There’s something very alluring about the idea of luck-ing your way through life. We look at people who are rich and famous with wide eyes wondering how they got there. These people just have everything, they keep getting more for doing less and less while you’re digging ditches (hopefully not to hide a body) and busting your ass so you can afford coffee the next day. You buy lottery tickets, you pray, you wish on candles, you tear feet off of rabbits (don’t do that). When is going to be your big break? If you stay the same course and never do anything else?

Likely never.

I’m going to be quite straight-forward about this and it might upset you, but luck doesn’t work that way. Those people you see on TV? Most of their luck was earned some way or another. I know, I know, it’s crazy. What’s a Kim Kardashian, anyway? Sometimes it’s very obvious hard work and persistence being put into a company they’re building from the ground up. They sacrifice hours, weeks, years to make their dream a reality. That or they’ve experienced enough of life to come up with a killer idea that takes flight because it solves a great need. Some people become famous due to establishing connections through their life by helping others, taking on tough gigs or being consistently reliable. Some break the mold with some form of creativity and try something new, which captures the imaginations of many including someone who has the potential to change your life with their influence.

Who knows, maybe if you’re lucky someone will release your sex tape and you’ll make millions! That’s a joke, but while we’re at it, what about the people who do get rich other ways? People who inherited money? Are famous for a sex tape? Drug lords?

Those things aren’t a matter of traditional luck either. Sure, inheriting money doesn’t take skill but keeping it does. They essentially are getting a head start, but that does not guarantee success. Those who inherit money or fame don’t always use it to their advantage throughout life. They can waste it on frivolous things or refuse to mingle with the same crowd their parents did or not have the same business acumen or talent. They may not have been taught how to use those assets because things have always been handed to them.

As for those sex tape folk…why would anyone care about a sex tape if you weren’t connected to someone important in the first place? Even so, most of the time that goes really really badly for celebrity types. It takes a real special skill, not a stroke (zing!) of luck, to turn that around to their advantage.

Being a drug lord? That probably takes the most work! Are you nuts?! There’s nothing lucky about that profession other than not getting caught every single day. We see movie depictions of drug lords barely lifting a finger to have things done for them but reality tells a different story. Blood, sweat, and tears going into building a criminal dynasty followed by a life of dodging bullets and the law, so I wouldn’t recommend it even if “I should just sell drugs” is the easy joke to make when you’re down on your luck. It may seem easy but it’s bad hand and the deck is stacked against you.

We use luck as means to explain what we can’t understand. It’s kinda like religion or internet memes. It just seems like that’s the way it is and we can’t do anything about it. Some people are lucky and other people aren’t. A conundrum of the haves and have-nots. The cards seemingly just fall in their direction and they just keep getting lucky over and over again. Is that really so? Well, I won’t lie to you…that’s completely true. They are luckier.

Much luckier.

They’re luckier because they have, cultivate or can identify opportunity, know when to take action and can extract maximum value from a given scenario. Luck, as most people know it, is a fantasy. It’s a case of mistaken identity. So many think it’s a scratcher that unlocks eternal happiness. But luck is so much bigger than that. It’s not about money or instant gratification. We associate luck with money because of leprechauns, movies that skip the hard work part or because the house always wins. There is an element of randomness depending on the scenario but you have way more control than you could ever imagine.

So, really, it all comes down to how you define luck. We often see luck as something that is effortless, when in reality, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You practice for hours, days, weeks, and years to get good at something, so that when you have the opportunity to prove your talents you’ll be ready. You invest your time, money, energy, knowledge and critical thinking into your passion, the moment or the people you love to cultivate the best possible outcome. That’s true to any scenario, any profession, for finding love or even making a decent sex tape. No one wants to watch a lousy sex tape. That’s just rude.

Luck only manifests itself in the right moment at the right time. The rest is on you. You have to be there and you have to be ready.

What do you think? Am I batshit crazy? Have any stories of how your converted preparation into opportunity? Let me know over on Twitter.

This article is an excerpt, a draft, from a book I’m writing called “The Turn.” It’s about me sharing what I’ve learned from playing poker for over a decade and how I’ve converted poker strategy into life strategy. I’ll be sharing more as I write more! I would love to hear any feedback. Just don’t make fun of my face, I’m sensitive.