Why are you playing?

This should be a simple question really, but I seem to stump a lot of students when I ask them. Are you playing for money? For competition? For vacation money? To put the kids through college? Put yourself through college? As a full-time job (grinder)? To win a WSOP bracelet? For fame? To be a balla and have lots of women/men? Knowing why you are playing is important so that you don’t end up wasting energy during your poker career on things that aren’t very necessary.

For example, if you’re playing to win some extra vacation money, you don’t want to spend your time constantly looking to play against the best players at the table. Conversely, if you’re playing to win a WSOP bracelet someday, you don’t want to spend most of your time bum hunting tables.

Secondly you want to make sure you have a poker goal in mind. Goals and motivations can easily get blurred, and
with many people they can sometimes even conflict.
A goal can of course change over time, but knowing
what your initial goal(s) are can quickly let you
know how in alignment they are with your
motivations. If your motivation is to play for vacation money, but your goal is to win a WSOP bracelet, it’s going to be rough going to take small winnings and purchase high stakes tournament buy-ins. Not that you can’t satellite in for cheaper, but the motivation and goal won’t be in complete alignment and you’ll mostly working against yourself. Just make sure you’re clear in your own mind.

Once you understand your motivations and goals, then you can begin to make a plan for how to achieve your goals. If you’ve noticed your motivation isn’t completely in alignment with your goal(s), then be honest with yourself about what you think you need to change. Set realistic achievable goals to begin with, and then expand those goals into bigger goals as you achieve each goal. It’s great to have a goal of becoming the best poker player in the world, but don’t make that your first primary goal. Set something realistic like “win my first 5k online.” Then once you reach that, and have some taste of success, expand that to win 20k, and/or win a $20 buy-in tournament.

“Shoot for the stars, but aim for the moon,” they say, and for good reason. You want to have your big lofty goals always as the primary objective, but you don’t want your goals so big that they function as a point of discouragement when you don’t reach them as fast as you think you should. Have your goals listed out, and make it a habit of checking them off and continually moving your goals posts closer to your ultimate goal.

First Goals

Take some time now to write out what your initial goals in poker are. If you aren’t sure, then start with something small and expand as you think of more things you want to achieve. Ideally write them down on a sticky note or something small that you can pin to your monitor or the place where you’re primarily playing online poker. Carry them in your wallet if you play a lot of live poker, take them out and read them before you sit down at the table. It may sound cheesy, but this will keep them fresh in your mind and help keep you focused and motivated.

Blog About It

If you aren’t afraid of writing, find a place where you can make a poker blog. State what your goals are, and spend time each week or two updating your blog with your progress. It’s an easy way to help keep yourself accountable to your goals if you have others reading and encouraging you on. If you don’t think you are a good writer, try any ways. There are tons of places now-a- days to do this.

Make Poker Friends

Find other poker players that have similar goals to your own and become friends with them. Even if it’s a distant online friend, find other people that can assist and help keep you accountable to your own goals. Make sure your poker friends know what your goals are. If other poker players are checking in with you and asking frequently how poker is going,

it’s going to motivate you to want to have good reports to give back to them. Make sure to ask how your friends are doing as well, and make it a mutually beneficial relationship.

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