Become A World Champion - Lessons From The Best Poker Pros

Take a peek inside my visit to New York, where I visited my buddies Greg Merson and Anthony Gregg and learned some insanely valuable lessons from these pros. Their advice? Self discipline and total immersion. 


What's good Team Gripsed, this week I'm gonna talk about the importance of self discipline and total immersion. First off thumbs up if you remembered the exercise, no thumbs if you didn't. Now if you've ever heard of total immersion training I'm basically gonna tell you how you can create your own to get max benefit!

So, this last week I've visited a couple of my good buddies from New York City, Mr. Anthony Gregg and Greg Merson, who collectively have $20 million in winnings between them. For those of you who were lucky enough to be present, we had an EPIC stream hosted by Mr. Merson himself. For those of you that didn't… follow my twitch channel so you won't miss the next one! (His streams won't be put into the archives, so you'll have to catch them live!)

Between the playing, I learned a lot from being around them and also got reminded of things I've learned in the past from others (Griffin Benger, a guy named nutsinho). Basically my key takeaway was… the people who are the most successful in any discipline are the ones who spend the most time in and around their field of study.

As Lil' Wayne said, "Repetition is the father of learning. Intelligence, awareness, preparation all that comes from repetition. Money, bitches all that comes from repetition. TV spots, awards... repetition… The secret to success… is repetition."

What else did I learn out here? Tons. Here are the golden nuggets from this last vacation:

What I learned with Tony

  • Importance of unwinding and relaxing - I spent time at Russian Banya and was able to get out all the toxins and stresses. Something that's very overlooked in the work driven society… you gotta take time to relax if you wanna have energy to perform.
  • Likewise, you need proper fuel in the tank - the importance of good food, fresh juices, fresh veggies. Despite not getting much sleep (it is New York City after all) I felt great.
  • Importance of supporting/giving - because in a lot of ways money makes the world go round, and sometimes someone else can do a lot more with that money than you could, so it's good to share.  I donated $111.11 to PokerStaples and should've seen the happiness. I'm not saying give money to everyone, or give all your things away… but sometimes someone may be able to do more with it than you could.
  • Importance of doing you - Tony's method may not be the one most commonly used for success, but it works for him. I've tried other people's methods and I just get a weird feeling in my gut, and it's hard to stick it out. Just cause it works for someone else doesn't mean it's going to work for you. We all learn in different ways and it's important to identify the best method for you, because that's what going to get you the results you want faster.

What I Learned with Gregy

  • A good support system is key - when he lived with me, I made sure everything was handled, now his girl makes sure everything is handled. His place is spotless, the environment feels quite calm, and it's easy for him to focus and execute because of no distractions.
  • There's no better fuel than passion - Greg hast love for the game, and when you've got that, it's easy to get up and grind regardless of what happened yesterday.
  • Discipline (I will play this many hands today) - when you have a win, it's easier to find another win. So like I've said before give yourself the opportunity to win as often as possible.

What can I do with this stuff Gripsed? Gimme more specifics… you're the teacher. Teach me.

Ok, here are some examples of full immersion study methods so that you can teach yourself to learn:

  • Playing all the fucking time - Gregy put in 5-10k hands a day in 2012, now its a more modest 1.5-4k on average but it's still strong.
  • Watch videos & hands - Tony's always railing the live TEXT coverage, not because he wants to see who wins, cause he can learn from the hands that are played.  Not for mindless entertainment, there's a fine line.
  • Rail the games you want to be in - anytime Nuts wasn't playing the high stakes games he was watching them, trying to figure out what was going on in them. Griffin was another great example, don't think he ever missed an EPT broadcast. You gotta know what people are up to in the environment that you want to be competing in if you want to be prepared when your opportunity comes (keep it relevant to YOU).
  • Keeping it relevant will also keep you motivated - if you're following something that's so far from your level you might think "how could I ever get to this level". Where as if you're just watching something 1 or 2 steps ahead, its easier to envision yourself as the one playing.

I get this one a lot, Gripsed what's the BEST way for ME to learn?

You really wanna know? Ok fine, but it's not going to be the answer you wanted. It's the classic poker answer… it depends:

  • Find an instructor who resonates with you - if you don't enjoy their teaching style you won't take in the information, it's that simple.
  • Plenty of great training sites, plenty of great books, plenty of great live feed sites and plenty of great streamers - look around 'til you find the ones that you like, and stick with them. (hopefully you like mine :D)
  • Make sure you are applying what you learn - so that you're shaping your own game not just imitating others, if you don't try it first hand you can't internalize it and understand it.

They key here is discipline and follow through. If you are sloppy with your study, you won't get results. Likewise if you're trying to do a method you don't like, you're not going to stick with it. Or if you're miserable in general you're not going to even want to study.

This is VERY important because your poker performance is a reflection of how you manage yourself day to day. Downswings can usually be predicted. Look at how you're taking care of yourself, are you honouring your priorities?

If you can control your life off the felt, you can control it on the felt. If you can't then NOW is not the time for you to be in the gambling environment because it's too risky, it can be a dangerous place. 

So... can you handle commitment?

This week's call to action is all about testing that out and finding something that's going to give you power and a sense of control. Something which you can then bring over to the table and be a master of your domain:

Spend the week pondering something you'd like to commit to that you know will benefit you. Not committing right now, just playing with ideas, options and planning.

Some examples: getting a personal training, joining a running/swimming club, engaging in a martial arts practice, studying a specific form of yoga. They key is having a good teacher. Don't try to figure these things out on your own, you may get hurt. You need someone to show you the way, and the money you invest will pay dividends because you will actually experience growth and development (which will enhance your ability to make more money and feel better). But remember, you don't need to start tomorrow. Take this week to think about what you want to have happen in February, and let your commitment date begin then.

Me? I've joined Elliot Hulse's Strength Camp. I'm going to join a Kundalini yoga studio when I get home. I've hired a nutritionist so I can fuel these new activities, and I'm going to read some books on breathing because that's the greatest source of energy.

As for my follow through, well, you'll be hearing about that in upcoming videos. And as for how it effects my game, well, you can see that live on Twitch. Make sure you follow so that you can be notified when me or some of the other Team Gripsed Pros will be streaming.

As always, feedback and suggestions, please and thank you!