Play to your strength

You always hear that you should play to your strength. It’s one of those things that we all acknowledge but far too often don’t put into practice. I learned a lesson last week at the Fish and Chips tournament that really proved the truth of that old adage.

I have no poker face. I just can’t do it. It isn’t in me to hide my emotions. I can play cards well enough — mom was a card player so I learned about card games at an early age — but poker isn’t my thing. I can’t deceive anyone about anything, regardless of how hard I try. I decided to work that to my advantage.

Every time I had a good hand I’d smile and tell the guys to bring it on. Those who didn’t already know learned quickly that I wasn’t bluffing. With the luck of the draw, I won a little bit of money and started to advance my position.

I followed that strategy all the way through, even when I had a bad hand and was bluffing. Every so often I’d smile and get real aggressive no matter my cards. It worked for awhile. Over time, the better players figured me out but not before I’d had a great series of games.  

It was the first time in a longtime I’d had a solid poker performance and it got me to thinking — we should all play to our strengths in everything we do.

I’ve done it unconsciously in my business life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always played to my work ethic and enthusiasm rather than my skills in business. It was the natural thing to do. I’ve always said that I can do the job, make a mistake and fix it before most people ever get started.

Fishing, if you stop and think about it for a minute, is no different. It’s a skill sport. There’s no doubt about that. Winning is not a random, statistical event.  If it was, we’d all have about the same number of wins, and the same guys wouldn’t routinely finish at the top of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

At some point, you have to catch a break or two; if you don’t, you’re going to be dead meat at the scales. That’s true in just about everything, I suppose. My thinking is that if you play to your strength, you can take advantage of the breaks that come your way and more easily overcome the difficulties that you’ll inevitably encounter along the way.

Maybe everyone reading this already knows it. If so, all I can say is that I was a little behind the eight ball, at least consciously. I’m going to try to think about it more in the next year as I fish the Elites and two complete sets of Opens. Maybe that’ll help me earn a win or two.

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