Poker and Philosophy: Miles Davis

Poker And Philosophy: Miles Davis

by Bodog Poker | Dec 23 2010

This week’s poker and philosophy takes a look at a quote from Miles Davis and expounds upon the idea that there are no mistakes in poker.

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”
— Miles Davis

As a jazz musician, Miles Davis played thousands of concerts and recorded dozens of albums as a leader and as a performer. He was at the forefront of the American Jazz scene for decades and was key in the creation and development of bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz and jazz fusion and helped launch the careers of the biggest names in the genre including John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Red Garland and Jimmy Cobb. He got in front of crowds all over the world and performed and improvised and created entire genres on the spot.

He did not fear mistakes.

He put his career on the line and trusted in a group of other people and his own skills to create something new almost every night for decades.  He took music that he’d recorded and performed a hundred different ways and found new angles and approaches that reinvigorated the material.  He may hit the wrong note on occasion, he may have come in at the wrong time, but he didn’t view these things as mistakes as much as opportunities to learn and perhaps use them as a platform to create another piece of music.

This is how you should approach your poker game.  Every time you lose a hand is a chance to learn and improve your game. When you play as best you can and are bested, you don’t make a mistake, you simply lost chips. In fact, this is a good way to look at almost anything that’s not a true life or death situation or something that involves someone else’s feelings.  (And in poker, we’ve all learned, inserting feelings into the game is a great way to not enjoy the game at all.)

You should not fear mistakes. You should fear stagnation.

Review what happens when you lose.  Take stock of what led you to that point. Reassess what happened and look at how you might play that hand differently against that player to get a better outcome. Every event in a poker game is a chance to learn and some lessons are harder than others. By accepting that everything that happens, both good and bad, can expand your poker horizons, you take your first steps into becoming one of the greats.

The best players learn from their “mistakes.” They grow, they evolve, they become better-educated and thus better at the game.  Do not fear mistakes. There are none.

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