We've all seen it before. A player is way behind, dead in a turn or two unless they draw the perfect card. They're playing recklessly, attacking when they can't win the race. Or maybe they're holding a counterspell and just let their opponent's third creature resolve in the hopes that they draw a sweeper in the next few turns. An old friend of mine, Pat Fehling, was famous in our play circle for doing this. We'd marvel at how terrible he was and how he always managed to draw the perfect card.
"So, I was watching Pat's quarterfinal match and he just spent the last two turns chump blocking instead of trading, and then obviously he topdecks Insurrection on the last turn to win the game."
"I mean it's Pat, so yeah of course he's going to draw his one outer."
"I can't believe how lucky he is. Obviously, he then goes on to win the PTQ."
We spent years giving Pat grief about how lucky he was and how eventually he would stop running so far above expectation. I think he enjoyed every minute of it, because he intuitively knew a few things that we couldn't grasp at the time:
- Many of those games would have been unwinnable had he taken a more conservative line.
- The reason he so frequently drew the "perfect" card was because he deliberately put himself in spots where some of his draws would be extremely high impact. What looked like reckless play was in fact correct since it effectively created more outs for him to draw.
A huge leap forward for my personal improvement was the realization that you can't win every game. Individual games of Magic have a degree of luck, and sometimes, you need to be willing to take chances to give yourself the best long run result. Take the following example: