scholars dispute the details of this incendiary tale — they claim Cortes didn’t burn his boats at all, but, instead, ran all but one aground and physically stripped them of their ability to sail — the intent was clear. Cortes didn’t want his men to have any means of retreat in their impending battle against the Aztecs.

“We’re all in and there’s no turning back” Cortes wrote in his journal, adding that his men had “nothing to rely on, apart from his own hands, and the assurance that they would conquer and win the land, or die in the attempt.”

I think there’s a lot to be said for this “no surrender” attitude.

Comedian, actor and television host Steve Harvey puts it another way. While he might not be well-suited for a career as a crisis team member, Harvey urges everybody seeking success to “jump.”

It’s an idea that is both appealing and terrifying at the same time, but it is something that I think is necessary.

Featured photo by Web Agency on Unsplash.

What Going to the Gym Has Taught Me About Life

“You have to build calluses on your brain just like how you build calluses on your hands. Callus your mind through pain and suffering.”
—David Goggins

There’s an old gym adage that I’ve always believed in: no pain, no gain.

No, this doesn’t mean you should crush your fingers between two weights and lose a fingertip, like I did a few years ago. It refers to lactic acidosis, or the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which can cause a burning sensation that is often very painful.

I tend to reach this lactate threshold fairly quickly and, while the science isn’t altogether clear on the role that lactate plays in muscle growth, I have always found it useful. Yeah, I know that’s “bro science” at its worst, but Dr. George Brooks, a professor of integrative biology of the University of California at Berkeley, backs me up — well, kind of.

“Lactate is not a waste product, and in fact, it is the most important [new glucose generator] in the body.”

In other words, Dr. Brooks is saying: “Dude, you gotta feel the burn to get the gainz [always with a ‘z’, my friends].”

But, on a serious note, if this notion of “no pain, no gain” works in the gym, why don’t more of us utilize it in our everyday lives? I asked myself this question recently after watching a video featuring David Goggins.

For those who don’t know who Goggins is, suffice it to say that he is the biggest badass on the planet. And he has a saying: “Embrace the suck.”

david-goggins-quotes-sucks
Photo from fearlessmotivation.com

Goggins believes that, just like in the gym, our greatest growth comes from welcoming pain into our lives. Rather than playing to our strengths, we should focus on our weaknesses, Goggins says.

“We’re not gonna triple down on our strengths. We’re not gonna do that crap. We’re gonna work on our weaknesses so we grow. We need friction to do that. Without friction, there’s no growth. Without friction, there’s confusion.”

I realize — and I can’t pinpoint why or when it first began — that I’ve spent too much time in my life seeking comfort. I don’t have a lot of real close friends, but the ones that I do have I’ve leaned on too heavily for support… only, recently, it hasn’t been working.

In retrospect, I think this is due to the fact that I know in my heart that only I can make the changes necessary for me to find happiness again — if, in fact, that’s even the goal. I’m not really sure it is for me.

John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.”

I love that quote. And, in the same video I referenced earlier, Goggins gives his own unique take on it — which I found incredibly moving.

WARNING: Strong language.

Look, I’m not a religious guy, but I do believe that we should all strive to maximize our potential… and I know I haven’t. Being happy is not going to change that; family and friends are not going to change that.

Only I can.

Why Silent Dreams Are Destined to Remain That Way

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
­—Walt Disney

I really like this clip (for the full video, go to MotivationGrid). I know a lot people don’t like publicly sharing their dreams for a variety of reasons, but I can’t help but think the biggest reason is fear — fear of being laughed at, fear of being told they can’t do it, fear of not really believing themselves that they can do it.

Connor MacGregor’s dreams were ridiculous. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dreams were ridiculous. The Wright brothers’ dreams were ridiculous.

We should all strive to have ridiculous dreams.

Featured photo by Denys Nevozhai in Unsplash.

Where Does Happiness Come From?

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Given that it’s been a while since I posted anything here, my intent was to write something eloquent and meaningful — in other words, something completely different from my previous posts.

But as I was doing some other work — work that actually pays the bills — a video came on that grabbed my attention (often, when I’m in my office, I’ll play YouTube videos, sometimes for motivation and sometimes just for background music or sound).

Before I discuss the video, though, a little background information is in order.

Contrary to the view of Charles Barkley in the famous — or infamous, depending on your point of view — 1993 Nike commercial, I’ve always wanted to be a role model and to help people if/when I could. In fact, this desire in me is so strong that psychologists even have a name for it — the “savior complex”.

According to the People Skills Decoded website, “The savior complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.”

Now, lest you think I believe this is a good thing and that I start each day with a smile on my face for being such a great person — I don’t. In truth, I think my need to make people happy is often counterproductive and even destructive… which brings me back to the video.

It’s three and a half minutes long and features Will Smith discussing the difference between fault and responsibility. The whole thing is worth listening to, but the part that really got me was when Smith said: “Your heart, your life, your happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.”

One day, I’m going to accept that.

 

Featured photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash.

New England Patriots Illustrate American’s Disdain for Success

You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.
— Shannon L. Alder

I’ll be rooting for the New England Patriots today.

Not because I’m a fan, mind you — I’m a Seattle native and a longtime Denver resident — so rooting against the Patriots has felt as natural as wheezing in the Mile High City’s thin air after a five-block run… not that I would ever attempt such a ridiculous feat.

No, I’ll be cheering on New England for a different reason — to celebrate success.

Since Sept. 30, 2001, when a 24-year-old Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback from Drew Bledsoe, who was injured in the previous game, the Patriots have accumulated a 220-65 regular season record and have been to the playoffs 16 times — with a 29-10 record and five Lombardi trophies to show for their efforts.

