Poker is a game of skill that paints a picture of what makes us uniquely American. It melds together all that is best of the risk-averse Puritan work ethic and the entrepreneur's urge to seize the opportunity. While the two ways of operating don't necessarily compliment one another they blend in such a way that they have made us who we are as a country. The card game still combines Puritan values of self-control, diligence, the slow accumulation of savings with a mind-set of those who risked it all in the gold rush or even today's lottery ticket enthusiasts. A keen foreign observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in Democracy in America: "Those living in the instability of a democracy have the constant image of chance before them, and, in the end, they come to like all those projects in which chance plays a part." This was true, he deduced, "not only because of the promise of profit but because they like the emotions evoked."
American history is replete with both sides of the card when it comes to the poker personality. General Robert E. Lee, confronting overwhelming supremacy in men, munitions, and technology, was able to keep the Confederacy’s cause alive as long as he did because he picked his battles carefully. He did not engage the Union Army at every opportunity; he selected opportunities where he believed he could negate the Union’s inherent advantages and overcome them. In fact, during the early stages of the war, Union General McClellan was unwilling to commit his troops, even when the odds were strongly in his favor. Like a player who is overly weak and overly tight, General Lee constantly ran him off the best hand. McClellan ultimately suffered the military equivalent of really bad beat ¾ he was sacked by President Lincoln, who, knowing his man held most of the big cards, wondered why he wouldn’t play a hand and therefore couldn’t win!
Ted Nugent penned this of Gov. Palin, "Her rugged individualism, self-reliance and a herculean work ethic resonate now more than ever in a country spinning away from these basics that made the U.S.A. the last best place. We who are driven to be assets to our families, communities and our beloved country connect with the principles that Sarah Palin embodies" And while she is the picture of hardworking America, she is also very much the Maverick. She does things her way, taking what some consider chances in a political party used to playing by a set of acceptable rules. She became known in Alaska as a popular maverick, staunchly conservative on key issues but vocal about problems she saw, including those in her own party. Widely seen as a political outsider who stayed at arm's length from her party establishment, she defeated two political insiders in 2006 to become the youngest, and first female, governor in the Alaska's history.
Palin is making history again, as an unconventional candidate for the GOP nomination. She has yet to declare, but pundits and media alike are trying to force her hand as to when she will announce. On Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch on Fox Business Thursday evening, she had this to say of showing her hand: "You know, I hold my political cards close to my chest, I've certainly learned lessons along those lines and I'm going to continue to do that until I'm ready to make an announcement." Her strategy is very much that of the consummate professional poker player in several ways.
Governor Palin knows to be selective, but also to be aggressive. She knows you do have to pick your battles, and carefully choose when to retreat, (fold ‘em) and when to draw your proverbial line in the sand (hold ‘em). And yes, more than once the song "The Gambler" sung by Kenny Rogers has entered my stream of consciousness since Gov. Palin mentioned she was playing it close to the vest. Read any of her latest Facebook notes and you will soon discover she is very selective when it comes to discussing matters, yet unashamedly bold and engaged when it comes to point out problems and presenting solutions to get America back on course.
She is also practicing the art of knowing her opponents well. If you can pick up tells in a poker game -- where players take great pains not to broadcast them -- think how easy it ought to be to read people away from the table. Understanding the different players that you're up against is the key to success in poker. By knowing your opponents you will call less often when you don't have the best hand and be able to raise and get extra bets out of your opponents when you otherwise would not be able to if the opponent was unknown.
Like every poker player worth their salt knows,you have to have a plan. If you have no standards at the, and adopt an any-two-cards-can-win philosophy, you’ll soon go broke. Knowing in advance which cards you’re going to play, what position you’ll play them from, and how you’ll handle different opponents, are key factors to success at the poker table. It’s no different in the real world. If you don’t plan, you’re just a leaf in the wind. While traveling in a random direction does get you somewhere, it’s probably not where you hoped to go. In the real world, if you don’t have your own agenda, you’ll soon be part of someone else's. Look to Gov. Palin's five point plan for restoring America that she spoke of in Iowa over Labor Day weekend.
While its important to have a plan, know your opponents, and be selectively aggressive, its crucial to exercise restraint. If you want to win in poker and also more so in the game of life, or in this case in restoring America you have got to have this ace in your hand. Governor Palin knows what it really takes to win in life. And what it takes, more often than some people think, is not a whole lot of bluster and confidence. She realizes something vital. If you are not capable of carefully evaluating your own position, your own strengths and weaknesses, than you will play like a fool and be recognized as such by all your opponents. If you tend to "go for it" because you believe you’re invincible, your game is as good as over, before it even begins. While all of us may be wanting her to show us her hand, Gov. Palin is holding back, evaluating her own position. "You have to know when to hold them... Know when to walk away and know when to run." Sarah knows all of these things and when she is ready, she will reveal her winning hand.