henry winkler emmys

Stay at the Table, the Chips Will Come

While accepting the first award of the night this past Monday—and the first Primetime Emmy of his career—Henry Winkler quoted something he was once told by a friend in Hollywood:

“If you sit at the table long enough, the chips will come to you.”

I’ve never been much of a poker player myself, but I still liked this phrase. It’s both simple and complicated.

On the one hand, it’s saying that all you have to do is stay in the game and patience will pay off. But on the other hand, anyone who’s played or watched poker before knows that “staying in the game” isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes luck and risk, sometimes the blind and irresponsible kind, to save your spot at that table, and not every game guarantees the luck will eventually turn your way.

Sometimes it takes game after game, risk after risk, trip after trip to that table before those chips start to come your way. And even then, you’re always at the risk of losing what you won, right after you won it.

Looking up at the teleprompter, Henry Winkler said in regards to his speech, “I only have 37 seconds, but I wrote this 43 years ago.”

That’s a lot of games. A lot of lost hands. A lot of waiting and losing. A lot of unrewarded risk. And yet…

“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,” he said, “and tonight I got to clear the table.

Risk, patience, and perseverance will pay off.

Sometimes it might not be in the way you think/hope it will, and sometimes it will take way longer than you might like. But don’t let that scare or discourage you.

Stay at the table. Keep playing the game. Because those chips are most certainly coming your way.

Also, it should be noted that my very first thought after hearing Henry Winkler share this anecdote was of a kitchen table and tortilla chips…

I think the phrase works either way though, if you think about it.