Life is Like a Game. Here’s How You Master ANY Game

I swept the chess pieces to the floor and ran out. The pieces were still popping around on the ground like popcorn when I left the room where the match was being played. It was my school versus some other school. I had lost.

chess

I swept the chess pieces to the floor and ran out. The pieces were still popping around on the ground like popcorn when I left the room where the match was being played. It was my school versus some other school. I had lost.

I didn’t care at all about the rest of my team. Losers.

The coach of the team, an English teacher, ran out after me but he was sort of laughing. “Stop,” he said. “Wait.”

But I didn’t want to. I had lost. I was worthless. I hated myself. I hated everyone. The rest of my team was laughing. I could hear them. Laughing at me. The other team was in shock.

I am a sore loser. It’s not that I’m so competitive with others. But I’m competitive with myself. I like to do better than I did before. Sometimes that means something very bad: I like to be perfect at the things I’m interested in.

Of course, it’s impossible to be perfect.

I had nightmares that night. My dad opened my door at 3 in the morning and asked if I were ok. “No”, and there was nothing he could do.

I didn’t go to school the next day or the next. I was a loser with acne and now a bad chess player.

A year later I was the highest ranking under 20 year old in my state. And then I basically stopped playing except when my life was in big transition in the 90s and then I played quite a bit.

But I played other games, during other transitions. I always played games to escape the bad things that were happening in my life.

The best games are a metaphor for life. So I would always escape my life (a bad relationship, a bad trade, a bad business, feelings of being useless, etc) by playing games.

I played a lot of the game “Go”, when I was burntout and about to get kicked out of graduate school.

I played a lot of poker (365 nights straight, including the night my daughter was born) when I was, well, becoming a father! I played a lot of Scrabble when I went broke. And then Hearts. And then backgammon.

Read More: Click here to get the most out of your investing strategy.

There is a particular grammar to mastering a game and it’s not different from the grammar of mastering anything. Once you learn how to speak one new language, it’s easy to learn how to speak a third language and even easier to learn how to speak a fourth language.

I’ve seen this across every game player I know. Someone who is good at chess can easily master poker. Or, and I’ve told this story before, there’s Falafel.

Around 1994 I started playing Falafel in Washington Sq Park. He was homeless and often had grass in his dirty hair from wherever it was he had been sleeping the night before.

We’d play for 50 cents a game, sometimes a dollar depending on what he could afford to risk losing. He wasn’t as good as me so I’d give some odds. His name was Falafel because that is all he would eat.

Then he disappeared. It was six months before I saw him at the park again. He was smiling.

In just a few months time he had become one of the best backgammon players in the world. He had started playing Wall Street bankers in a price club on the Upper West Side. He build up to a bankroll of $800,000. Then he lost it all. Then he made it all back. A game player can’t be stopped.

20 years later, I think he is now ranked #1 in the world at backgammon when comparing his moves with the moves a computer would make.

Then there was Ylon. He was a chess master (the first time we ever played, I beat him, but then he solidly has turned the table on me) who switched from chess to backgammon to poker. Now, $6mm in poker winnings later, he runs a bar in Brooklyn.

Mastering a game requires you to do the exact opposite of what everyone else does. Since 99.99% of people won’t master a game you need to do the reverse to conquer them.

I don’t know, maybe that above paragraph is the only rule you need to know. But I love games so much I have ten or eleven other rules.

Here’s what I’ve learned from mastering the various games I’ve played:

A) LOOK AT ALL OF THE ‘CANDIDATE MOVES’

This applies to everything: games, business, relationships, everything in life.

I see it happen in reverse too many times. People think of a “what if” and then go way deep down analyzing that “what if” as if there was a 100% chance it would happen rather than an almost 1% chance it would happen.

Like “what if my wife is cheating”. or “what if my idea is bad” or “what if this marketing plan doesn’t work out”.

In the 1950s classic chess book, “Think Like a Grandmaster” Alexander Kotov’s first technique is to: “List all the candidate moves first”.

In other words, list all the options that can happen. Don’t go deeply down ANY OF THEM. Then start to look slightly deeper down each one and see which options you can quickly eliminate.

