Missed Opportunities Are Not Losses Or Failures, Baby!
Last week in Las Vegas, I did more than just hotel hopping. Late one night or early one morning, depending on how you look at it, I moseyed up to a blackjack table. Since I am a high roller, the table minimum was five dollars. Right off the bat, I busted two hands in a row. With half of my huge chip stack remaining, I decided to double my ante to a whopping $10 and go for broke. I reeled off three wins in a row, effectively doubling my original stack. I walked away on top and felt pretty happy about myself, but I mainly wanted to focus on my last hand.
Ideal Double Down
I was dealt a seven and four, making the hand the ideal situation to double down. Doubling down means you can double your bet on one card by sliding an additional bet equaling your original bet onto the table. However, if things don’t go your way you could end up losing all of it as well. Unfortunately, the dealer showed a 10. Most blackjack systems dictate, you should not double down in this situation. The odds of winning the hand have been greatly reduced. These systems aren’t perfect, but they are designed to help you put your money where the odds are in your favor. Coincidentally, the person to my left, also had 11. We both asked for one more card but did not double down. The dealer ended up busting so we both won our original bet. The first thing out of the person’s mouth was “Damn, I was going to double down”. I momentarily thought the same thing, but I checked myself because I was using 20/20 hindsight.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
With the recent stock market run up, I recently had to fight off the same urges of all my past missed stock opportunities. “If I had only held onto Google, Apple, Chipotle, and Baidu” I lamented. “If I had only bought Netflix when their CEO screwed up.” Why do I constantly beat myself up in this situation when I am doing exactly the same thing as my fellow blackjack player? I dug a little deeper and found a possible answer. Missing out on an additional $10 can be easily ignored. However, the same can’t be said about thousands of dollars. My mind was subconsciously earmarking earlier mortgage payouts, a big chunk of Baby Buck’s college fund, and a smoother, happier retirement. Taking a step back, my reaction should not change just because there are more numbers zeros in play.
When I was younger I would be an emotional wreck after missed double down situations, even the $5 dollar variety. It got exponentially worse when stock picks didn’t go my way. I would beat myself up for missing out on thousands of dollars of paper profits. This hand of blackjack reminded me of three important points. Hindsight is 20/20. Using it to unproductively torture yourself is a waste of time. Missed opportunities should not be counted as losses or failures. It is exactly that, a missed opportunity. I have to be patient and positive that there will be more opportunities in the future. Lastly, staying disciplined even when things don’t go your way will keep you emotions in check and keep you out of trouble, financially and otherwise.
How do you deal with missed opportunities?