What Determines Success in Poker?

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A deeper look into this vital topic to explore for all poker players. In this episode, the formulaic nature of poker success is explored. As well as the nature of the mind when it comes to striving for success.

The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 34 – Success in Poker

[00:00] Hey guys! It’s Chiggs. It’s another Losing Stress Podcast. In this episode, I want to talk about something a bit different and talk about success within poker.

I think exploring this topic of success within poker is going to be very interesting and valuable.

Defining Success

[00:21] So let’s first of all, define what we mean by success.

Let’s define being successful at poker as making a lot of money at poker.

I think if we leave it at. It’s quite simple and we’re not going to an amount here; just make a lot of money in poker.

Paths of Poker Success

[00:40] So if an individual wants to make a lot of money in poker then there tends to be two branches or two avenues that this person can follow to achieve that goal. 

[00:54] And the first one, quite obviously, is to just study a lot. So:

  • Spend a lot of time on solvers;
  • Spend a lot of time watching instructional videos;
  • Spend a lot of time discussing strategy with friends;
  • Observe and analyse really good players play. And build that into your game;
  • Observe and analyse how the general population plays within the games that you play or the tournaments that you play.

[01:24] Essentially, study is any of the activities that you’re doing off the tables to improve your strategy when you do play.

Quite obviously if you spend a lot of time studying and improving your strategy then that is going to be a key determinant in delivering success in poker. Because it will have a direct impact on your ability to make better decisions.

[01:49] And the other aspect that cannot be forgotten that must be applied when you do study is that you also have to play a sufficient amount.

You also have to play a lot.

Because if you’re studying solely then you’re not providing yourself with that opportunity to make money.

So with a study path, also, goes this path of putting in a lot of hours into playing.

And one of the main reasons for this is that the games that a study-path poker player plays tend to be quite competitive.

[02:30] Which actually leads quite nicely to the other path that poker players can take, which is the private game path.

So the path of networking:

  • To play in private games setup by other people;
  • Or to even setup and organize their own private games. And to perhaps also make money through rake if they do that. Which is a grey area. And an area for morality that I’m not going to go ahead and go into. Except for the fact that (to point out that) this is a path that a lot of players do take towards success in poker.

And I would argue that it is very clear that if a player does go down this path of wanting to play private games that the proportional of players that do are more likely to be successful in poker than the proportional of players that go in down this study path.

That’s probably very obvious based off the fact that private games are generally much softer than regular games.

[03:36] And so, OK, those are the two main paths.

Some players combine both. There’s also now this new path of becoming a poker streamer. Which I would say sits in between the study and networking private games side of things; where you’re having to display a personality.

[03:59] And if you’re listening to this now thinking,

“Ok Chiggs, this is all great! All you’ve done so far is pointed out the obvious”

I want to explain why I’ve actually gone into this.

Networking is largely undervalued in poker

[04:09] First of all, I think a lot of poker players are undervaluing the networking aspect of poker.

And how an important determinant it is when it comes to having success in poker.

It can have just a huge impact on your strategic development and strategic understanding if you’re friends with people who are very smart at poker:

  • Who are really thinking about it;
  • Are putting in lots of time in studying.

[04:42] Also, quite clearly, networking has a huge benefit for being able to play in better games.

And rather than delve too much on this point let’s just note the fact that networking is probably being underused by poker players who do want to be successful.

And with it goes some ‘iffy’ or ‘grey’ areas, which you have to apply a lot of care and attention to. Because you can end up getting involved in a situation where you trust people in a situation where you shouldn’t do necessarily.

[05:18] So let’s just say networking with intelligence is probably being undervalued by poker players in general.

[05:27] And so moving away from this, the main point that we’re moving towards in this podcast, tying it altogether, is that:

Success in Poker is formulaic

What I actually mean by this is that success relies on a certain number of elements. So a limited number of elements.

And if you’re interested in becoming a success at poker it is very interesting to look at what prevents someone from becoming successful in poker.

[06:00] And if you look at this, it is quite clear that, a person may block themselves from becoming successful in poker simply because they are unable to execute on a plan or a formula that makes sense for them.

[06:18] They may have certain emotional issues or certain conditional habits that prevent them from becoming successful in poker.  

[06:28] For example, they may find it difficult to play a lot when they’re winning or play a lot when they’re losing.

That is they have this response in thoughts and behaviour that prevent them from achieving the success that they could possibly.

[06:45] And so this is interesting. And this is something that somebody wants to apply real self-awareness can really look into.

[06:55] Just to make sure that we’re moving together: what we have now understood that success in poker is formulaic in one way or another.

And so we’re saying that a person is not successful in poker because:

  • They’re not following a formula essentially;
  • Or perhaps the other issue might be that this person is following a formula that isn’t complete or doesn’t quite provide them with the best opportunities that they could possibly explore.  

For example a poker player that only values study over also getting into really good private games.

 [07:36] So as we explore this objectively, I think it becomes clearer that if a poker player wants to be successful then they have to be open to all of these various elements that could potentially lead to poker success.

[07:52] However, at the same time, they have to do this is an intelligent way; where they’re not scattering their efforts too thinly over each element.

