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What Gets the Donkey Off His Ass?

I was recently watching a TV news show and they presented a segment on Americans being overweight. They said 70% of Americans are overweight. It’s nice to be in the majority on something important like that, YAY/Ugh. There’s safety in numbers…especially big numbers. The discussion on the show was that someone had done a research study to see what motivated people to lose weight. The researchers offered cash rewards for losing weight and cash penalties for failing to lose weight. These doctors were trying to answer the question, “What is most influential for weight loss, positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement?"

What I find intriguing and amazing about 70% of Americans being overweight, is that being fit, trim and healthy is no longer a motivator for 70% of Americans, including me. Yes, I’m pathetic. I have lost a decent amount of weight over the last couple of years, but I might still be included in the 70%, darn.

I have made at least six weight loss bets for $5,000 to $20,000. Each time, I achieved my goal weight and did not have to pay my weight loss opponents. My opponents also all lost the weight too and did not have to pay me. As a point of reference, I currently weigh 215 pounds and my wife thinks I should be at 200, so I’m close. She also thinks I’m hot, poor girl, eye surgery forthcoming.

In 1985, I had a wealthy person offer to pay me $2,500 (a lot of money for me at the time) if I lost 20 pounds in three months. It wasn’t a bet. I had a chance to win, but didn’t have to pay if I didn’t succeed. Gamblers call that a free roll. Lose the weight, get paid $2,500. I DID NOT LOSE THE WEIGHT! Heavy sigh! (Can you really write “sigh” followed by an exclamation point?) Once again, I’m pathetic, what’s wrong with me? I know, I agree with you, but if you keep ridiculing me while reading this article, I’m going to have to ask you to stop reading.

How can being healthy and making money not motivate me? When it comes to my weight, I’m more motivated by moving away from pain (the payment of big dollars) than moving toward pleasure (the receipt of money, a stud-like body and healthy). This is valuable information for me to know.

Unfortunately because the researchers offered both the penalty and the reward simultaneously, it was difficult to say what motivated the fatties (I’m one too, so relax) (OK, about now I’m betting that you are wondering why I use parenthesis so often.) to lose weight. (No, I don’t use parenthesis to lose weight.) One doctor was claiming it was the positive reinforcement and the other was claiming the exact opposite.

I wish I had done that study. My bet would have been on the heavy people being motivated to lose weight by moving away from pain, i.e. financial loss. It’s obvious that the people who are extremely heavy have migrated toward the pleasure of eating and the taste of food. The pleasure of looking good, feeling good and having good health is too far away to see when the food is in front of you. The pleasure of being healthy does not motivate these people. The loss of cash or life will motivate us. It took a research project to NOT figure this out?

Some people ask me how can you bet so much; what if you don’t lose the weight and have to pay $20,000? The answer is, that won’t happen, because paying $20,000 for most all people is extremely painful, and as we have already determined, I move away from pain.

Want to lose weight? Bet everything you own on losing a reasonable amount of weight in a reasonable amount of time. You will lose the weight, especially if you need to lose only 40–50 pounds.

Poker, get back to poker and business. What does all of this discussion have to do with poker? Well, if you haven’t learned anything yet, what motivates a person is a powerful force and must be determined in order for you to know how to deal with people at the table.

When I play in a poker event with many people I don’t know, I like to get to know them early. Some people might think that I’m just being friendly and a good poker ambassador. I would like to think that is mostly true, but to understand why the person across the table chose to play in this particular World Series of Poker event is extremely valuable.

I say hi to most everyone at the table and strike up a conversation. Here is some of the information that I have picked up along the way by talking to people at the table: (They should each have “quotes” around them, but I’m not going to, because I can.) (More parenthesis…what is the problem with this guy?)

· I’m here with my wife and she thinks I’m blowing our money.

· This is my first WSOP event I have ever played.

· I just want to last to dinner break.

· If a player shoves all-in and gets called by another player on the first hand, I would fold two aces. Yes I heard this. Two aces is the best possible hand and this guy wants to fold? He went on to say that he wouldn’t want to have to call and tell his wife that he busted on the first hand. Further, she wouldn’t understand why he is supposed to call with aces.

· In a $1,000 buy-in tournament, I heard, I lost $30,000 in the pit last night, I just want to get the hell out of Vegas, but I’m here with my buddies and can’t leave.

There are plenty of motivational statements in those five bullet points. Why do people do what they do? Every one of these people behaved consistently with their words. The guy that wanted to make it to the dinner break folded hands that he shouldn’t for fear of losing and not making it to the dinner break. The guy that lost $30,000 the prior night got rid of his chips as fast as he possibly could. As he told us, he didn’t want to be there.

In business negotiations, these types of clues are spread throughout meetings. This is why I like to meet face-to-face so I can understand the motivations of the other party. Be friendly and listen, that’s when people will tell you things. Unless you’re a public speaker, most people earn money by listening.

Writer’s note: I have always wanted to write a writer’s note. I have recently lost 20 pounds without a weight bet. Miracles do happen, thanks Kathy.

If you want to have a weight bet with someone, I suggest both/all parties pick a desired weight target for themselves that is achievable and reasonable to the others and pick a weigh-in date six to nine months out. Whomever achieves the weight by the weigh-in date doesn’t have to pay. Make a bet big enough so that you think about it every time you order/make food. It has to hurt. I always hope everyone loses the weight. I know I will.

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