Ray’s Rules

Pull The Trigger

Recently, I have made two mistakes that have cost me dearly and I want to share with you my pain, in hopes that you can avoid a similar fate. I was in a big poker tournament where first prize was over $500,000!!! I planned a strategy to bluff an opponent during one particular hand. He bet on a flop that had a pair of tens. I raised him with nothing, believing that he had a pair lower than tens and would be worried that I had a ten or a pair higher than tens. He called. The next card came and paired the deuce which put two pair on the board. He checked and I checked. The river was a nothing card. He checked. I planned on going all in, but hesitated thinking that if he did not have a pair I would win with my ace high card and, if he had a pair higher than tens, he would call me and I would be out of the tournament. I gutlessly checked. He had exactly what I thought he had, a pair of eight’s, and he won. He would have folded if I had bet. At this point you may be wondering what any of this has to do with you since most of you do not play poker. Stick with me as the answer will soon become apparent.

The other mistake I made was during a hunting trip. What?!! I know that most of you are thinking that I have finally lost it. How can poker and hunting help you become more successful when most of you do neither?  Stick with me. The biggest deer I have ever seen shows himself exactly where I planned for him to show, except for one minor detail, he was facing me and not broadside to me. I decided to wait until he turned broadside before taking my shot, even though I had the cross hairs on his chest. Instead of him just turning, he spun around and was gone. Now, before any of you anti-hunters get on my case, let me tell you that Hunters For The Hungry donate millions of pounds of protein to homeless shelters across America, 20,000 deer are killed by cars each year, and 75% of the fawn mortality is attributed to coyotes. Because of hunters protecting habitat and keeping the population balanced, the deer population has grown from 300,000 in 1900 to over 30,000,000 today.

Back to our story. What do these two incidents have in common? In both cases, I did not have the confidence I needed at the crucial moment. I have thought about both of these decisions several times since I made them.  Actually, I am lying, I have thought of hardly anything else since. I dream about that deer every night. However, some good must come out of each failure, otherwise they are truly failures. Whenever I make a mistake I try to determine what I could have done to have prevented that mistake to make sure that it does not repeat itself.

In both cases it was a lack of confidence that caused me to hesitate pulling the trigger. How many times have you not pulled the trigger when you should have? Were you ever in a negotiation where you were pretty certain that you were negotiating against yourself and that your offer on the table would be accepted if you stood your ground, but gave in to one more concession because you were afraid of losing the deal? Have you ever been blocked by a gatekeeper from getting to the decision maker and knew that you should go around him but were afraid to “pull the trigger”?

How do you and I gain the confidence needed at those crucial moments? There is only one way. Practice! Practice until it hurts. I always sight my gun in before hunting season begins but do not practice shooting under all conditions. That will never happen again. If I had practiced head on shots over and over again, my confidence would have been high and I would have the trophy of a lifetime instead of a lifetime of regret. If I had practiced more poker hands and played in more small stakes tournaments just for the practice, I may have been $500,000 richer and the owner of a champion’s trophy. I hired Phil Hellmuth, the best tournament poker player in the world for two hours to discuss tournament strategy. He had just won over $1 million at the European championship the week before and told me that he was playing in the next tournament for the practice. He told me that he played on-line many times in the $1 and $2 tournaments just for the practice. I was shocked. If Phil Hellmuth, the winner of more World Series of Poker Bracelets than anyone still needs to practice, then how much more do I have to practice!

Have you practiced enough so that when the time comes you will have the confidence to “pull the trigger”? Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss all the shots you never take.” Ouch! I am a living example of that quote. If you want to hit the mark more often and make more sales, practice more than your competition so that you will have the confidence to pull the trigger when that critical moment arrives.


Till next time

Ray Leone

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Posted in Ray's Rules by Tony Leone on December 12, 2012.

  1. Any post that is able to connect poker and business is going to earn its way onto a list of my favorite posts!

    Thanks for the great post, Ray, I appreciated it. This post was quite timely for me. I’m at a crossroads in my business and toying with the idea of making some changes. I know what I need to do and now I just need to “pull the trigger” to make it happen. That seemed like a big step but you’ve reminded me that a little practice can help build the confidence to make those necessary changes.


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