Sunday 22 May 2011

Poker and Osteopathy

As an Osteopathic Practitioner and a poker player, I think I am uniquely qualified to write this new blog about the similarities between Poker and Osteopathy.  First of all, I want to say never gamble (poker) with your health (Osteopathy), but it’s ok to talk about gambling and your health.  Now, to imagine my talk with our founder A.T. Still if we were playing a game of Texas Hold ‘Em together.
In Osteopathy, we are taught to treat what we find.  Thus, the uniqueness of each treatment because each patient is different, coming in with similar symptoms and complaints but finding different compensation patterns in their muscles, tissues, joints, posture and patient history.  In poker, we also have to adopt a holistic approach and play with what we find.  To win more often, we need to look at more than the cards in our hands.  Before we decide to hold or to fold, we should look at things like how we’ve been playing, how others have been playing and even the last hand.  For example, if another player has been on a lucky streak, chances are he might get lucky again this hand.  Or if the last hand had a club flush, and you have 2 clubs, chances are of you getting a club flush are not so good.
In poker, there are two types of players: one who likes to play with the best odds of success.  They are fast with numbers and can calculate their odds depending on their cards, the other players’ cards and the dealer’s cards.  Another poker player likes to play by their intuition, betting on how they feel.  In Osteopathy, we are like both players.  Literally, we treat by feel, feeling the tissues and listening to the body.  But we also base our diagnosis on the most likely cause, betting it’s a horse when we hear hoof beats and not a zebra.  That is, based on our applied anatomy, we can calculate the odds between our differential diagnoses and base our treatment on the most likely one.
So, it is not enough to just look at our hand- to only look at the cards we have is like only to look at the neck muscles of a patient complaining of chronic headaches.  Just like it is important to not only play the cards, but to play the players, in Osteopathy it is just as important to look at not just the neck, but also the shoulders, upper back and posture to find the real cause of a chronic headache.  And this is true for hand after hand, patient after patient.  No matter if it is headaches, back pain or other aches and pains, a holistic approach from head to toe is like sitting at the poker table and making a note of each player.  By getting a holistic view of the table, you will get a better idea if your pair of Kings will beat a possible straight on the table.
Thus, if you have any questions or have an old injury that won’t go away, skip the casino and go see your local Osteopath.  To learn more about Osteopathy, go to my clinic website at   As for the big pot between Still and me, we decided to chop it.

Dickson Wong
Osteopathic Practitioner

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