This saves you mental energy and time. This one technique raises your IQ.

It turns out, some 30 years later, this is how chess computers are programmed. The best chess computers are now solidly better than humans. The first thing a chess program does when looking at position: it lists the candidate moves.

B) DON’T TAKE TOO MANY RISKS

Games are all about taking risks.

But if you take too many risks, you always lose. In Backgammon, if you leave too many “blots” open, you will get hit, sent back to the bar, and eventually get blocked off the board and lose. If you play too conservatively, you’ll also lose.

Trial and error tells you how many risks to take, but err on the side of not taking risks.

This is true for business also. People say to me, “I have a great idea! Should I quit my job and just go for it?”

Answer: NO.

Do both at the same time. I was at my fulltime job for 18 months while pursuing my side business. By the time I left my full time job to be a full time CEO of my side business I had 11 employees.

I took a lot of risks in those 18 months. But I didn’t do anything that would risk losing the game.

C) LOOK FOR THE SHORT CUTS

Every game, and almost every life situation, has short cuts: ways you can get better without learning the entire literature of the game from beginning to end.

A great example is Scrabble. If you want to be the best Scrabble player in the world then it certainly helps to know all the legal words.

But if you want to be a better Scrabble player than 95% of the other Scrabble players it helps to know just two things:

  1. all the two letter words
  2. all the Q words without U: qat qopf qi qanat etc

and if you want to go one step further and be the coolest guy at the table, learn the six letters S A T I N E

Almost every letter you can add to those six will make a legal seven letter world. Example “E”. Etesian. “X” Antisex.

If you are home for Thanksgiving and someone breaks out the board (and has the latest official Scrabble dictionary so “ZA” and “QI” are legal) then you’ll almost certainly win if you just know those two things.

What if your cousins want to play Monopoly instead? Ok, do everything you would normally do but with one difference. Buy, borrow,beg, steal, to get the Orange properties.

Trust me.

D) PLAY PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU

You’re the average of the five people you spend your time with.

When I was playing a lot, many of my friends didn’t want to play me. They didn’t want to lose.

I specifically wanted to play people I would lose to. Over and over again. You learn more from losing than winning. Losing is not failure. Losing gives you a treasure trove of insights into how you, personally, can get better.

When I was first starting out, I would always find people better than me. When I first moved to NY I even moved in with a player much stronger than me at chess.

We’d play all night. I got better until finally I was at least as good as him if not better (we played a match once and when he was two games down he quit the match).

If you’re starting out in business, work first for a good company that has a high profit margin. This is a business run by good businessmen. Learn from them.

If you can’t directly learn from them, read from them. Study what they do. Break it down. Don’t wast time with the people who will bring you down.

E) LUCK FAVORS THE PREPARED

I was in a poker hand with Irv Gotti, the CEO of rap label Murder, Inc. He was laughing and everyone time I’d raise he wouldn’t even hesitate before raising me again.

We were in his offices and there were two tables in a private game. The guy next to me had just produced the move “300”. David Schwimmer was a regular in the game. Another guy had just sold his poker software company for $50 million. And Irv Gotti was the host. There was a lot of money around the table.

I had a great hand, Irv kept raising me. And then on the final card dealt, he got the card he needed and won the hand, and I had no money left at the game so I left.

He just got lucky, I thought. And that card was certainly lucky. But he had been in worse hands that night. He had people intimidated with his non-stop talk.

He would aggressively raise so people would be afraid to play against him because he was too unpredictable. Just those things, let him build up a bankroll where he could take more risks even in situations where the odds were against him.

I don’t know how much money he made that night but I know what I left with: $0. I also found out that he took lessons from very good poker players and at that point, I hadn’t played or studied in yeas.

He was more prepared than me.

Whenever you feel like saying, “I was just unlucky” trust me when I say, “you’re probably an idiot.” Analyze the reality. Don’t just try to make yourself feel better.

Blaming is draining.

In chess there’s a saying, “Only the good players get lucky.” This applies to every area of life.

As Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) said to me, “if you know you’re only going to succeed at 10% of the things you try, make sure you try 100 things.”

