Guest blog post by MTVDeuem / Professional Poker Player
MTVDeuem became acquainted with poker approx. 7 years ago. In the beginning, he considered the game as just having fun. Already at an early stage he had gotten the sense that the game suited him ideally, although he suffered a loss of US$ 5,000 during 1st year of playing. However, improving his game all the time, MTVDeuem acquired prestigious Supernova Elite status on PokerStars. He also started travelling abroad & playing EPT series.
I’ve been playing poker professionally for about 7 years. In this time the number of players has increased tremendously. The game has also been changing incredibly fast throughout these years, which means that professional players needed to learn to adapt in every way necessary in order to stay in touch with the game and stay successful. After all my years of experience in poker I understand now more than ever how similar poker is to any other sport. If you are one of those people, who find it hard to see how a professional poker player can have all that much in common with a professional athlete, I hope you’ll be somewhat surprised by the end of this article.
I have been doing different kinds of sports my entire life, some of them professionally, and I found more than just a few similarities between the two. In fact, many of the most important things in sports are just as crucial in poker.
The first that comes to mind is discipline. Discipline takes slightly different forms in sports and poker. In poker, it first and foremost means choosing your games following the rules of bankroll management, which is the only way to succeed in this business, everything else comes second. In sports you are also taught early on that discipline plays a big role between being just a talent and truly succeeding. An athlete can be extremely talented, but will not succeed in a highly competitive environment without regular practice, putting in the work day after day, week after week, year after year.
The amount of work and the need for training your game is also something that connects poker to sports. Poker players “train” by watching strategy videos and read a lot of material on how to improve our game, sometimes get advice from others to see what part of our game could be improved. Coaching, for which the expression is taken from sports, has also become a standard in the game and continues to become increasingly popular. Another comparison here could also be that, just like athletes watching through footage of their last games to see what their mistakes were and where their overall game stands, we too must constantly re-examine our performances by going through our hand histories and re-evaluate our decisions. We have to work on our game on a daily basis and stay in “shape”, or it can quickly cost us.
… Is the next important thing. In poker, the biggest prizes are dealt in tournaments, which can take up to 15 hours and more and during this time you not only have to maintain, but even intensify your focus, and at the same time not feel the pressure of the most important stage of the tournament, or the amount of adversity you have to face in the hands that come up approaching these final stages. The same goes for athletes. As we know many games are decided in the last meters, seconds, or in one single penalty shot. Keeping focus and not bending under pressure is extremely important.
But in order to get to the point where we poker players find ourselves in a situation where are even able to think about reaching for the winning places, another very sports-like thing is crucial – physical fitness. Going through a 15 hour tournament is not in any way easy, and is not just mentally, but also physically training. This is why daily physical activity is very important for a poker player. It also brings up the importance of a healthy diet. You cannot ignore these things and expect to be able to take the strain of the long games, both mental and physical.
There are probably other ways to compare poker and sports and see that they are quite similar, but I hope that this was enough to show at least that a poker player’s career is a just as much of a sports career as any other. It takes a lot of work, sacrifice and discipline to become a professional athlete and it is the same for anyone who wants to be a successful professional poker player.
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