Right now, thousands of you are preparing for the biggest poker event of the year, the WSOP in Las Vegas.
But many of you are heading to the capital of gambling without a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Sure, you have dreams of winning a bracelet, taking the winner’s photo surrounded by friends and family, and going out partying. While that’s fun to imagine, is it helping you actually get to the final table? No.
I want to help you realize that dream and setting goals is the first step. I actually put together a straightforward, strategic and practical video course for tournament prep (more on that later) and the entire first module is dedicated to the process of goal-setting. Why? Although it’s often overlooked, setting goals is a key component of success. It’s the foundational step that sets-up the entire WSOP for you. All the decisions you make in and around the series come back to your goals. Don’t believe me? Take a look at PokerNews’ Mental Game Tune Up for Tournament Poker review.
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Why Set Goals?
Let’s be honest, taking time to map out your goals isn’t sexy. However, as the top players can tell you, most of the things they do to become a high stakes crusher aren’t the things they Tweet about or post on social media. But make no mistake, they are getting done what needs to get done.
Goals are important because they provide direction for your motivation and focus. With a narrower and more intense motivation and focus, you’re going to play better, make better decisions around the game, be more emotionally stable, and adhere to your routines. Plus, by setting defined goals you pre-determine a lot of decisions, saving energy that will add up throughout the series.
Taken together, having clear goals along with a plan to attain them, increases the chances that you’ll achieve what you want. You’re not simply leaving it to chance that you will show up with the right energy, focused on the right things, or have solved for the right problems, etc.
Odds are this isn’t your last tournament series. When you show up to the WSOP with a clear idea of what it will take for you to perform your best, you’ll find out how accurate you were and that will help you better prepare for the next series. Do that again and again, and you become better and better as a player and at attaining what you want from this game.
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The idea of setting goals is something you may already be doing, but often when I work with clients there are some elements of the whole process that can be weak.
As you get ready for the WSOP, just saying you want to win a bracelet and make money,is too broad. Take time to set goals that will drive your motivation and focus. If you step back and think through where your game is now, identify the things you need to improve or the challenges that you’ll face, you will ensure that regardless of what happens in this WSOP you will walk away a better player.
You can’t control your results in the short-term. But can control how well you play, how well you improve, how well you handle the various crap that will get thrown your way.
By taking time to map out not just the results that you’re aiming for, but also a broader view of what success means for this series, you make it more likely that no matter what happens results wise, you can win along the dimensions that you can control.
Setting Results and Process Goals
There are still misconceptions in the poker world about the value of setting result goals. I wrote this article defending results goals a few years ago.
Results and process goals go hand in hand. The results determine the finish line, and the process determines how you’ll get there.
That’s why it’s ok to set monetary goals. You’re not expecting these numbers to be hit, you’re putting a stake in the ground—saying this is what I want and doing what’s necessary to have a chance of making it. But you might also benefit from setting a range with a high/realistic/low, so as you go through the series you always have a target that will keep you motivated and focused.
Process goals are really where your control in tournaments comes from. This is where you can assure yourself that, regardless of what happens results wise, you’re taking the right steps to play well and improve.
Every module in my video course provides the opportunity to be a process-oriented goal for you. You can aim to be in your A-game more, improve how you handle tilt, avoid burnout, get in the zone more often, or improve focus. You get the point, and you have a lot of options. But the key is to not overwhelm yourself with too much. This isn’t going to be your last tournament series. You want to nail your progression. Take on too much and you risk not progressing as much as you’d like.
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The Mental Game Tune-Up
In advance of the WSOP I always have clients, as well as potential new ones, looking to book sessions with me. It’s great to see how many of you are working on your mental game ever since I first published the book The Mental Game of Poker.
My calendar quickly books up and I’ve had a waitlist the last few years. That’s what motivated me to create a video course – to provide more of you with advice on all the major mental game subjects needed to prepare for the WSOP and other big tournament series. The subjects are:
- Set Your Goals
- Know Your Game
- Control Tilt and Other Emotions
- Avoid Burnout
- Get Into the Zone
- Thrive Under Pressure
- Maintain Focus at the Table
- Train Your Decision-Making Process
These modules are based on my experience with clients preparing for big events and actually include recorded coaching sessions with accomplished professionals Matt Affleck and Diego Ventura.
You’ll get 13 hours of video content for less than a buy-in at the WSOP. You can find more information here on my website. Use the code PokerNews to save $50.
Best of luck at the tables!