F) STUDY THE HISTORY

Every game, every industry, has its history. A history of successful business models, of successful people, of styles in which the game was played. Of colorful personalities.

If you don’t love the history of what want to master, then you will never master it.

Simon Rich, one of the funniest writers I have ever read, the youngest writer of SNL ever, and now working on two movies and a sitcom, said to me, “if you don’t wake up and want to write first thing, you probably shouldn’t be writing.”

In the course of our discussion he must’ve referred to 50 different books and comedians and movies, etc.

It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray relives every day over and over. He becomes a better person for it.

You can’t do that. You can’t relive the same day. But you can relive the thousands of days before you in the area you are most interested in by studying the history of the field you love.

Writers should of course constantly read. You can’t write a good book if you havn’t read 500 other good books. You can’t write a good screenplay if you havn’t watched 100s of movies and appreciate the beauty of specific shows from the 60s, the 70s and the various eras of movies that came after that.

I don’t think I know a single chess master who hasn’t read through Bronstein’s “1953 Zurich International” tournament book at least a dozen times. Or Mikhail Tal’s “Best games”.

Poker players have read Doyle Brunson’s classic a dozen times. And entrepreneurs have all now read Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs and dozens of other biographies of successful businessmen.

The history of a game or life is your virtual mentor if you don’t have a direct mentor.

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G) MASTER YOUR PSYCHOLOGY

I was a very bad sore loser. If I even lost one game in a tournament I would drop out.

As mentioned above, I lost one game and swept the pieces to the floor, creating a scene, and making someone else clean up after my mess. Not to mention making a fool of myself.

“Failure” is the hip new word. People say, “you have to fail to succeed.” This is not true. Failure is the fastest way to becoming a failure.

Instead, view everything as an experiment. Every experiment has problems. As Peter Thiel says, “Get good at solving hard problems”.

When something doesn’t work out, see how you can make it 5% better the next time. There’s always a next time.

If there wasn’t a next time. Warren Buffett would’ve quit investing in 1956. Or 1957. Or 1958. Instead, almost 60 years later, he’s still learning from the things he tries (and he’s made many multi-billion dollar mistakes even in the past decade) and then he tries to make the next situation 5% better so he doesn’t make the same mistakes.

If you love someone or something, you will have many many opportunities to kiss. If one kiss isn’t perfect, then be 5% better in how you treat that person, in how you surprise, in how you learn, in how you study, and the next kiss will be love.

Better to love than to be bitter, than to think you’re unlucky, than to not be prepared, then to not delight the people around you.

H) TEWARI ANALYSIS

This is a trick in a game called, “Go”. Which happens to be the most popular board game in the world but many in the US don’t know about it because it’s popular in Japan, Korea, and China.

No computer can play Go. It’s too difficult. Much more difficult than chess. And when I play through a game played by two professionals it’s almost like they are not playing a game but mutually creating a new work of art that takes my breath away.

I used to take lessons from a guy who had been the Chinese Amateur Champion a year or so earlier.

I would make a move and he would shake his head. He knew one English word. “No.”

Then he would show me why. He would take off the last few moves made and then recreate the position but put the pieces down as if we had made the moves in a different order.

Then a light would shine, “Ahh!” Because if I had made the move I was planning, in the exact same position but as if the moves leading up to that position were in a different order, then it suddenly was clear why my move was bad.

Example: someone wrote to me the other day that they had made $50 million dollars when they were very young. Then very quickly, the person had lost $30 million and was feeling horrible.

Tewari analysis would say: “Well, what if you had simply gone from $0 to $20 million, rather than from $0 to $50 million and then down to $20 million?”

You would be in the exact same situation, but you probably wouldn’t feel horrible.

Our minds give great weight to the perception of motion. The way to get around this is to rewire the mind to show that forward motion was still there, it just doesn’t seem that way because of how you were perceiving it.

Change your perception of motion and you change your potential for happiness.

I) PLAY THE CARDS IN FRONT OF YOU

One time I was playing poker at a club and Norm McDonald, the comedian, came in and started playing. He was a funny guy so there was a lot of chatter at the table.

Norm would play every hand. Normally in poker you’re probably dealt two hands an hour that are worth playing, and chances are you’ll lose at last 50% of those hands.

