I heard a couple of comments lately from poker players I admire that really hit home for me and inspired me to write this next article.
“It takes an interesting mindset to succeed at poker tournaments. You have to be able to get demolished all day, study all night, and then return the next day ready to play your best. Do you have it?” – Jonathan Little
“Eat shit for the next 2 years so that you can eat caviar for the rest of your life” – Bencb Raisers Edge
People who don’t understand the depths of what I do often tell me that I play too much poker or that I am addicted to gambling. These people give me a sideways glance when I tell them that I can’t go out because I have to study or play poker. I often hear “I have been playing for “X” number of years, why do I have to study?”
I am definitely not addicted to gambling. I have lived in Las Vegas for 3 years and have played a slot machine exactly one time. I don’t play the Lotto or buy scratch off tickets. I am not addicted to poker either but I am definitely OBSESSED! In order to really succeed in this game you have to be obsessed. How bad do you want it? Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make it to the big time? Are you willing to change as a person in order to give yourself the best chance of being successful? Are you willing to put in the hours and hours on and off the table in order to improve your game?
Surround yourself with players that are on the same path as you. Iron sharpens iron. To fast track the learning process immeasurably, seek out like-minded, dedicated poker players on the same path as you are. This doesn’t mean that they all have to be as good as or better than you. As a coach, I would rather study with someone who is positive and has the required dedication than a Reg who is constantly complaining about studying or their results. If you find people who are not as committed as you then cut them until you find a solid group with a common goal.
Invest in yourself and do the work! A lot of people I talk to are worried about spending money on training sites or coaches. Most people do not treat their poker as a business. As the old saying goes….it takes money to make money. Most people don’t consider that investing in quality coaching and quality studying will only increase their win rate and raise their ROI. If you have to invest 10 – 20 % of your current bankroll in order to get coaching and raise your ROI by 50%, then you are up 30% from where you are now! There are levels to coaches as well. If you are a break even or losing player there are a lot of affordable training solutions out there for you (cough cough check out www.godsbigtoepoker.com ). There are twitch channels that talk a lot about poker content (cough cough www.twitch.tv/godsbigtoe ). There are very affordable video training sites, free forums to post questionable hands in and YouTube channels. The list is endless. You should be searching for resources you respect and trust and devouring all the information that these resources provide, in order to get yourself to a place where you can afford to move to the next level of training programs / coaches that are pricier.
Stick with it. No one is born with the ability to crush. Whether it’s poker or sports or anything else, it takes the fortitude of staying the course in order to reach your long term goals. It takes years of repetition, hand history reviews, trial and error and work in programs like Icmizer or Flopzilla before you go from surviving the micro stakes to playing the $55 MTTs regularly and profitably. The Poker Gods can be cruel and unmerciful. Remember to celebrate all the ups along the way and not to dwell on the downs.
Make the tough sacrifices. As Bencb said, “Eat shit for the next 2 years so that you can eat caviar for the rest of your life”. It may be more than 2 years depending on where you are in the process and how hard you work. It took me quite a few years but my friends and family all know that on Sundays GBT is not coming to your hang out, pool party, bbq or anything of that nature because I am playing poker. Want to hang out on Wednesday night? Not with GBT you aren’t. Wednesday nights are study nights. I have sacrificed more social gatherings and family dinners than I can count in order to put in the time needed to succeed at this game.
This journey is never ending. The game and the players in it are constantly evolving. Strategies that are working now won’t work 10 years from now. Ask anyone who was playing pre Black Friday. Even after playing this game for over 15 years and studying seriously for just as long, I am still always learning new things. I study poker at least 3 times a week. I still have my own study group of people that I trust and admire that I look to for guidance in tough spots. Today I invested in what I consider to be a next level poker training program. It was the biggest investment I have made in bettering myself up to this point. Through poker I have been so fortunate to have had some amazing experiences, been to amazing places and met even more amazing people. I am completely obsessed with being successful at this game that I love so much. And for that I am truly blessed.