I have been playing poker (badly) since I was in high school, but when I saw Rounders in 1998, it was the first time I ever heard the name Eric Seidel.
In the movie Matt Damon and Famke Janssen watch a scene from the 1988 World Series of Poker where Seidel and Johnny Chan go heads up at the final table. An erroneous all-in by Seidel ends the game and gives Johnny Chan the title.
Here is the actual WSOP broadcast.
Everything about this broadcast, from the commentary to the camera shots, makes Seidel look as if he was a lamb led to the slaughter by the wolf, Chan. Janssen’s character even says. “Poor Seidel. Kid doesn’t know what hit him.”
Seidel wasn’t quite a lamb, having been a top-level backgammon player, a Mayfair regular, and even an options trader until the crash of 1987. But he was new to the world of high stakes poker and this was his first major tournament.
I myself laughed at him when I saw that scene, assuming Seidel had gone down in the the annals of poker history as a sorry sidenote.
But that wasn’t the case. Seidel’s loss began a run that has seen him win eight WSOP bracelets and has made him number one in all time tournament winnings with almost $17 million dollars.
It would have been easy after that stunning loss, or the re-broadcasting of it to millions of people when Rounders came out, to just crawl in a hole and die. But Seidel did not let that ONE LOSS define who he was, or what type of game he was capable of playing.
Using his hallmark style of focus, consistency, and an almost transcendent ability to avoid going on tilt, he set himself apart from his competitors. And these characteristics, along with a forward-looking attitude, have brought him to the top of his profession.
Seidel’s example is a lesson not just for poker, but for trading, and for life as well.
(Note: If you are new to my blog, I post about all sorts of things. Sometimes it involves something extremely personal, like creating a 30K baby or my Monster Trades. Other times it deals with hot ex-porn stars who trade stocks. And sometimes it’s about how to avoid “suicide”. But a good place to start is The Best of bclund. If you like what you read, please tell a friend. If you don’t, please tell two friends.)