But Norm played and raised and played and raised. He had a beautiful girl with him and it was no fun for him if he wasn’t in the hand.

So he lost all his money and then got more money out and then lost that and eventually left.

Someone said afterwards, “when Norm comes here it’s like a vacuum cleaner on his wallet.”

Too many people don’t have the right preparation. They haven’t tested their product. They haven’t studied the game they are in. But they play as if they are already on top. It’s not such a bad strategy to “fake it til you make it”. But make sure nobody knows you are doing that.

The short cut in poker: don’t bluff. If you have a good hand, play it. Count on the fact that someone else will bluff and you will make a lot of money.

If you have pieces in chess that aren’t at their full potential (for example, there is a saying, “a knight on the rim is dim”) then “play your cards” by figuring out how to make that knight stronger in the next few moves.

Don’t go for a full out attack on the other person’s king when your pieces are not really in place for it. Too many people do that.

Just play what is in front of you. Improve incrementally and be PATIENT. You will have your chance to win many times. But you will lose ALL of your chances if you waste them.

J) A BAD PLAN IS BETTER THAN NO PLAN

Peter Thiel told me that on our podcast. He was referring to business. Guess what? Peter Thiel is also a very strong chess master and the saying “A bad plan is better than no plan” is a saying in chess.

Having a bad plan gives you several things:

  1. realization that you need a plan
  2. opportunities to see if that plan is not working
  3. ways to analyze when the plan goes awry
  4. a chance to change the plan if it’s not working.

Having no plan gives you none of these opportunities to get better.

K) Maybe most important: THE THREAT IS STRONGER THAN THE EXECUTION

I remember studying a match in, I think, 1984, between the British chess champion, Nigel Short, and the US Champion, Lev Alburt.

The British Champion wiped him out. I’m not going to google it but I think the final score was 9-1.

When I studied the games I noticed that the British champion was constantly “bothering” the US champion. He would make non-stop, but frivolous threats, against Lev Alburt’s queen.

Alburt wasn’t going to lose his queen but he had to waste a move getting his queen safe. Eventually Nigel Short would have the better position because he had gained so much time by threatening non-stop.

Microsoft always announces software years before it’s done. This is called “vaporware” but nobody really knows whether or not there vaporware will become real or not so this often dissuades competitors.

H. Ross Perot used to buy up shares of a big company (for instance, GM) and start shouting how poorly the company was run and that he could do a better job. He wasn’t really going to take over the company but many people thought he was because of his “threats” and they would start buying up shares.

Then he would sell his shares after they had run up significantly (or a company like GM would pay him off in a process called “greenmail”) and he would make a lot of money.

I love games. Any game. And, for me, studying the subtleties of games are like studying a bible. The metaphors to life are so real that I’ve learned to live my life by the above rules.

Recently, Claudia and I have been playing an Argentinian card game called Truco. We can play for hours. Half of the time she is screaming (she will deny this but I have a positive score against her).

I can see there is a lot of strategy in the game. But the game is VERY Argentinian. For instance, if I google strategy for Truco, it doesn’t give me the strategic tips I expect. It just says to joke and talk louder than your opponent so they get distracted.

This strikes me as typical Argentina, a country settled hundreds of years ago by pirates escaping the law rather than by Puritans escaping religious persecution.

Truco is actually a beautiful game and I love it’s subtleties.

But when we are done playing, ultimately I love the person I am playing with.

This is how you master the game of life.

Read More: How To Be The Luckiest Guy On the Planet in 4 Easy Steps. 

  • Anna

    awesome, thank you. I literally took notes in my little life notebook and have now committed to play games–which I previously viewed as a useless waste of time.

    • A good game is never a waste of time. I’d start with checkers or backgammon. But don’t play just to play. Find a book, get some sense of the strategy, play to win!

  • James : I love this. A very long, very eloquent version of something I’ve said forever : I don’t care what the rules are as long as I know what they are

  • john

    I grew up playing monopoly several times a week – literally
    thousands of games. Your comment “Buy, borrow, beg, steal, to get the
    Orange properties” cracked me up – I ALWAYS go for the orange properties and
    would win about 90% of the time. I don’t play monopoly much anymore but
    run a real estate investment firm – go figure!

