Don’t Just Float Along, Anchor Your Poker Game

Physical anchors can help a person perform better at the poker table, on the golf course, in business, and in everyday life. If you did an Internet search for physical anchoring, your head might spin out of control trying to make sense of it. When I use the term, I simply mean our ability to recreate success by repeatedly preceding it with specific, physical actions of our own choosing.

A perfect model of someone using a subtle physical anchor is Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, the 2000 World Poker Champion. Let me stress ’subtle’ as compared to Candace Parker’s three bounces, arm touch, bounce, and shoot that I wrote about in my August 29, 2009 blog, Woman Basketball Star teaches Poker Life Lesson.

When the action comes to Ferguson in a poker tournament, he becomes a statue. He looks at his cards and takes at least four full seconds before he moves a muscle. That may not sound like a lot of time, but in the world of poker action, four seconds can seem like a lifetime.

Some might also say that Chris’ stillness is just to avoid giving away any ‘tells’ or hints about the cards he is holding. Certainly, that is part of its effect. Since I see Chris repeatedly lasting longer in poker tournaments than many of his peers, I believe this is a physical anchor. Effectively, it helps him to access his decision-making intuition. Side note: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is an honest to goodness genius with a PhD in computer science and has a strong knowledge of game theory.

The first time I remember actively using physical anchoring was in the ninth grade. Even though it was inadvertent, it was highly successful. It came about because I could not keep my eyes open in Coach Riggs’ science class. I know what you’re thinking… a football coach doing double duty teaching science is a surefire sleep aide. However, he was a great teacher, and I’ve been grateful to him more than once for teaching me how the internal combustion engine works.

Despite being eager for his class to start each day, my eyes would literally cross about half way through the session. It was a fight to keep them open. Concerned, Mom took me for an eye exam. The doc said I had prefect vision but had a lazy eye, correctable over time with a certain type of glasses. Looking back at some of my early school pictures, one of my eyes obviously pulled to one side.

When I was openly resistant to wearing the glasses, the doctor told me that when I wore them, I would remember everything the teacher said. No, I did not buy into what he said, on the other hand, what could it hurt?

Faithfully, after I sat down in every class, I consciously put on my glasses. In a very short time to everyone’s surprise, my grades went from C’s to A’s.

Was it a result of solving a vision problem, the power of suggestion, paying more attention in class, or had the glasses become a physical anchor? Even though I suspect it was some of each, I believe the conscious repetitive action of putting on the glasses became a physical anchor

The steps to creating and using physical anchors are simple.

1.  Identify your objective. Keep it simple, just one thing at a time.

2.  Set your intention.

3.  Pick a series of physical actions.

4.  Raise your consciousness so you are actively aware of what you are doing.

5.  Take the same action immediately preceding your objective.

6.  Repeat consistently.

What action would you like to anchor so you can successfully repeat it at will? Do you want to remain calm and focused at the poker table? Do you want to have a better golf swing? Do you want to make better decisions at work?

Try the steps. What do you have to lose? On the other hand, you could just get another pair of glasses. By the way, in an upcoming blog, I’ll deal with some actual eyeglasses specifically made for the poker table.



4 thoughts on “Don’t Just Float Along, Anchor Your Poker Game”

  1. Really like your blog. It makes good sense to me, but better than that, finally, something to give to my wife that might get her interested in poker. If she likes the game, then, maybe, just maybe, I can play more!

  2. Thanks, Henry! I hope this blog opens up some new adventures for you and your wife. When I first started playing poker in 1996, the other men at my husband’s table would say to him, “You’re so lucky that your wife likes to play.” That was actually one of the reasons I wrote my first poker column in 1998.

  3. Oh what fun! I am just totally enjoying your blog. Your writing is a real pleasure to read – feel like I know you already.

    I like the idea of the anchor – I knew about it but never thought to use it in my business. I’m going to try it with my writing. I suspect it will help pretty quickly.

    Thanks for the idea – and thanks for your blog. Keep it up!


  4. For years, I used anchors without realizing it. Now I consciously use them on a daily basis. They really work!

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