October 03, 2009
Over the past few years I have been on a search to find what makes a successful person. I think it goes hand in hand with being a great poker player. The skills you use on poker translate well into different aspects of our lives.
So what are they? I donâ€™t know all of them but I am obsessed with discovering them. I have come up with a few that I think are integral to being great at poker and great at the game of life.
1. Adaptability-Being able to adjust yourself on the fly to situations in life and handle them in a calm and concise manner is very important. Instead of complaining about a bad situation why not buckle down and find a way through it. Look at it as a challenge and a learning experience. My father, as much as I dislike him, is incredible at this. He has been through more bad times then anyone I have ever known.
A little story. While I to this day do not know the exact amount, my father lost close to a million in Vegas while I was calmly wasting my time in the arcades when they had them. I think I was around 12 or 14 at the time. Our phone rang at all times of the day. Vegas sent debt collectors after him and they were definitely not nice about it. They wanted their money and fast. It shattered his marriage, almost crushed his business but it never broke him as a man. He adjusted to the situation, fought through it and not only came out of the debt but had some of his most successful years in his business at the time.
He used the bad times as fuel.
2. Patience-Sometimes its tough to be patient when it feels like the walls are closing in on you. I think the natural response would be fight or flight which is fine but you have to do them in a patient manner. Donâ€™t just panic and fight or run away from your problems. Life is too short to run away. A much better option is to find creative ways of tackling the problem. When faced with a tremendous amount of pressure I think thats when human beings can be the most creative. Sit back, face your problem and relax.
3. Desire-You can call it passion, love of the game, will or whatever you want. If you really want something I donâ€™t think there is any excuse not to get it. With desire comes lots of pain, anger and frustration. You have to fail many times before you get what you want and it hurts. It sucks when you get so close to something only to have it slip out of your grasp. The point is that if you truly love and want something youâ€™ll fight through all of it to get what you want. You will seek out the path and follow it.
4. Luck- I personally have always thought that there is a lot of luck in poker and as well as life. I think everyone needs their own luck. I also believe that people create their own luck. What I mean by this is that people put themselves in position to get lucky as much as possible. Tournament poker is said to be a massive amount of luck but there are great poker players making it deep all the time. You can apply it to a sports team as well. Iâ€™m sure many of us have experienced our team lose to an opposing team who we say â€œGot Luckyâ€. They did in a way get lucky but that team was better prepared to get lucky. Even when we play video games or pick up basketball another person gets lucky. Sometimes it is just plain old luck but watch out for the people who are always prepared and they are the ones who get the luckiest.
5. Grinding ability-This is the ability to just put your head down and do the same thing day in a day out while at the same time looking for opportunities to advance. This goes with patience because you have to be patient and focused to execute this successfully. Whether its humping a crappy job or grinding low stakes it can get super boring. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that while they are grinding they arenâ€™t just tuning themselves out to the world. They are constantly scanning the horizon for newer and better opportunities, or new creative ways to beat the game.
6. Willingness to learn-This could be the most important one of them all. When you stop learning new things that is when you plateau and get stuck in life or at certain stakes. You have to be willing to see what your doing wrong, correct it, and implement it in your everyday routine with confidence. And once you start doing it successfully you have to have the confidence to say that there is a better way. People are creatures of habit. They get stuck in a routine that works and beat it to death. Some can be satisfied doing this but most will grow unhappy, bored and depressed. This doesnâ€™t just apply to learning how to range properly but with improving yourself. Improve your fitness, learn a new language, learn a new sport, learn how to hit on women properly, learn how to cook, study history, study astronomy. Just learning stimulates the brain and keeps it fresh. There are studies out there that support that keeping your mind active helps fight off dementia and improves mental acuity.
7. Confidence- Quiet confidence and loud confidence are two different types. If youâ€™re quietly confident in yourself you can sneak up on people at the tables or in life. People will sense this confidence and subconsciously steer clear of you but they wonâ€™t necessarily come after you. Its like stealthily running over tables. Youâ€™re pounding other players but they donâ€™t exactly know it. I think there is an art to this. Then there is loud confidence like a Phil Hellmuth in the live poker world or, from what I hear, AEJones in the online world. These two players create targets on their back and adjust accordingly to their opponents. They face a ton of heat but they know how to handle it. They have the confidence to bring out the worse in people, wind up with egg on their face but keep fighting on. I think this requires a great deal of mental gymnastics and massaging of the ego. You have to be overly confident to get through life sometimes or brave if you want to call it. You have to be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to better yourself. Putting yourself in new and challenging situations is what builds confidence and momentum to take on new challenges.
Well, I guess thats it for now. Iâ€™m sure there is much more to becoming good at poker and life. If anyone cares to chime in please do.