How to Enjoy Playing Yu-Gi-Oh!

Let’s admit it, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a complicated game. And there are a lot of cards in it that can just keep you from playing the game, which tends to ruin a player’s day.

I cannot begin to tell you how often I have come across players showing how much they hate this card or that card, or just hating on the current format altogether. At this point, they might as well be punishing themselves or something.

While I do not disregard the fact that some cards/decks in both the past and present have been OP, it just becomes annoying at some point when players are constantly asking and begging Konami to change the format right now. As if changing it will make everybody happy.

We have had some changes that have done a ton of good before, and some that hardly did anything at all. But, from my experience, no matter how the format changes, there’s always going to be at least one player that does not like it.

While changes are a good thing, and needed at times, it brings me sadness whenever I see someone being genuinely upset over something that they enjoy. I know I’ve experienced this before, and that’s one of the reasons why I made this post.

On my journey to become a better Yu-Gi-Oh! player, my father introduced me to this book called “The Obstacle Is the Way”. Through this book, I learned some philosophy concepts that, once I started applying them, changed the way I see things.

Over time, I delved deeper into philosophy and found more concepts that really helped me to not just become a better player, but also enjoy the game more, regardless of the situation.

Now I want to share some of the concepts that have helped me enjoy the game more. My hope is that one of these concepts will strike a cord in you; something to consider about.

Keep in mind: I’m only going to share some of the philosophy concepts that have helped me the most on my Yu-Gi-Oh! journey. And there’s no guarantee you will get the same experience as I did, nor are they permanent fixes.

There are plenty of other philosophy concepts out there that might fit you better than with me. But you won’t get the full benefit unless you start taking action and apply them to your life.

Lastly, let me just say that these concepts are not just for Yu-Gi-Oh! You can apply these concepts into any part of your day to day life.

Anyway, let’s start with one of my favorites.

Focus On What You Control

For as long as you have lived, I’m willing to bet you have experienced a moment where something bad has happened that has affected your life. This could be getting into a car accident, making a wrong decision that cost you a lot of money, or losing a friend, family member or loved one.

In terms of Yu-Gi-Oh!, that would be losing a match to a deck you hate, or getting 3 or more losses in a tournament and knowing you won’t make the top cut. These moments aren’t always fun, and we sometimes wish they could’ve ended differently.

But maybe the problem isn’t the event itself, it’s how we handle it. What I mean is, maybe instead of feeling upset about it, we should just shrug it off and be indifferent towards it.

Easier said than done, I know, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

There is a type of philosophy called Stoicism that seeks to help improve the lives of people that have to deal with day to day life. One Stoic notion is that when a bad event occurs, the problem is not the event itself, it’s how we judge it.

In that sense, it means when an event happens, it’s neither good nor bad. If you think about it, whatever event is bad to us may be good to another person.

For example, in Yu-Gi-Oh!, if we lost a match that would’ve gotten us into the top cut, we may perceive it as a bad or unfortunate thing. But to our opponent, it’s a good thing because they made it into the top cut.

So if an event is not good or bad, then, again, maybe the event isn’t the problem, but how we perceive it. We focus on this event and declare it bad in hopes that we can either undo it or get some sort of sentimental value from it.


In a sense, it makes us want to control the event itself since it didn’t give us the pleasure of joy that we were looking to obtain. And that right there is the problem: trying to control something we cannot control.

According to the Stoics, anything and everything that happens outside of us is out of our control, yet we focus on them in hopes that we can somehow control them. Just imagine how better it would be if you could control a terrible event and undo it.

As great as that sounds, that’s just not possible. After all, how would you feel if someone controlled you and made you do things you wouldn’t want to do?

If everyone could control the things they did not like, our world would be out of order. And since focusing on trying to control something doesn’t give us the control we seek, why bother focusing on it?

Instead, why not focus on the things you can actually control? Like your actions or how you respond to things. If you can do that, and let go of all the external things that happen to you, then you can find a sense of calm; a sense of joy even.

When it comes to Yu-Gi-Oh!, you don’t control what deck your opponent chooses to play, you control how you play the game.

You don’t control how your opponent plays their cards. You control how you play.

You don’t control what cards you or your opponent start off with. You control how you play.

You don’t control if your opponent has the best cards ever printed in the world or not. You control how you play.

You don’t control what your opponents say about you, or whether they lie or cheat. You control how you play.

You don’t control if the judge makes an incorrect ruling that ruins your chances at victory. You control how you play.

You don’t control who you will play against. You control how you play.

Focus solely on what is in your control and ignore everything else. That is all we can do.

As one Stoic philosopher, by the name of Epictetus, put it, “Don’t demand things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.”

Amor Fati


In Stoicism, they have many different quotes or phrases. My favorite phrase is “Amor Fati”, which is Latin for “Love of Fate”. (Fun fact: this phrase was created by Friedrich Nietzsche, who was not a Stoic, but this phrase he made fit so well into Stoicism that it was adopted into it)

Basically, it means to love whatever fate throws at you. Not just the good times, but also the bad times.

As mentioned before, external events are things that are completely out of our control, so focusing on them is a waste of our time. What is in our control though is how we respond to them.