    • Funny, I bet you get the orange properties in your real estate firm also. Location, location, location!

  • I’m trying to learn Go but its turning into one of those games that I prefer to watch and learn about rather than play

    • Its a beautiful game to watch BUT I think there are deeper subtleties you get after you play for awhile. Like with anything.

  • I finally found a Table Tennis club in the city I’ve been in for a full 11 months. Everyone there is infinitely better than I am (and I don’t think I’m that terrible.)

    I was nervous at first to approach anyone to play but I was excited to learn that they were more than happy to teach.

    And now… I’m on an accelerated track to improving my own game because I’m training with people with 5+ years in experience over me. It really pays to play with people who are infinitely better than you.

    • Table tennis is great: both physical (you will get tired after an hour or so) and strategic (it’s all strategy at a certain point).

  • Chris Yeh

    Brilliant post. And I loved learning the term Tewari Analysis.

  • Stimpy

    Who doesn’t love a game … and who doesn’t hate losing. One of your best.

  • Pablo

    Great post! I’m Argentinean and love playing Truco of course. You should try (if you haven’t already) the 2 vs 2 and even better the 3 vs 3 versions of the game.

  • I always look forward to your posts. I love Scrabble, but I have trouble finding anyone who wants to play me. The two letter words were definitely my go to strategy.

  • Andreas Moser

    Unlike in chess, in real life you are not forced to respond to each of your opponent’s moves.

    • foljs

      You’d be surprised.

  • If life is like a game, there must be cheat codes right? =)

    I wrote a post on this topic a few months ago, if anyone’s interested: http://www.gentukehajdaraj.com/blog/cheat-codes-real-life-game/

  • Damn good post.

    I love the fact that once you consciously CHOOSE what game/arena/business you want to improve at, all you really have to do is study the masters. You put in your reps by getting around those that can kick your ass, and your brain will have no choice but to rewire and improve – unless of course you’re a bad loser and just quit.

    Study the best, put in the reps and check your ego at the door (as much as humanly possible) and you’ll end up being better than 95% of people out there.

    I like that.

    And now, off to write my 1000 words for today. =)

  • Akshay Nanavati

    I just got back from visiting General Patton’s grave and it was great to read this post. J reminded me of his quote – “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

    All of these 11 tips are fantastic. I love the concept of gamifying life and am applying that to my latest project of running across every country in the world. By running with and speaking with runners better than me, using shortcuts to train smart, not just hard (Like using a heart rate monitor and running in zone 2) and preparing for a countless number of hours I have been able to improve rapidly.

    These 11 tips have given me lots to think about and implement for my next few runs. Thanks James!

  • Neeraj R

    excellent article as usual James! love your blog.
    games have taught me that success in the long run is a result of learning the correct principles for success in your field, and then to stick to them with impeccable discipline.. something Warren Buffett emphasizes so much in the game of investing.

  • Jl. Louise

    James–This article was beautiful, and what you said about Claudia at the end was especially beautiful.

  • lia

    Great article. As an Argentine, am ambivalent though: impressed that you know about truco( a truly esoteric game that defines Argentine idiosyncrasy) and humorously disappointed that you didn’t take the time to find out that Argentina was not founded by ruffians and pirates. U may be confused with the Caribbean states! I get the point u were trying to make, but Argentina was the creme de la creme of the Spanish viceroys so your theory is incorrect. Argentina is historically one of the most civilized and cultured states of Latin America where even slavery didn;t make it. Truco is, however, very representative of Argentina simply because it uses ingenuity and guile which is an Argentine trait sine qua non but it came when the Italians from Genoa arrived.

  • I’ve read through several of your posts recently and this is my favorite. So much applicable, meaty value with a distinctly warm, personal touch. Thanks.

  • scott thomas

    Great post James. I wish you would write a post called “How to see all the angles”. I know people who see all of life’s “angles” so they’re able to navigate through life somewhat effortlessly. You strike me as that kind of person. I usually don’t see the angles, which frequently trips me up. (In fact, this post is probably about seeing all the angles, and I’m still not seeing it).