So they’re not trying to do absolutely everything and so not doing anything deeply enough.

[08:13] And so if one wants to look at this and really see: How is one going to become a success in poker; through looking at all of these elements and seeing whether they are applying themselves in the right way?

To me, it is very clear, this person has to take a look at what they’re actually doing day-to-day.

So that their activities match up to delivering success that they really want.

[08:38 ]And what this requires, quite clearly, is awareness.


It’s an awareness of what you’re actually doing from day-to-day, from hour-to-hour, from minute-to-minute.

Because without awareness it’s incredibly easy to be lead astray and become absorbed in an activity or thought pattern that leads you astray.

The various movements of different desire leads to confusion

[09:01] And to me, what’s also obvious, when you actually become aware of what you’re doing and how your mind is operating you become aware of how there are these conflicting desires within you throughout the day.

And it’s these conflicting desires throughout the day that throw you off.

[09:24] For example, you may want to get a piece of work done but you also want to go ahead and have fun with friends.

[09:34] And without just prescribing what which is the right activity this person should choose to do, let’s actually look at what this mechanism of conflicting desires is like. What it leads to.

[09:45] Conflicting desires involves a mechanism. That is it comes up automatically.

And so one has to question, one has to look at this to see, how this conflict of desires leads to this confusion.

This confusion between not quite knowing what to do. And having your attentional ability be pulled off in different directions.

[10:15] So looking at this objectively, what can this person do?

Or what can you do when you notice this come up?

Looking at the mechanism of confusion

[10:23] When you notice this come up you can actually become aware of it. That is you can look at it and see what this mechanism is like internally.

[10:35] If you’re really interested in it you will look at it with all your attention.

And when you look at something with all your attention it changes. 

But don’t take my word for this! Test it. Do it and find out.

Going Deeper into the Mind

[10:51] Ok, so far, we’ve gone ahead and explored this topic of wanting to become a success in poker.

What, I think, would be really valuable, actually, is to start to look at this even more objectively.

Why is it that a poker player chases success?

[11:10] And rather than look at this question on a surface level (that clearly a person wants to be successful because then they have more money; and that provides more opportunities and ability to buy things etc.), what I want to look at is:

Why does this desire to be a success in poker become the dominating factor in the life of a poker player?

[11:40] Can we actually look at this question? Rather than just run away from it.

Why is it, honestly, that a poker player has this dominating factor of wanting to become a success in poker?

[11:54] Is it because we’ve become conditioned to become a success; to chase success?

Which means that we’ve been conditioned to move towards a happiness that is projected into the future.

[12:13] If in the future, I’m going to be happy or I see that I’m going to be happy then my current happiness takes a backseat.

Or doesn’t get the full attention that it deserves.

[12:26] And, now, we’re looking at this objectively. But you can see this within yourself if you are determined to be successful.

If you are determined to be successful then you do not have the ability to apply your attention to all aspects of life.

Your attention becomes narrowed in this one field.

And so typically what tends to happen is you pay less attention to other aspects of your life, such as, your health and also your relationships.

[13:01] This is just a natural result of being incredibly determined to become a success. That is with this strong desire to become a success your attentional capabilities are all absorbed into the activities that you believe will bring you success.

[13:21] Can we actually look at success?

What is success actually?

[13:26] Success, actually, is a projection of a future arrival. And a future happiness.

Which means it is a mental construct. Made up from a human mind’s conditioning. The conditioning being the inputs this human mind has had.

[13:51] As you’re listening to/reading this can this hit you at a level really stirs something?

And where you completely see the truth of it?

[14:01] That success or the desire to be successful is this projection from my past: based off what I’ve heard or what I believe that will lead to me having ‘a better life’.

[14:20] But what is this actually?

Actually in reality this is an image. Which means it is the false.

It is the false because, as you go deeper into this, it’s made up by your mind.

And it doesn’t matter how many thoughts and how many points of influence that you have had to build up this image of success (and a future better life) it is still an image.

And an image can never be the actual.

[14:51] in fact, another way you can look at this is see quite clearly that life isn’t ever in anyone’s complete control.

Because, the fact is, anything can possibly happen to wipe you out. There can be an Earthquake, an alien attack or whatever. There could be something that does happen that ends you.

[15:17] And so seeing this as a fact, because it is a fact, and not just laughing it off what is it that you can do?

[15:33] I’ve realised that: I’m living my life in a way where I’m chasing success. I can see that very honestly and clearly.

But I see that, actually, life is continually happening. And it isn’t completely within my control and that also by chasing success I am causing myself to not completely enjoy what is actually happening right now.

[15:57] So what is it that I can do?

Maybe just maybe I can start to become aware of what is happening in this moment.

And see whether chasing success is blocking my ability to actually live. And enjoy living.

[16:14] So on that note guys, we’re going to end this podcast.

I hope this podcast has reached you at a level where it brings about this strong understanding at a deeper level where you completely see the fact and the truth of what is being explored in this podcast here.

This deeper aspect of breaking out this wanting to become a success.

If it has it sparks this passion for change.