In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there are times where our opponent goes first and is able to prevent us from playing the game. Sometimes it’s through a floodgate, or by performing a 10-15 minute combo.


No one enjoys sitting down to play a game and just lose without doing a single thing. How could we enjoy something like that?

What if I were to tell you that there is merit toward loving those moments? What I’m saying is: if we learn to love those moments, we trick our brain into loving it, thereby transforming that pain into pleasure.

I once knew a guy back in high school who was afraid of cats, and he recalled how it happened. He used to not be afraid of cats, but one day, he pretended to be afraid of them in order to make a girl laugh.

After doing it for a while, this fake fear became a reality. Essentially, what he was unaware of was that by doing it over and over again, he was training his mind to develop this fear.

If doing that can create a fear that wasn’t there before, then maybe the same method can be used to turn what we fear into what we love. In other words: we trick our mind into loving the hard times; into loving pain and discomfort.

Steven Pressfield, who wrote the famous book “The War of Art”, even touches on this notion in one of the book’s passages, “How to be Miserable”. In it, he explains his time in the Marine Corps and how they were taught to love being miserable.

“The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.”

  • Steven Pressfield, The War of Art


Again, this is hard to accept, but ask yourself, when has resisting, or complaining about something ever done you any good?

Sure when we were toddlers this method worked. But those days are over now. No one is going to come rushing to your aid to take care of you like before.

So if having a negative attitude towards something isn’t going to fix it, then perhaps we should flip the script and learn to love it.

If we do, we can think with a clear mind. Afterall, have you never been able to think clearly in moments where your mind is calm?

Focus On Getting Better

What’s the last thing you can remember when someone complimented you on something? What was the compliment about? And how did that make you feel?

Whenever you’re good at something, and someone notices and says something about it, it makes you feel really good, doesn’t it? It makes you want to do it again.

But eventually, that fades away. Unless, you focus on getting better at it.

When you sit down and focus on improving at something, not only do you get better, but it makes you feel like you’re a superhero in that world. You are able to do all of these amazing things that you probably couldn’t do in the real world.

To help illustrate this, I’ll be using this one-shot manga called “Look Back“, which is created by Tatsuki Fujimoto – the guy who created Chainsaw Man – as an example.


In this story, spoilers by the way, we focus on a girl named Fujino, who is complimented a lot for her storyboard drawings in the school paper. Till one day, another girl, Kyomoto, gets a slot on the school paper to draw, and you can immediately tell this girl’s drawing skills are significantly better compared to Fujino’s.

Not wanting to be outdone by the new girl, Fujino immediately starts researching on how to get better at drawing and practices. But after a few years with no sign of catching up anytime soon, Fujino decides to give up drawing.

Shortly after she does that, she finally meets Kyomoto, who immediately starts fangirling because she’s a fan of Fujino’s work and looks forward to seeing her new work. The first thing Fujino does upon hearing this is run back home and practice drawing.


There are many paths we can take in life. But we only need to focus on one thing.

From personal experience, I used to be into many different things (Yu-Gi-Oh! being one of them). I would often switch from one enjoyable thing to the next.

It wasn’t until I decided to focus more on Yu-Gi-Oh! that I was able to greatly develop my knowledge and skills in the game. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy doing other things anymore, but focusing on Yu-Gi-Oh! made me enjoy it more.

However, if you’re just looking for that good feeling, that sense of passion, then it’s going to lead you astray. Stuff like passion only lasts from the moment we feel it to about three days or so after we feel it. After that, we feel nothing.

And it’s because of that that some people don’t pursue improving at one specific thing. Instead, they stretch themselves out into other topics and never improve at anything.

If this sounds like you, then you need to sit down with yourself and decide on the one thing you want to do. Once you’ve made your choice, ignore everything else; they no longer matter.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other things or have another hobby. But by focusing on just one thing to get better at, you will obtain the superhero-like powers you’ve admired in others.

More importantly, you have to keep doing it even when you don’t feel like it; when you no longer feel that sense of passion.

Focusing on getting better at something can also be a great way to get out of a rut we’re in. Because doing so gives us a purpose in life.

You know the most age-old question, “what’s the meaning of life?” That’s usually us asking life that question. But, what if we looked at it from a different perspective?

Viktor Frankl, who was a Holocaust survivor, was able to use this question to help survive his time in the concentration camps. Instead of us asking life that question, he looked at it as life asking us that question.

This can be freeing as it means that whatever path we take will truly be our own, and we can focus on the things we want to do. By focusing on what we want to get better at, not only do we enjoy it more, but it gives us a purpose in life; a reason to get out of bed every day.

Following our passions may be fun, but it only brings detrimental to our life in the long run. Funny thing is though, if we sit down and focus on improving at one thing, we will in turn make that one thing our passion.

Ever since I made the decision to become a Yu-Gi-Oh! player, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I get whenever I find something Yu-Gi-Oh! related. Be it art, combos, replay videos… I love them all.

My advice to you is this: let passion come to you, not the other around. To do that, decide what it is you want to do with your life and dedicate everything to improving yourself in that field. And keep going even when you don’t want to. “Be strict with yourself. Tolerant with others.”