    • Kevin McKissick

      But the fact that you’re able to recognize that you’re not seeing all the angles is the first step towards actually seeing them.

  • Jordan Gaspard

    Very smart, and well put together . I read this blog everyday and it helps me with a lot! Points C,D and F stuck out the most to me. Keep the good writing coming!

  • mohsin

    One of the best posts i have ever read, true life experiences/ lessons shared in this post. Can’t thank you more. Very few few people share (throw away) such valuable advice on internet, these days.
    Thanks once again…..

  • Thanks, James. It’s funny sometimes I feel like life is like a chess game. So I literally just walked out of an investor pitch meeting. It went great… but in preparing for it I realized that everyone loves to give their little feedback, their own input….Which is great but sometimes I feel like they just want to show that they are playing the game, too… Any negative feedback I feel that’s what people are doing, saying “Hey I know this game better than you.” Oh well, let them have it. It’s like you have to just keep playing the game you know. I’ve realized when I think of life in this context, almost like a “game” (in a positive way), it just makes me smile. When you follow daily practices such as the ones James talks about (for me it’s writing, meditation, reading, & exercise) it really feels like you can see and anticipate which moves people are going to make… Almost like you can see the future. You know what people are going to do even before they know what they are going to do. It’s like having super powers! I really do know now what James talks about being Super Man. We all have these super powers!

    • C. Fleming

      Life is a game, and a wonderful one at that. Was surprised to run into a comment on this post from someone I remember from school when we were 14 years old…. The exact memory escapes me, but Id say we most certainly played chess in our free periods. Also remember you from Miami. Hope you are well Nick, from your post I’d say you are playing this game of life thoughtfully and enthusiastically, Kudos.

      • Wow — Yes I remember! And do you remember you found my wallet once :)! Pretty cool how you were able to find and give that back. Good Karma, man! Hope all is well, Fleming. And yes surprised to see you on here, as well. Altucher is the best.

      • By the way, Chris… not playing too much chess these days. I’m sure you are, as from what I remember you were a wiz.

  • Matt Sioson

    Great article. On a related note, I’ve been reading up on the “Art of Game Design” by Jesse Schell and I realize the concepts to develop games are directly portable to running a business. Game design forces you to analyze a problems from many different angles such that you consider: psychology, user experience, mathematics – amongst many other things.

    I guess acquiring new skills is really applying things you’ve known all along, except you realize how to use this known knowledge in a different context.

    Anyway, you’re the man, James. Keep writing – you’re stuff is truly inspirational.

  • Mark

    Bill Gates was beaten by Magnus Carlsen in 9 moves in chess.
    He’s still the richest man in the world.

    • Bill Brock – Chicago

      Bill Gates was also objectively winning that game (seriously!).
      Carlsen bluffed.

  • I
    am not game lover at all – except for scrabble. But I do love the
    concepts that are represented in games. This post grabbed my attention and held it tightly.

    In particular: ” “Failure” is the hip new word. People say, “you have to fail to succeed.” This is not true. Failure is the fastest way to becoming a failure. Instead, view everything as an experiment. Every experiment has problems. As Peter Thiel says, “Get good at solving hard problems”.”

    The thought ties in with the concept of perception being the root of happiness more than anything else. Failure is a harsh word and concept. You can see it’s a effect when you study children who have been told (through grades or teachers or parents) that they have failed. It doesn’t make them try harder but instead compels them to give up. Take that same child and work with them on problem-solving, take away punitive grades, show them error and a path towards solutions and you end up more often than not, with a child who keeps trying – a child who feels pride instead downtrodden.

    In all successful accomplishments throughout history, thousands of mistakes were made before Eureka!! But they weren’t failures. They were instead an attempt that didn’t work. Next.

    I appreciate the stories and message in this article James.

    Best,
    Deborah

  • Love that you mention the greatness of Ross Perot. I worked at EDS, founded by Perot. It was the best damn company I’ve ever worked for. Until it wasn’t. Perot’s best legacy is he led the biggest jail break in history: http://ken-follett.com/bibliography/on_wings_of_eagles/

  • Yogi

    James,
    Did you play online Poker for 365 days? Or F2F? For a complete beginner will you recommend online or F2F Poker?

