Experience itself is not the secret ingredient to success in poker. It's just an off-shoot of the real core secret, namely time. Hours and hours of playing, reviewing, studying, reading, observing, talking, and more playing. And then again, and then repeat indefinitely. Let's talk about what this all means.
If you've been kicking around the ol’ World Wide Web for more than a few days, you've doubtlessly stumbled across videos or articles by experts who claim to reveal the secret to success.
I get it. The draw to the sweet, sweet siren song of your future happiness is pretty powerful, and here's the thing: I'm not knocking the Tony Robins’ and TED Talkers of the world - I'm really not - they have some serious wisdom to impart, but as someone who is asked on an almost daily basis about the "secret" to becoming a winning poker player, I can't say I've seen more than a handful of coaches really nail what it takes to master any pursuit, be it poker, caber tossing, or sewing.
Sometimes - especially in the beginning - you're going to bust out, bad. Sometimes the caber is going to land on your girlfriend’s new car. Sometimes, you're going to sew your sleeve to the machine. That's how we learn. That's how we grow. That's experience.
But experience itself is not the secret ingredient to success in poker. It's just an off-shoot of the real core secret, namely time.
Now, before you boo me off the stage because you were waiting for some cryptic and mystical message from the other side of the proverbial mountain, let me point out to you that nothing - and I mean nothing - was ever achieved over the course of a weekend in a hotel conference room. Other than a probable hangover and perhaps the phone number of the hottie who sat next to you, you aren't going to walk out of there an entirely new person.
But maybe it was the beginning of the road.
All that talk about creating space for yourself, respecting your vision, honouring your essence, slowing your mind - it's not bullshit, but what is seldom mentioned is that logically grasping these lessons is one thing: truly nurturing them and letting them germinate is quite another. It takes time to grow, friends, and so many of us are short on patience.
Hey, I get it. For new players who see me giving shout outs to Gripsed community members who have cashed-in five and six figure wins for measly buy-ins and just a few hours of play, it’s hard not to think, "Damn! I want a piece of that."
Of course you do, but it's not that easy. These winning players just make it look easy. They make it look easy because they've put in the time. It takes years to become a consistently winning player.
Not only have they learned from others, via videos, blogs or books, but they know that watching that video on winning 3-bet pots doesn't mean that theoretical knowledge will transfer to the tables. You have to put your mind and body in those situations time and time again and learn to get comfortable in the practical aspects of the game. All the book learning in the world won't save you if you've never actually played a hand.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: poker is a microcosm for life.
There is no magic pill, no one-day wonder. Slow, steady and focused progress is what it takes to succeed - and I've done an entire series dedicated to the baby steps you'll need to get started. You can find these morsels of mind-blowing wisdom in the Poker Strategy section of my blog, where I address the big, everyday issues that affect our ability to reach our goals. I'm talking the work/play balance, the importance of a support system, how proper rest propels your play, how to optimize your energy for peak performance as well as dozens of other topics.
If you're thinking, "Aw, man, reading all these articles is going to take so looooong!" then you're probably not in the right head space to be a champion, because time is all you have, and it’s at the core of what you need to be a winning player.
So suck it up, start learning and get grinding. The community – including me – is here to help.
Photo Credit: Dave O | Flickr