My dream is one day I can convince my parents especially my mum that I am really good at poker and it is what I enjoy doing, and that it is not a gambling game. Too many people especially where I am from don’t understand poker. To them it is a game and it is luck based. But how many pros are out there making a living and some making a KILLING playing poker. We are talking millions of dollars every month! Are they really that lucky? Or are they just better than the rest.
Similarities to sport:
1. Skills are important. The more skills you have the better player you are. There are many footballers in the world, but why is Messi better than the rest? Because he can do almost anything in football. He can dribble, pass, shoot, head, cross, juggle the ball like it is part of his body.
2. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you get. You learn from experience. But I do know some players who never improve despite playing the game for years.
3. Studying helps. Some people think reading books is a waste of time. I once spent 20 minutes reading one poker book (Mike Caro’s poker book of tells) and that same night it saved or made me $2000. Books help you to learn from others’ mistakes and speed up your learning process.
4. Stamina is key. Grinders play long hours and if you play poker long enough you will notice that the most profitable time is late night. The players left are usually losing players trying to fight back their losses so they are tilted and prone to mistakes, or they are tired and similarly vulnerable to making wrong decisions. I once played 30 hours straight and I was 34 years old at the time.
5. Ability to outplay your opponents. If you are a better player than your opponent, you will beat them consistently in the long run. If the Brazilian football team plays 100 times against Taiwan (no offense to my Taiwanese friends), the Brazilians should win most of the time if not all. Maybe once in a while on their worse day, or bad refereeing decision, or bad luck, they might lose, but overall they will crush their opponents consistently.
6. Self discipline is a must. Like any sport, you need to be able to control yourself to be a good player. You may have to make some adjustments to your life, make some sacrifices, and keep your discipline.
Differences to sport:
1. Poker does not discriminate. You can be male or female, young or old, white black yellow or green, if you put the effort, you can be a great poker player.
2. Skills can be maintained for life. Doyle Brunson is a valid poker pro in his day, and even till today when he is 81 years old. You may lose some stamina but you can still be as sharp as a knife if you hone your skills.
3. The sport evolves over time. Football has remained the same over the millennia. The strategies are almost similar. However poker has changed and is constantly changing. If you don’t change with the times you will lose out.
I have seen too many players too proud to stop and critique their own play. Stop to seek help or learn to improve. They keep losing but blame it on luck. Well, like any sport, having a coach really helps. Keeps you focused, helps you improve on your weaknesses, etc.
Why does Manchester United make millions a year? Well, football is not a game to them. It is a sport and a business. Well, poker can be a business too, if you’re good enough. 😀