Going all-in can be hard to get all the way out of

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 3/3/21

I sometimes play poker with buddies of mine. I’m not very good at it, it turns out, which is why I only play it sometimes. But I do know the game enough to know that there may come a time in the …

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Going all-in can be hard to get all the way out of

Posted

I sometimes play poker with buddies of mine. I’m not very good at it, it turns out, which is why I only play it sometimes. But I do know the game enough to know that there may come a time in the game where you have such a good hand — and you deem that your opponents don’t have the means to match you — that you push all your chips into the center of the table, and try to win the game in one, fell swoop. It’s called “going all in.”

The problem with going all in is that sometimes, you underestimate your opponents. That makes your night significantly shorter.

Generally speaking, “all in” is a difficult position to put one’s self into in the real world. Rarely in life do we have situations that allow us to put all of our resources in one place without it having a detrimental effect on other parts of our life. Let me give you some examples.

We all remember the Denver Broncos’ magical 2015 season that led to their third Super Bowl title behind the great Peyton Manning. But, maybe we don’t realize how much it was an “all in” kind of season.

Manning, even diminished, was good enough to hide a lot of weaknesses in the Broncos’ offense, especially the offensive line. Thus, the team never made significant investments in that arena. Also, Manning got hurt halfway through the season, and his backup, Brock Osweiller, played well. But in the final game of the season, the team was losing and playing lackluster, and the coach, Gary Kubiak, benched Osweiller and inserted Manning. The Broncos went on to win that game, and eventually the Super Bowl … but Osweiller never got over it, and left for greener pastures during the offseason.

So then the Broncos were shopping for a replacement at QB after Manning retired, and the found a smart kid with a good arm in Trevor Siemian, who was built like an accountant. Here’s where that lack of investment in the offensive line came back to bite the Broncs, as Siemian couldn’t stay healthy, and a bad job of desperation scouting for a replacement QB produced … dreck. And the Broncos have floundered below mediocre ever since.

Ask yourself: is that one Super Bowl worth the last six seasons of bad football? Now answer that question as if you’re a Detroit Lions fan.

Even when you go “all in” and it works, sometimes you have a price to pay. How many times do we hear of the great, the powerful, and the famous who have children whose lives play out in tragedy on the covers of the tabloids? Even this year, one of the Super Bowl coaches had a bit of a family nightmare play out the week of the big game. Is the coach to blame for his son’s sins? I don’t know — certainly, many not-so-famous people have plenty of tragedy in their lives. But could it possibly have helped that Dad has spent the last 20 years of his life working an 18-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week kind of job?

How about all the rich and famous Hollywood types who, if they’re lucky, end up in drug and alcohol rehab? Or the CEO’s and CFO’s who burn through three marriages and 10 divorce lawyers?

So, is it worth it? To go “all in”?

On a personal level, that’s something only you can answer. If you are passionate about something, have talent and drive, and can envision great success for yourself, then there is no reason not to. But, maybe, there’s a lesson to be learned from baseball great, Derek Jeter. Jeter, while he was shortstop for the New York Yankees, had very strict rules for himself about his social life and, especially, his dating life. It kept him focused on baseball: he could stay “all in” without any additional complications.

You can have your cake and eat it, too. Just, maybe not at the same time.

Michael Alcorn

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