Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chad Brown finds success even when failing (cactus i.v.)

Chad Brown is a failure.

Don't think so?

Look at his win record. Sure, the actor — not the football player — turned poker professional has won millions of dollars playing poker and visits some of the most beautiful (and not so nice) places in the world. But in the end, Brown loses more tournaments than he wins.

And, for him, it's perfect.

"I probably cash about 20 percent of the time," Brown said in a recent interview. "Most pros cash about 10 to 15 percent of the time, which means 85 to 90 percent of the time, they are not cashing. So it means you are failing.

"To them it feels like failing. If you know you're playing well and playing your best, even when you don't cash you can't look at that as a failure. You have to look at it like you succeeded."

The former soap opera and game show star was at the Borgata Spa & Casino last week playing in the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, N.J. However, he spent most of his time talking to fans, promoting his new book Act to Win in Texas Hold 'Em (which will be reviewed in next week's poker column) and visiting with his father who was down from New York.

There wasn't much poker going on, but that happens on the tournament trail. Many times tournament weeks are spent sightseeing rather than playing cards, especially if you are bounced on the first day. The key is learning how to deal with these down times.

There is no worse feeling in the poker world than knowing you have an opponent trapped. You set him up perfectly and he only has a five percent chance to win, a situation you will always choose.

And, then, the suck out. The two-outer hits and you're left taking the lonely walk of shame out of the poker room with the other guy counting your chips.

"If you lose confidence and don't believe in yourself, you don't have a lot of confidence in your ability, whether it's a poker player on the tournament trail or an actor, it's not for you," Brown said. "You have to have thick skin to handle the bad times."

Brown learned this lesson when he was just a teenager playing poker with his father in Italian cafés in New York City. His father taught him about accepting poker for what it is and not letting the game get the better of him.

He would point out good players who, once on tilt, would give away their money.

This advice helped Brown even when becoming an actor. He trained hard and studied with top coaches, but it didn't guarantee him roles.

In fact, much like poker, acting is a career where people are failing more often than not.

"Acting and poker are actually similar," he said. "Both of these jobs set you up to fail. As an actor, if I go on 10 auditions, I am going to get one out of 10, if I am really good."

Brown hasn't won any Oscars for his roles, but he has come close to it in the poker realm. He won Bluff Magazine's 2006 Player of the Year award. Bluff Magazine's award separates the best players because it only considers the tops tournaments in its criteria.

Players earn points based on tournaments where the buy-ins are $5,000 or higher and there are at least 100 entries.

Brown wasn't even focusing on this award to start 2006, but after six months of playing just tournaments where the buy-in was $10,000, he was at top of the list. That's when he began taking it seriously.

"It wasn't until last year's Borgata (Poker Open in Sept.) that I realized I have a good chance," Brown said. "As a former actor, it would be synonymous with winning the Academy Award because to win it you're not lucky, you're actually competing against world-class actors who are your competition and you beat them out. This is something that is with you the rest of your life, no matter what."

So much for failing.

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