  • david

    the google is great !
    i would have never met you; i appreciate your views
    i’m taking and keeping them
    God bless

  • Javier Chiappa

    Oh Man. I’m Argentinian, I’ve played truco. I’m pretty sure there is an optimal way to play it. But you need to have all the information on your team-mates cards. And if the enemy also sees your communications then gets all about who has the highest cards.

  • Fede

    Quiero re truco y falta envido che!! Amazing game that reflect the way of doing business in Arg. Epic game!

  • umblondie

    Yeah. What is it about those orange properties? My brother would grow a fit until we traded them to him!

  • umblondie

    Throw not grow. Droid cell is from he…

  • ExiledExDeath

    “In chess there’s a saying, “Only the good players get lucky.” This applies to every area of life.”
    There’s a reason that saying is in chess and not anywhere else, the ONLY luck involved in chess is whether or not you get the color you wanted. It isn’t a game of probabilities or RNG. It’s a game of pure skill. Anybody who says that luck doesn’t exist has never played games with luck based elements, especially RNG. For those of you who do not know, RNG stands for “Random Number Generator.” In a shooter game, if you miss a shot, it’s either because or lag, or more likely YOU missed the shot because your SKILL was insufficient. With RNG, your skill gets negated, because even if your skill is high enough, the COMPUTER says “No, fuck you, your move fails, because reasons.” This means that it is entirely possible for the lesser skilled player to beat the higher skilled player when luck is involved.
    I’ve seen professional poker players make bets on a hand which had less than a 5% chance to pay off, and their lucky stars shined, and they got the exact card that they needed. That’s not skill, that’s luck. 95% chance that their shitty bluff would backfire, yet they crushed because of the luck on that final card after their all in bet. I’m not even talking about somebody who had a pair and bluffed, this person literally had NOTHING and went all in, with a 95% chance that they wouldn’t get the card they needed. Anybody who says that that isn’t luck is intellectually dishonest.
    Now, it’s important to be honest with yourself. If you failed, you should assume that it wasn’t due to luck, but rather you made a mistake somewhere and you should review to try to locate it. It also means that you shouldn’t enter a game relying on luck, rather you should rely on skill and strategy to succeed. Luck does exist in games, so you need to play the odds and try to minimize the effects of bad luck (That is to say, getting bad draws, or getting screwed on RNG). To try to deny the existence of luck in a game means that your strategies are insufficient (Because they’re not taking into account a very real variable), and will probably fail against players who’s strategies due take that variable into account.
    That being said, have read a few of your articles, and am really enjoying the site. But as a competitive gamer (Top 1% of players in Destiny), success isn’t about denying luck, it’s about focusing on what you can control, while still accounting for what you can’t.

  • Luke

    This is probably the most interesting article I’ve read in my life. With few years of business and finacial experience, I can say this makes pretty good “life strategy guide”. Very unconventional and impressive.

  • Chris Kreider

    Amazing article. Quite a few gems in there. Thank you!

  • Michael

    aaa Mr. Altucher, why did you change your blog formatting, or design, or whatever. I have about 3 or 4 articles in your blog which I reread religiously from time to time to keep me focused on all the good things.
    Now with this design change the text got so big that I when I read it’s like a tornado in my mind. I had a bird’s eye view of the whole text with the previous style. It really helps with these “list” style articles.
    Yes it looks “slicker” and nice but it doesn’t improve readability.
    Other than that, thank you, I think you’re going to make a difference in my life someday. I’m not there yet, but someday…

  • Jessica Barnes

    You’re my faves Jamesie! I have read (listened to) Choose Yourself and I own The Power of No. I appreciate you beyond. Hearts and flowers and hugs for you and Claudia.

  • Alexander Dunlop

    Interesting article. Thanks. I stumbled across it. You might be interested to know that life is not ‘like’ a game, Life IS a game. And, it’s spelled out in the mathematical model of the playing cards. Take a look…. http://alexanderhamiltondunlop.com/its-in-the-cards/

    P.S. Did you help found MobileLogic, before it became Vaultus? I was a consultant there.