Editors' Pick: Originally published Feb. 29.
Republicans are scrambling to find a way to defeat Donald Trump. Here's one idea: Think of him as the toughest poker player you've ever faced.
"Trump is the ultimate 'loose-aggressive' player," said poker champion Phil Hellmuth in a recent phone interview. Hellmuth has won 14 World Series of Poker events -- the most ever.
Many years ago, during the heyday of online poker in the U.S., for a very brief (and parentally disappointing) period, I made my living playing poker, mostly online and without much success. I often encountered this type of player, known to students of the game as "LAG."
The LAG will play many hands, some with good cards, but much more often with mediocre or even bad cards, betting and raising the stakes each time. The strategy is to make other players fear you so much that they are cautious about playing against you and will often fold, even when they are likely to have a better hand, ceding small amounts of chips in the hopes of saving up for a big confrontation. The LAG wins many small skirmishes this way, amassing chips and becoming more powerful. The loose-aggressive player wants to control the table, own the table and run the table. Sound familiar?
Trump seems willing to take up any position that might give him an advantage (play any two cards), move forward rather than backward on any issues (he never apologizes -- always raising the stakes, never folding), and when he is attacked, he hits back, even when the attacker is the Pope. People often think of Trump as a bully, but it's not as accurate an analogy, because for the playground bully, being cruel is the point. There is no larger game. With the LAG -- and with Trump -- the bullying behavior is a strategy with the goal of winning all the chips. It's bullying with a plan.