In the new millennium, no other team has even come close to that level of achievement. New England’s 29 postseason wins since 2000 is nearly double the 15 recorded by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, who are tied for second. In fact, the Patriots’ all-time playoff winning percentage (they were 7-10 prior to the arrival of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick) is the highest in history.

Think about that. The Patriots have a higher postseason win rate (64.3 percent) than the Green Bay Packers (60.7 percent), San Francisco 49ers (60.0 percent), Pittsburgh (59.0 percent) and Dallas Cowboys (55.6 percent).

As former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson might say: “How ‘bout them Patriots?”

 

Yet, despite this, the boys from Boston are largely despised.

A 2017 poll found that not only was New England the most disliked team in the NFL (right ahead of the Cowboys — sorry, Jimmy), the Patriots were thought of “negatively” by 42 percent of the poll respondents as well.

What’s more, 24 percent disliked the (younger) man named Brady.

Of course, folks will come up with all kinds of reasons for the lack of love — from the Patriots videotaping opponents to deflating their balls — but I think most people abhor Brady and his New England teammates for one reason: they’re too good.

And being too successful is a red flag to many in our country.

In a column that appeared in The Washington Post, authors Charles Mathewes and Evan Sandsmark viewed this as a good thing and lamented the fact that attitudes on the subject seem to be changing.

“We used to think that having vast sums of money was bad and in particular bad for you — that it harmed your character, warping your behavior and corrupting your soul. We thought the rich were different, and different for the worse,” they wrote.

“Today, however, we seem less confident of this. We seem to view wealth as simply good or neutral, and chalk up the failures of individual wealthy people to their own personal flaws, not their riches. Those who are rich, we seem to think, are not in any more moral danger than the rest of us.”

RichPoll
Source: Pew Research Center

Mathewes and Sandsmark aren’t speaking out of their rear orifices either. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll, 55 percent of the U.S. population believed rich people were “more likely” to be greedy, while 34 percent believed they were “less likely” to be honest.

Yet, recent surveys also show that over half the country’s adult population plays state lotteries — presumably so they too can become greedy and dishonest.

This is especially amazing when one considers that, according to yet another poll (sorry for going George Gallup on everybody) only 13 percent of Americans say “being wealthy” is “very important to them.”

So, is there confusion over the lottery prizes? Do people think winning Powerball means a free package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp? (Granted, I’d play for that, but only because I really like Slim Jims for their artery-clogging properties.)

Tom Brady is a good-looking guy with a model wife, a lot of money and seemingly ageless talent. The New England Patriots are a football dynasty in a salary-cap system specifically designed to prevent such dynasties.

Far from booing the Patriots, we should all be cheering them.

Brady was a sixth-round draft choice said to be too “skinny” and lacking “physical stature and strength,” while Belichick toiled for 15 years as an assistant coach before getting his first NFL head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns — where he was promptly fired after five years and a 36-44 overall record.

Frankly, I’d be happy to share a package of Slim Jims and a Big Gulp with either one of them — but they’re paying.

Featured photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash.

Why NOT Going to the Gym Can Be a Great Idea

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”
—Ralph Marston

Because I’ve been so busy trying to get my new website up and running (more on that in a future post), I’ve been working a lot of hours. Consequently, prior to this evening, I hadn’t been to the gym in three days — a rarity for me.

But after my workout tonight, I was left wondering if longer breaks might, in fact, be a good thing. Not for the first time, I was amazed by how good I felt. My typical aches and pains were gone and I was tossing the weights around like fish at the Pike Place Market.

Even complete strangers noticed.

After one of my sets on the bench press, a guy nodded at me. “What was that,” he asked, “30 reps?”

“35,” I responded. (He later told me he’d just been released from prison, making me question the wisdom of correcting his math — but, damn it, don’t short me reps!)

According to bodybuilder Chris Zaino, rest is a key to making constant progress and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding injuries. Zaino suggests taking a week off after every 2-2 ½ months of steady training.

“After 8-10 weeks of continued training, you should give yourself a whole week off to fully recuperate. Physically, this will help the body heal any minor strains, sprains, tears, and joint pain you may have or are on the road to having,” wrote Zaino on the bodybuilding.com website. “It is not always that easy for a compulsive fitness warrior, such as many of you readers’ out there, to allow yourselves to take the time off. Some people may fear they will ‘de-condition’ if they take a week off.

“Trust me you will not. It takes around 3-4 weeks of total inactivity for your muscles to start atrophying, or breaking down muscle tissue. In fact, I guarantee that you will come back stronger and more refreshed than ever,” Zaino said.

Tanner Baze, a writer at brobible.com (with a website name like that, you know you can trust the guy), was even more adamant. After training two hours a day non-stop for an extended period of time, Baze discussed a beach vacation he took.

He noted that he “drank a ton of beer, ate enough Whataburger to clog up 5 toilets, and didn’t do a damn thing but sit in a lawn chair on the beach.”

“I didn’t do anything that amounted to physical activity other than carry a cooler,” Baze wrote. “I came back into the gym the next week and had pretty much accepted that I’d lost all my gains thanks to that beach trip.

“What I noticed was that I was actually stronger than I was before I left. Not only was I stronger, but my nagging little injuries were nonexistent,” Baze concluded.

Minus the Whataburger issues, I can totally relate to what Baze said. That is exactly what I experienced tonight.

So, the next time I skip going to the gym, I won’t feel guilty. I’ll just tell myself I’m taking a much-needed rest.

Now, if I could only find a legitimate reason to eat pie…

Featured photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash.