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Mental Game & Life Strategy

The ability to set goals and the discipline it takes to achieve those goals without letting the rest of your life suffer are two of the most important things you need to master in order to improve as a poker player and begin getting serious about becoming a pro. One of the best parts of playing poker is getting out into the real world, playing in person, meeting new people and going on crazy adventures. This is also the riskiest part of the game because it takes you away from your comfort zone, and leaves you playing without your safety net. The solid footing of any healthy lifestyle depends balance and control, and a thriving poker lifestyle is no exception. Set realistic goals and learn to govern yourself so that you’re always working towards achieving your goals without letting the other, more glamorous things hinder your success. 

Table strategy is great to know, but you'll also need to understand how to manage yourself off the table to maximize your edge - and here’s where things get personal. I invite you to keep up-to date on my life and times as a poker player, and learn from my experiences so that you can learn from my triumphs and avoid my mistakes.  Any pro poker player will tell you your  mind is your most powerful weapon. Sharpen it, nurture it, rest it and give it peace so you can take to the tables - and your life - with killer confidence. 

Empowerment Exercise #1: Creating Awareness

Evan Jarvis

If the mere mention of the word ‘empowerment’ or ‘awareness’ makes you roll your eyes or noticeably cringe, then this article is for you – whether you like it or not. 

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”

It’s a kick-ass quote from Bronx Tale, and also exactly what you’re doing if you’re not living up to your full potential, be it in life or at the tables. (And if it’s one, it’s probably both, since your play reflects the way you live, and vice versa.) What’s one of the main reasons people don’t live up to their potential? They don’t feel that they can. They don’t feel empowered

The first step to empowerment begins with awareness, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, so take a deep breath and bear with me, buddy. You’ll thank me for this little chat in the long run. 

Creating Awareness: The Five Levels 

The good news is this exercise is simple and effective. It begins with thinking of something in your poker life or in your life in general that you'd like to be better at doing - and honestly, it's probably better if you pick something outside the game. After all, anything that's bumming you out in your everyday life is going to influence your game anyway. 

There are five levels of awareness that we're going to bring into play. What level you want to take it to today depends solely on you. Just keep in mind you'll be better off for trying something.

Here’s how it works...

Level 1: Think about what it is you want to improve and get a clear handle on it in your head.

Level 2: Write that thing down. This is a slightly higher level of commitment since you’re not just thinking about it in the abstract – you’re placing it firmly outside of your head. 

Level 3: Say it aloud. Words create power, so harness it. 

Level 4: Write that thing down and then put it somewhere you can look at it daily. This might be on your fridge, your bathroom or bedroom mirror, somewhere in your office or wherever you're sure to see it every single day, multiple times a day. Again, it’s all about creating awareness, and this tangible, physical reminder of an intangible thought does just that. 

Level 5: Say it aloud to someone you care about. This is the highest level of commitment you can make toward achieving awareness. Not only are you giving that thing the power of words, but you’re making yourself accountable to change by sharing the awareness with someone else - someone you value. Now it's about more than letting yourself down; it's about creating expectation that exists outside of you.

Still think this is wishy-washy BS?

Think again. The proof is in the pudding. I've been writing down my goals every single month and sharing them with you, and guess what? I've been crushing just about every single goal I've laid out. It didn't happen right away, granted, but I stuck with it and the practice began to pick up momentum. It’ll do the same for you. You just have to keep an open mind and keep at it. 

So explain again what this has to do with poker?

Everything. Grinding your days away at the tables is only going to get you so far if your mind is a mess and you are dissatisfied. Laying out clear, attainable, accountable goals is the best way to organize and clean house. Remember, poker is a microcosm of life where the stress, the disappointment and the joy is magnified. You need to be playing from a headspace that will not only handle that environment, but thrive in it. To do this, you need to be coming from a place of confidence, clarity and empowerment. The road to empowerment begins with creating awareness of your strengths, and most importantly, your weaknesses. It’s only then that you’ll be able to address them, plug the leaks and become a better player and person. 

Read up on the next empowerment exercise. It keeps getting better... and so will you! (Just keep repeating this: Open Mind, Bigger Bankroll!)

Video version of the exercise below!

View the rest of the series!