Every New Year, countless people make outlandish claims about starting fresh, making new goals, and improving upon all the mistakes they made in the previous year. For some, this means a new (and overpriced) gym membership; for others, it means quitting smoking or drinking. For me, it’s to learn a new language (French, si vous devez savoir), get in shape, and write a novella (or novel, depending on how frisky I’m feeling). The vast majority of people do not follow through with these resolutions, and by the middle of February the gyms are a barren wasteland, with the would-be exercisers out at the bar—you guessed it—smoking and drinking (here’s hoping that I have the minerals to keep to my word).
In the game of poker, much like the game of life, people are (hopefully) always trying to improve their skills. Remember, the future is full of possibilities, and if you, ahem, play your cards right, you will be that much closer to WSOP bracelets, million-dollar cashes, and a place in poker history. (For those of you that have already achieved all of the above, I’m not entirely sure why you are reading my article, but thank you nonetheless!) So, in celebration of this most joyous of years, 2015 CE, we now present our 2015 New Year’s Resolutions for poker players.
Make Realistic Goals
Let’s face it, the chances of emulating Daniel Colman’s incredible 2014 run, where he cashed for over $21 million in live tournaments, including a first place finish in The Big One for One Drop for $15.3 million, is nigh impossible, or at the very least extremely unlikely. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to be as successful as possible, however, it merely means that you should set realistic goals. Winning a WSOP bracelet or taking down a six-figure cash is an unrealistic goal for the casual poker player, but turning a profit at the end of the year (or each month), or competing in a national or regional event isn’t. These are called SMART goals —Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Conventional wisdom says that you need at least 200 Big Blinds (BBs) and 20 full buy-ins to comfortably play a cash game; most casual players don’t even come close to meeting this criteria. This one is one of the biggest steps towards becoming a better (and profitable) player in 2015. Remember, it’s much better to be over bankrolled than under bankrolled.
It’s also incredibly important to respect the money/chips you have on the table. Losing a big pot may be heartbreaking, but it doesn’t mean the rest of your chips are worthless. Money is money, after all.
Learn To Play A New Game
Everyone and their brother knows how to play No Limit Texas Hold’em, but what about Pot Limit Omaha? Or 2-7 Single Draw Lowball? Or what about mixed games? In today’s world, NLHE has never been harder to win at, so perhaps you would be better suited playing another game. Give it a shot—you may be surprised.
Put The Time In
Pros like Ole Schemion and Ike Haxton didn’t become some of the best players in the world overnight; they did it through hard work, practice, and experience. Go out and pick up some poker books, read through all kinds of poker forums, and discuss hand histories and tips with your poker-playing friends. If you’ve got the money, it’s highly suggested that you invest in some one-on-one coaching. For online players, I can’t stress enough the importance of purchasing poker tracking software. Yesterday, you said tomorrow.
Enjoy The Game
Too many players get caught up in the continuous mental grind of playing poker and they forget about why they got into poker in the first place—it’s a fun game. Yes, making money is the main goal, but if you’re working long hours, barely scraping by, and hating every minute of it, is it any different than working another dead-end job? Think positively and try to focus on the good things in life. Take a step back every now and then and realize that no one is perfect (not even Phil Hellmuth, despite his claims) and that, in the end, you’re playing a silly card game.
Happy New Year everyone!