“You show me someone who doesn’t have their life in order, and I’ll show you a bad poker player.”

-Coach Bahman

Sadly, most poker players will probably overlook their mindset and habits for the entirety of their poker career. Some may struggle at the tables because of it, some might find some success regardless due to talent and hard work, but all of them will leave money on the table by not taking care of themselves first. Believe it or not, most of our problems and struggles at the poker table first manifest in our personal lives, then are carried with us to the tables. Creating a strong mindset centered around hard work and emotional control will pay off a hundred times over, it’s one of the biggest edges you can have both in poker and in life. Let’s dive in.   

  • Get To Know What You Like And Work Really Hard

Many people seem to be very afraid of choosing the wrong path in life. If you don’t see the clear cut path from point A to point B, you start to ask yourself how happy in life you’ll actually be if you pursue something. The thing is, if you don’t go out and try a bunch of different pursuits, how will you ever find out which ones actually make you happy? You have to sift through the mud a bit to have any hope of striking gold, and the same is true with your careers and goals. If you’ve chosen poker as your profession, you’ve probably held less desirable jobs in the past and come to the realization that you want more autonomy or control in your life. At the very least you’ve seen the end result for people who never pursue their passions because they’re afraid of choosing the wrong path or are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Choosing a path and fearlessly pursuing it is the first step, now you’ve got to put in the work.

“How do I get good at poker?” There is one simple answer to this question that literally nobody wants to hear. You have to put in the work. Bencb, Doug Polk, Fedor Holz, all these guys put in absolutely insane amounts of time into studying and learning poker, and they did it without ever knowing just how far they’d get. At the time these guys didn’t know they’d make millions of dollars and start poker businesses, they just kept learning and improving one hour at a time. If it takes 10,000 hours of study to become an expert in any field, how much study do you think you’ll have to do to reach your goals and improve as a poker player? Keep grinding one hour at a time and leave the results up to the cards. 

  • Take Control Of Your Addictions

You don’t have a business problem, you have a personal problem that is manifesting itself in your business. If you cannot control your addictions and your day to day life, how can you expect to control your poker results, your business ventures, or anything else at all? The most important step that you can take towards improving your poker game is oftentimes entirely unrelated to poker, it truly all starts with you. 

Addiction comes in many forms, and it sneaks up on us fast. Alcohol, nicotine, pornography, fast food.. Just to name a few of the legal ones. The first step to dealing with addictions is to have some self awareness and recognize when your habits are becoming problematic. After you self-diagnose your situation you can start to research a little bit and look for youtube channels, podcasts, books, articles and mentors that can help you on your journey. If you can’t afford counseling or therapy, start with a $10 book or a free podcast. Remember that any amount of money you spend working on your addiction is not an expense but an investment in yourself, once your mind and body are right you will see improvements at the poker table as well. 

Are you disciplined in your life? Do you have the ability to overrule your emotions, or do you let them take control of you? Chances are, if you are quick to anger or easily frustrated in your day to day life, your relationships or your social circles, you will carry these issues with you to the poker table. The good news is that if you fix these psychological issues it will have a positive effect both on your day to day life as well as your poker game.

When you’re feeling those familiar emotions of anger or frustration, the first thing you should do is slow down, collect your thoughts and take a deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out, and allow your brain the opportunity to reset. “Zoom out” a bit and try to look at your situation analytically instead of being a slave to your emotions. Chances are, if you struggle with tilt at the poker table these problems are also surfacing in other areas of your life. Becoming more disciplined and taking ownership of your thoughts and actions takes time, but it will have an astonishing impact on your overall happiness as well as your poker bankroll. 

Training your thoughts and strengthening discipline is kind of like working out, the first workout is always the hardest. You’ve got to counter the strength of your bad habits with the strength of your discipline, and oftentimes the bad habits have a much stronger pull. However, in the same way that muscles grow stronger with exercise, your discipline will grow stronger every time you take control of your emotions and do something difficult. Every time you complete your workout despite feeling tired and unmotivated, your discipline grows stronger. Every time you walk away from the cash table instead of blowing off your stack on tilt, your discipline grows stronger. Eventually you’ll have the fortitude and composure to handle every bad beat the game can throw at you, you’ll be mentally strong and composed in poker and in life, and the net happiness you gain from a disciplined life will far outweigh the dopamine rushes associated with giving in to your emotions and desires. 

Progressing with your goals, cutting out bad habits and working towards self improvement is tough, and it should never be done alone. You have to have a strong support group around you for any chance at long term success. Join our FREE Discord group and start connecting with thousands of like minded poker players. We have channels for discussion related to poker strategy, mindset, diet, exercise, and much more, so get started by clicking the link here and introducing yourself! Let’s CRUSH!