According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for American workers was slightly under $45,000 last year.
This week, UK poker player Jake Cody did something unfathomable to the average American worker. He let more than that ride on a single Roulette spin.
The story, which has quickly turned Cody into a worldwide media darling and hero in the poker community, started with the PokerStars sponsored pro chopping the £2,200 high roller at the partypoker UK Poker Championships four-handed. Cody earned the title and £42,670 as a part of the four-way deal. It’s an amount equal to just under $60,000.
He promptly walked over to the Roulette table inside the Dusk Till Dawn Casino in Nottingham, UK where the tournament was held and bet it all on black.
A massive crowd quickly gathered to watch. Casino owner Rob Yong played the role of croupier and spun the wheel. With Cody looking skyward for some kind of divine intervention, his prayers were answered. The ball landed on black 22.
Cody doubled his £42,670 bet, walking away with £85,340. The crowd erupted and Cody seemed genuinely overjoyed.
Videos of the scene quickly went viral. The story spread everywhere from the Irish Examiner to USA Today and readers of both must have been thinking they’d just been introduced to a completely irresponsible young man who’s never worked a day in his life. One who hasn’t yet learned the value of the dollar. Or at the very least, a degenerate gambler who will eventually end up broke when his luck runs out.
A poker player, and a great one at that
However, the poker players among those readers know better. To them, Cody’s willingness to gamble and his disregard for the amount of money involved proves only that he’s one of them, a poker player, and a great one at that.
This is based on the long-held belief that achieving greatness in poker requires zero respect for money. Or at the very least, detachment from its value.
The theory is the best players don’t worry about all the other things they should be doing with the money they used to buy into a tournament. They don’t think of all the things they could be doing with the money they’ll earn by winning it. That kind of thinking makes it impossible to make the best in-game decisions.
The best poker players in the world never pay attention to the payouts. The chips are just a way to keep score and their monetary value is never taken into consideration. They play the game first and do the accounting later.
Kenny Rogers was right. They don’t just know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. They never count their money when they’re sitting at the table.
The thing is, this doesn’t mean someone who makes $45,000 a year and can’t even wrap their mind around betting a year’s salary on table games at a casino will never be any good at poker.
A real lesson in responsible gambling
Inside of the whole idea that the great players have no respect for money actually lies a real lesson in responsible gambling. One that everyone should learn and strangely proves that anyone can learn to play the right way.
The thing is, most people have an amount of money they could lose playing cards that wouldn’t have a significant impact on their life. Whether that’s $60 or $600, as long as you never put a dime more on the table, it’s easy enough to get to a place where that money isn’t a significant factor in your decision making.
Set a limit of how much to play with, stick to it, and you can get to that place where great poker players live. The place where the money doesn’t matter and your mind is free to make the best decisions possible. The trick is, it’s not about having a complete disregard for money. It’s about having complete disregard for the amount of money you’re playing with.
You do this by playing within your means. Or never risking more than you can afford to lose. Both long-held tenets of responsible gambling. Looking at it this way, it’s also one of the keys to playing great poker.
Add it up and it means the average American won’t be winning six figures at a Roulette table anytime soon. But it also means they won’t be losing a year’s wages if it comes Red 23 next time either.