Care about money, not about chips

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That headline is funny, right? It’s basically exactly what the casinos wanted when they first started using chips in the 17th century. They want you to forget the little green clay thing represents two meals at Chipotle, so you’re more likely to lose your money to them. Why am I advocating you do exactly what these big rich casinos want you to do?

YOU’RE NOT GAMBLING AGAINST THE HOUSE: In this game, once you’ve turned pro, you know you’re a winner at poker. You do know this, right?

You have thousands of hours of winning play to prove it on a spreadsheet somewhere, right?

Since you’re winning at the game that these chips are being used in, you don’t need to respect them. You have the edge against everyone else.

YOU CAN’T PLAY OPTIMAL POKER IF YOU’RE AFRAID TO LOSE: It’s just that simple. There’s a good reason why some of the best players are known for being broke; their ability to play the game perfectly has ruined their ability to decide which place to go for dinner or how much to bet on a craps roll.

However, you don’t want to sit in a game with any of these broke pros. They will eat you alive.

You need to have the mind-set of a broke poker player while you’re in the game and find a way to shut that off the second you get up.

FOLLOW YOUR RULES: As a pro, you have a certain set of rules you need to follow. Everyone is different. If I lose around 300 big blinds in a game, it’s time for me to quit.

If I’ve run that badly, I won’t know the difference between playing even worse. Continuing to run bad means there’s a good chance my mental state has degraded and I haven’t noticed. I set this rule before I ever touch a chip and while I’m in the heat of battle I don’t break it.

MANAGE YOUR MONEY LIKE AN ACCOUNTANT OUTSIDE THE GAME: Track absolutely everything. Do a personal budget, use apps, spreadsheets, coupons, etc. It’s important to separate your bankroll from the money you use for your life.

One way I usually do this is by never cashing out at a local casino that I go to regularly. I can’t spend poker chips at the strip club (well, maybe in Vegas) or the fanciest sushi place in all the land.

Learn this concept and you’ll be one of the few dangerous pros who also isn’t broke.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at Brent.Philbin@gmail.com.