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The Dragon's Den
Really? How Lucky Was He?
By DeQuan Watson - 3.24.05

Have you ever set across from someone and watch them beat you with what seemed like an unbelievable string of luck?  Have you ever been witness to a player making a ton of what seemed like useless plays only to see him end the game triumphant?  These scenes happen more often than you would think.  But, the player isn't simply getting lucky. There is usually more to this type of situation that you notice at first glance.

Before we go any further, I want to say something.  You simply can't draw a card if you don't put it in the deck.  All things being fair (with the obvious lack of cheating) you are only as "lucky" as you set yourself up to be.  Look at some of the popular definitions of luck:

*fortune: your overall circumstances or condition in life (including everything that happens to you); "whatever my fortune may be"; "deserved a better fate"; "has a happy lot"; "the luck of the Irish"; "a victim of circumstances"; "success that was her portion"

*an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another; "bad luck caused his downfall"; "we ran into each other by pure chance"

*an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that leads to a favorable outcome; "it was my good luck to be there"; "they say luck is a lady"; "it was as if fortune guided his hand"

So, unless you believe in supernatural powers, or even fate, I suppose, there has to be more to it.  And honestly look at those definitions again. Part of that has to do with perception.  Assuming that you feel prepared, it may not seem like luck to you.  While to your opponent, who is misinformed, thinks you have no way out, it may seem like an act of the gods.  But first and foremost, you can't draw the cards if you don't put them into the deck.  So, being prepared is a good thing.

Putting cards into your deck isn't the only way to prepare.  Preparation also comes in a form that your opponent can't directly see.  It's in game preparation.  That information in your head.  Many times, those random bad plays (or what appear to be bad plays) are actually a series was well laid plans.  If you've played a matchup a hundred times previous to that tournament game, you know what to expect.  You know how much time you have to wait.  You know what cards to fear.  And most importantly, you know how to work yourself out of bad situations.  

Then of course we can go back and revisit the idea of perception.  Who is it good or bad for.  If you are prepared and you set up for the play, does it appear to be luck to you?  Often times, the prepared player just lures the opposing player into a situation that slowly develops into a win for the prepared player.  This isn't luck at all.  It just may appear that way.

OK, so now I've rambled on about luck, perception, and preparation.  What does it all mean?  That's completely up to you.  I think it has a lot less to do with the inner meaning of all of this than it does the actually application of all this.

Be aware of your opponent.  Look deeper at that statement.  Look beyond them just sitting there.  Try to figure how prepared they are by the way the react to certain cards or certain plays.  There are things that bother you in the beginning when playtesting various matchups.  But later on, those same things don't bother you.  You might want to create one of those situations to try and get a feel for their level of preparation a bit.  Then you can figure out how to gauge things and how to play your cards.

Also, there are a lot of players that can't stand getting beat by a "lucky" opponent.  If you get this feel from them, then try to "luck" into something a couple of times.  This can be particularly nice in the second game that takes you to game three.  Your opponent will be slightly frustrated and concentrating less going into the deciding game.  

Here comes quick side lesson to end the day on.  The above situation works with some players due to an inner defense mechanism.  We are programmed to defend ourselves obviously.  But these defenses apply to anything that hurts us, be it financially, physically, mentally, or even emotionally.  This leads to two things happening if this emotional reaction isn't kept in check.  You either get overaggressive when a similar situation presents itself or you get overly passive when a similar situation presents itself.

This can be applied to many things.  In many ways, this can be used to explain a person's dating behavior.  It can definitely be used to explain why people go "on tilt" after suffering a bad beat in a poker hand.  

Let me leave you with this.  How many times have you made (or not made) a play based on information you all thought to be true?  Think about how long you thought about this information.  Did you let your emotions get attached to that thought?  The better players can detach themselves emotionally...even if it is for a few seconds.

I've watched so many players get scared of just the potential existence of a spell counter in their opponent's hand.  I've also watch players get overaggressive because they were too passive in a previous game that day.  The problem is, these types of situations shouldn't happen.  They happen because they are applying (likely subconsciously) the events of past situations to their current situation.  The factors aren't always equal.  Things don't always add up the same.

Look at each situation individually.  Look at all factors differently.  Games by nature create very dynamic situations.  That's why we play them.  Just don't take that for granted.

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com
www.thegamecloset.com
 

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