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Seniors’ Scene - Aphorisms for Poker

By George “The Engineer” Epstein

An aphorism is a concise and usually witty or humorous statement of wisdom or opinion, such as “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”  (from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night's Dream”). In his “Essay on Criticism,” Alexander Pope wrote:  “To err is human, to forgive divine.”  Perhaps the most familiar aphorisms are: “Children should be seen and not heard,” and “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”  I am sure you have heard/read some of these.

Let’s have some innocent fun (it can’t get you in trouble), and see if we can identify or devise some aphorisms related to our favorite game of poker.  I‘ll start with several such witty words of wisdom that would seem to be applicable.  Then, I invite you to come up with your own aphorisms for poker, and submit them to me (Email to  The best one will win a valuable prize:  a signed copy of my book describing the Hold’em Algorithm and including other special poker concepts to help you better make the decision whether to “Hold’em or Fold’em?”  (And, we may publish your contribution in the online Poker Player Newspaper.)

Poker Aphorism #1

“It’s more fun to win.”  

Comments:  Who doesn’t play to win?  The smart player uses his skills to make a wise investment;  the loser gambles – and hopes.  Usually we play for something of real value; most often it’s money.  (When I was a preteen, we played for baseball picture cards.  That goes back a lot of years.) 

Whether you are a pro or a recreational player, whatever the stakes, the goal is to win.   I am sure you all agree:  “The more I win, the more fun it is!”  (That was my late wife’s favorite saying.)  Losing brings an angry scowl to your face;  winning begets a big smile.  The more you win, the bigger that smile!

Poker Aphorism #2

“Win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts.”  

This one applies to many situations in life, and it’s been used before – possibly while playing poker.

Indeed, a poker expert might say this to you as he reaps another big pot.  Presumably, that may soothe your loss.  But how many poker players really believe this?  Wouldn’t you much rather go home a winner – even if you won that big pot by getting lucky and catching a two-outer on the river.  It’s always nice when the bad beat is in your favor.  Maybe the player you just beat out can use this aphorism to soothe his hurt feelings. . .

Poker Aphorism #3

“Learn from your mistakes.”

Who among us never makes a mistake?  We all do.  No one is perfect.  But, it’s the successful (winning) poker player who actually learns from his(her) mistakes.  Easier said than done!  (Hey, isn’t that another common aphorism?)  Learning from your mistakes implies that you are smart enough to detect a mistake, and then figure out how best to avoid it in the future.  Many losers prefer to blame it on bad luck.  Think about it.  Ask yourself: “Did I make a mistake?”  If that is likely to be the case, sit out the next few hands, or go for a short walk in the fresh air – and think about it:  “What was my mistake?  How can I avoid it?”  The time thus spent may well be worth it in the long run. 

Of course, that’s not easy to do in the middle of a tournament – another reason why I prefer to play cash games.


George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!;  Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision;  and The Art of Bluffing.  He has taught poker at the Claude Pepper Senior Center, at West L.A. College, and to elderly war veterans at the CalVet facility in the VA/West L.A.  George created and organized the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group.  He was awarded the Senior Citizen Volunteer-of-the-Year Award, in large part for his activities on behalf of senior citizens, and has been elected to the Seniors’ Poker Hall of Fame.


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