Love Being a Duelist


For this last part, there’s two things you need to do. The first is identifying yourself as a duelist.

When I say identify yourself as a duelist, I don’t mean just playing the game or saying you’re a Yu-Gi-Oh! player. I mean, really identifying yourself as one.

Take a moment to think about a tennis player. What do you think a tennis player does? 

Obviously that player would play tennis and practice playing tennis. But what else would they do?

Well, they would need to get the equipment needed in order to play tennis. As well as do a workout regimen in order to stay in shape and increase their performance.

A tennis player, you could say, would always be looking for ways to not only improve at playing the game, but any tips and tricks they may never have heard of before that can help with their tennis career.


Those are not the only things a tennis player would need to deal with though. There’s also some of the setbacks that need to be dealt with. Such as: broken equipment, injury, and, of course, losing.

However, these things would not discourage a tennis player because they know it’s part of the process. A process that they love (see Amor Fati).

But in order to enjoy the process, you have to give it your all. That’s what makes it fun. I’m a believer in the fact that if you don’t give something your all, then why bother trying at all?


Whenever I play Yu-Gi-Oh!, I do not hold back, ever. Nor do I quit until my last life point hits 0.

To me, if I hold back, then I’m disrespecting both myself and my opponent. And I play the game out for as long as I can because, to me, that’s what a Yu-Gi-Oh! player wants to do; that’s where they want to be..

I would see no reason as to why one would want to quit a game so soon. Especially if they know, or treat it as if it’s their last game of the day.

Lord Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita once said, “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of the work.” This is one of my favorite lifetime quotes that I try to remind myself whenever I do something Yu-Gi-Oh! related.

You have the right to play a game of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but never to who or what you will play against. Nor do you have the right to how that game turns out, or to the fruits it produces.

You only have the right to play the game. And to some who identify himself/herself as a duelist, that is all they ask for. Just having the chance to play the game they love is more than enough.

That brings us to the other part that’s needed, and that is: learning to love yourself.


Be honest with yourself, how much do you love yourself? Can you look at yourself in the mirror, without breaking eye contact, and say that you love yourself?

This is the most important thing. You need to be able to love yourself to the point where you want to take care of yourself as you would for a pet or loved one.

But most of all, you should make sure you do the things you want to do. That’s saying yes to the things you want and saying no to the things you know you don’t want.

Most importantly, it would encourage you to do the things you want to be doing. This is important because so many people know what they enjoy doing, but don’t always act on doing them.

There is a good quote from one Stoic philosopher named Marcus Aurelius – a Roman emperor, and considered to have been the most powerful man in the world during his reign – who wrote in this book called Meditations.

“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.”

  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.1


To apply all of this to Yu-Gi-Oh!, start identifying yourself as a duelist. Think about what a duelist does, should do, and what they will have to deal with.

Once you have figured that out, take those ideals and start applying them to your own life. As Marcus Aurelius once said, “​Waste no more time talking about what a good man is like, be one.”

In other words, don’t just talk about what a good Yu-Gi-Oh! player does, embody it. And make sure it’s something you love to do because you love yourself.



To close this off, there is one last thing I want to add, and that is to make sure you play Yu-Gi-Oh! because you want to play it. Not because you’re hoping to get a reward, or to achieve something.

Many players do their best to win events because they want to get something out of it. Usually material things, which is understandable if you consider how much money a player puts into the game.

But if you ask me, that’s probably why a player gets so miserable at times. When they lose, all of that money, all of that practice, and all of that traveling seem like they were for nothing.

They are making it so that they are only happy unless they win the event or tournament. And that’s the problem.

They’re expecting an external event, something that’s not within their control, to give them a sense of happiness. Only when you focus solely on what is in your control is when you can experience some form of happiness.

One thing that is in your control is how you respond to things. Because it is, why not let go of being angry and upset, and, instead, focus on enjoying whatever happens. Amor Fati.

If you learn to love whatever happens to you, then no matter what happens to you or who/what you run into, neither of those things can ever take away your own sense of happiness.

If your opponent plays a long combo deck that just shuts you down, rips every card out of your hand, slowly burns you away while your plays are limited, or just plays better than you: just say, “Amor Fati. I love it!”


After all, everyone has to deal with some kind of obstacle along the path they choose to take. And this is what a Yu-Gi-Oh! player has to deal with.

Someone who identifies as a Yu-Gi-Oh! player won’t be discouraged by these obstacles because they know it’s part of the process. A process that they love.

And to me, a Yu-Gi-Oh! player is someone who not only enjoys playing the game, but aims to get better at it. Focusing solely on what you want to do and getting better at it gives you a sense of purpose in life. A reason to get out of bed everyday.

Everything I have shared with you thus far is not just strictly for Yu-Gi-Oh! All of these things can help you enjoy whatever it is you choose to do with your life.

However, these things are not guaranteed to work overnight. You have to constantly work on them, much like a workout regime.

If you want to get the full benefits, you have to show up and work on them whenever you can, as often as you can. If you love yourself and want what is best for you, then this will be well worth it in the long run.

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