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Happy Thanksgiving and Poker Gratitude in 2019


Sky Matsuhashi

on November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! I discuss the benefits of having an “attitude of gratitude” for poker players and I share some of the things I’m grateful for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving and Poker Gratitude in 2019

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

Gratitude is such an important thing. When you have gratitude for all the things that you're given and you express your gratitude to others, you have a better, more positive outlook and attitude towards life and people notice this.

Here's a great article on gratitude called “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round” by Amy Morin.

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.

When you're nice to people and show appreciation for the things they do, they're more likely to want to be and remain friends.

For poker players, gratitude can help you develop poker friendships which could be very beneficial as you can help each other study strategy, play better poker and stay committed to improving your game.

2. Gratitude improves physical health.

According to a 2012 study, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they’re healthier than non-grateful people. They exercise and take care of their health more than others.

For poker players, the healthier you are the longer you'll be able to sit at the table and play A-game poker.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health.

Being grateful for the things that you're given and the people you surround yourself with effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

For poker players, being in the right mental space and feeling happiness versus depression will help you play A-game poker.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

When your psychological health is better and you experience more happiness, you are going to be more in-tune with those around you and feel less negative emotions.

For poker players, if you can avoid negative emotions like anger or revenge, you will probably tilt less often and stay in A-game mindset more.

5. Grateful people sleep better.

In a 2011 study, they found that writing in a gratitude journal before going to bed helped participants sleep better and longer. You can use my free 21-page Poker Journal for your own gratitude journal.

For poker players, getting good sleep is essential to great mental performance and for general health and physical recovery.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

With increased self-esteem and feeling better about yourself, this helps lead to optimal performance.

This is great for poker players. Feeling better about yourself and about your poker skills will hopefully translate to you pulling the trigger on more +EV plays.  Especially the aggressive chip-committing ones that you might not be that comfortable with just yet.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

Another study in 2006 showed that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude had lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For poker players, it's pretty obvious how mental resilience will help us deal with variance, the inevitable downswings and the bad beats and suck-outs that frequently occur.

“Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.” – Amy Morin

How to Cultivate Gratitude

The first thing is to be aware of and believe in the benefits of gratitude as listed above. You'll be more prone to expressing gratitude when you believe in it.

If you want to develop an “attitude of gratitude”, share that gratitude with others. Give them a thanks and a smile when they hold the door open for you. I know you love it when your husband or wife lays down a killer taco dinner in front of you complete with Mexican rice and refried beans and a little lime slice on the side.  You've gotta say, “Thank you, this looks wonderful. You're the best, honey bunny.”

Like mentioned in the article, keep a gratitude journal. I used to do this, and I'm going to resume the practice tonight.  It's just a little notebook on the nightstand where I write down 2 things I'm grateful for from earlier in the day.  I found it to be a very enjoyable and quick and easy exercise every night. I'm gonna resume that starting tonight.

Choose to be around others who display gratitude. I'm sure you know 1 or 2 people who are never all that thankful and who are not particularly nice to other people.  But, because they’re family or maybe in your circle of friends, you are “forced” to interact with them. Well, STOP IT. Instead of them, choose to interact with those who are kinder and gentler and show more gratitude.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

What I’m grateful for in 2019

My Family

I am always grateful for my wife and my two sons.  They are the “light of my life”, and because they mean so much to me, I strive to be a better husband and a better father for my 2 boys. My wife has a full-time job and she’s a great mom to our boys, and I’m thankful for that.  My boys are fun to hang out with and they always have fun and happy attitudes, and I’m grateful for that.

The grandparents are a big part of our lives as well.  I’m grateful that they’re always willing to babysit or help out with anything we need, plus they’re enjoyable to hang out with and we have monthly family dinners which we all love.

My Students

I'm grateful to all of my students for their support.  I couldn't be a poker coach without them. They are helping me and I'm helping them at the same time. And when I say students, I am referring to my one-on-one students as well as the listening audience, people who watch my training videos, and people who buy my books or webinars. The way I look at it, you're connected to me in order to learn to be a better poker player.  And, I'm the one giving out my study and play strategy advice, so that makes me one of your poker coaches and you're one of my students.  Thank you so much for being a student of mine.

Poker Forge Members

I'm extremely grateful for all of my Poker Forge members. This was a new initiative I started just a few months ago and it's proving to be incredibly valuable for the members as well as myself. I'm really enjoying this new avenue for Smart Poker Study.  The Forge wouldn't be possible without the founding members who began this adventure with me and for the new members who have joined over the past few months. Thank you so much for your support and I pledge to continue giving you the best poker coaching possible.

Fish and Maniacs

And I can't forget about the Fish and of the Maniacs. Now, I know these types of players are the causes of a lot of anger and tilt at the tables. But they are also the ones that make poker profitable. So I am truly thankful that Fish and Maniacs exist at my tables. Every time one of these players sucks out and wins a pot from me, I try to express my gratitude that they are in this game with me. Sure, they won this pot right now and that's a bummer.  But, eventually their style of play and constant mistakes will cause those chips to come right back to me, and then some. So, I'm always grateful when I play with Fish and Maniacs.

Poker Cardroom Peeps

Lastly, I'm grateful for all of the people in brick-and-mortar card rooms that make the game of poker a career. I’m talking specifically about dealers, floor people and cardroom managers. These are the people that are on the front lines helping to make poker enjoyable for the players that walk through their doors.

  • When the dealer is helpful to new players or breaks-up arguments or settles disputes, they are helping to make poker more enjoyable for those at the table.
  • Cardroom managers visiting a table to explain the rules or enforce things strictly but fairly helps to promote a safe place to play.
  • When the servers have a smile on their face and take your order and bring it back with another smile, they make it an enjoyable place as well.

So, even though I don't play in card rooms all that often, I recognize the benefit that these people have for the overall health and wellness of the world's poker community, so thank you very much.

Work to develop an attitude of gratitude.  Sure, being grateful for all the great things in your life helps you out a ton on and off the tables, but it also benefits those around you.

Share your gratitude with others, start a gratitude journal and surround yourself with kind, caring and grateful people.

Now, I challenge you to take action!


Sky Matsuhashi

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