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“Live with an open loving heart, be light (ever heard the saying ‘Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly’?) and have a sense of humor! Also share the light of your own self with others …”

–Susan Stanton Rotman,

philosopher on living life



Poker is a microcosm of life! So I sought to relate the game of poker to these words offered by the eminent life philosopher, Susan Stanton Rotman…

Contemplating my 85th birthday, I realize that life is precious. Use the time to contribute to society, to make life more enjoyable for your family, friends, others and yourself!

“Live with an open loving heart.”

Poker is a social vehicle, offering opportunity to interact with others. As you seek to outplay them, even to deceive them while slow-playing, check-raising and bluffing, to gain their chips, have empathy for their loss – it’s only money. Hope that they can well afford the loss. . . Sincerely.

“Be light,” she advises.

I’m not ready to fly with the angels as she suggests – not yet. But I realize that life is too short to take yourself too seriously. Here’s an appropriate quote:

“God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”


– Attributed to Friedrich Oetinger (1702–1782), and to Reinhold Niebuhr, “The Serenity Prayer” (1934)

By all means, try to make positive changes and innovations, but don’t fret if it’s not possible. Accept that you cannot achieve the remarkable accomplishments of leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Do the best you can. Have a clear conscience. Otherwise, accept what life has to offer, whatever you have been fortunate to gain during your life.

High on my list is the ability to play the game of poker – a game that helps us to have a healthy mind and a healthier body. It’s a game that is outstanding recreation for all, especially senior citizens.

“Have a sense of humor,” says Rotman. Why?

“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs.

It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

Henry Ward Beecher



Play the game of poker with a sense of humor. Smile and laugh more. Enjoy the game. Don’t throw your cards at the dealer when you are rivered. Your set of aces loses to a straight. Don’t be rude to other players at your table, even if they make mistakes that cause you to lose a hand or knock you out of the tournament when on the bubble.

Tomorrow will be another day. There will be another poker game, another tournament.

There are substantial benefits in smiling and laughing: Laughter relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, makes you feel better, and even protects your heart. Smiling and laughing contribute to your mental health. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.

Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. In poker, we always want to be alert. Enjoy the game. Smile!

Lastly, Rotman advises us to “share the light” of ourselves with others. For me, that’s teaching other seniors to enjoy the game of poker – to gain the mental health and other benefits playing the game can provide.

Just as teenagers enjoy playing baseball, we who play poker enjoy the challenge, gaining much satisfaction from playing well – even getting lucky. How about sharing a smile, a pleasant word?

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at [email protected]


About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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