Maria is a newly minted PokerBaazi Team Pro, confirmed wanderer, voracious reader, and wannabe writer.
Her poker idols are Phil Ivey and Martin Jacobson because they're both cute.
She loves chocolate.
PokerBaazi Team PRO
On January 26, 2018, we will be celebrating Republic Day in India – honoring the Constitution of India which was put into place in 1950.
There will be parades, speeches and much of the regular fanfare to celebrate 69 years of India being a sovereign democratic republic based on the four pillars outlined in the Constitution - Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
These four pillars have been underlined in a very special way for us in the Indian Poker community this year.
Legendary boxer joining PokerBaazi as its brand ambassador is the biggest boost for poker and a great start to 2018 for all poker lovers.
To me, the other important part of this year’s celebrations or pre-celebrations as an Indian, a woman and as a Poker player is the happy fact that one of our very own, Muskan Sethi, is being honored as a First Lady by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Muskan is being celebrated for being the first woman who has breached the bastion of professional Poker in our country. How amazingly cool is that?! This not only validates Muskan and the hard work she has put into her game, the time she has to spend away from her loved ones while traveling for Poker, the charitable contributions she makes through her winnings.
It also validates all of us on the Poker scene today. Poker is being seen as a reputable profession, a sport which both men and women are free to pursue and in which to excel.
We, at PokerBaazi, would like to congratulate and thank Muskan for lighting this torch for our small Poker community and wish her all the best always!
In further celebration of this Republic Day, PokerBaazi is rolling out a Republic Day Series that you absolutely cannot miss with exciting tournaments between January 25-28.
Besides a huge freeroll with 5L GTD and higher guarantees for the Saturday and Sunday tournaments, we can all look forward to playing The MoneyMaker again! With 1 CR Guaranteed and 30L for first place, this tournament is a life changer in all respects!
With just a 10k+1k buy-in, The Moneymaker will give you a chance to win 30L – it can be the turning of a dream into reality, the promise of a fresh start, an expectation of a brighter future. Go for glory this Republic Day and give it your all to join the other Moneymakers Anujkumar Kodam and Devesh Thapar in the halls of legend!
PokerBaazi is running mega Satellites in this week to offer over 100 guaranteed tickets to The MoneyMaker in a fraction of the original cost.
PokerBaazi Blog Post #9
State of Flow
PokerBaazi Team PRO
In every sphere of life, the aim is to be in that sweet spot of the zone or in the state of flow – where work becomes pleasurably effortless, personal relationships are joyfully synergistic, and healthy living is vibrantly conscious.
As we all know, living with this kind of focus in our daily lives is not an easy feat and we may not even realize it when we do somehow get into the zone. However, it is a state of being that all self-help gurus advocate and try to help us attain through meditation, guided hypnosis, audiobooks, and more. Anthony Robbins, in his book, Awaken the Giant Within, urges his readers to write down goals and read them twice a day to build a neural pathway to achieve those goals. Basically, this is to tune yourself to get into the zone in your daily lives.
Attaining the ability to get into this flow state quickly and for a sustained period of time is especially important for athletes who need to have a level of focus which is different from regular folks. Sports superstars including Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt, Viswanathan Anand, Saina Nehwal, Serena Williams, Pele, undoubtedly know how to tap into the flow state and use it to play their best, always.
As Poker players, we are a unique group of gladiators who need to stay focused for not just hours but for days on end - for example, playing the WSOP Main Event, where one needs to get through 5 days and an average of 6500 competitors to reach the final 9.
The major Indian online poker tournaments, which are now daily fare, need us to stay focused for at least 8-10 hours if we want to have any possibility of reaching the top 3 positions. Cash game players play sessions which can go on for days without much of a break and need to have laser focus so that they don’t lose hard-won money.
In the last few months, I have been reading about the state of flow, how to get into the zone quickly and how to stay there for the longest possible time. Till date, the only time I think I get into this zone is when I am at a movie, eating from my tub of popcorn and suddenly I realize my fingers are scrabbling at the bottom of the tub – faced with questions like how did I finish all that popcorn, what time is it, where am I?
I’m just kidding. Kinda.
Because the state of flow is exactly like that in simplest terms. It’s subconsciously doing something that you’ve done a hundred thousand times before and doing it without trying. It will be effortless, without your mind overthinking, distracting or sabotaging.
But remember, this can only happen if you have put in hours of practice and study. Someone who is playing Poker for the first time will not be able to get into the zone while playing because they have to keep thinking about the rules, the hierarchy, calculating the bet sizes, and other things that their brain is trying to figure out.
I’m sure most of us who have been playing Poker for some time have been in the zone during sessions but the trick is to hook back into the zone each time we play. It’s not as difficult as it may sound but one does have to prepare for it and then make the best of it. Here are some tips on how to get into the zone.
Take some time before each game or session to prepare yourself for the type of tournament or cash game you will be playing. Meditate or use guided hypnosis to calm your nerves and get into a confident state of mind. Also, review a brief list of points you need to keep in mind while playing the game – things you have learned to either do or not do from your past few games or sessions.
To be able to tap into the zone, you must not have any distractions. Well, I’ll modify that – do not have any additional distractions than what your mind is already used to. For example, some of us like to listen to music while playing and this could even help us get into the zone. Others like to watch TV while playing. And most of us multi table, some even playing up to 12 tables at a time (say what?!). If these are daily activities while playing, your brain is already used to processing them as normal so you will still be able to get into a state of flow.
Focus Your Attention
Now that you’ve prepared yourself and have put yourself in a comfortable space, it is time to pay attention. Do not force the attention but let it wash over you. Be observant, get to know your table, let your mind come up with its own analysis of the players, their tendencies.
Access Your Memory
If you have been in the zone before or even if you haven’t, try to think back to the last time you played your best game. Those of you who have been in the zone, think of the last time you were in that sweet spot. Without forcing it, access your memory – how it felt to play well, how happy you were with your game, how you were sitting, how you lost track of time. Slowly, but surely, you will replicate the feeling of that last session and will access the moment of being in a flow state.
While you are trying to access your memory, you also need to let go and trust yourself. Don’t worry about bad beats or the guy who is 3 betting you relentlessly. Just know that you can use all the knowledge you have about poker in this session. It will be automatic. Learn to trust your game.
By following these tips, you will see a vast difference in how you play – in terms of accessing your poker knowledge automatically, playing hands that make it seem to others like you’re running good, and basically beasting it all the way to the final table. Who wouldn’t want to get into this state of flow if these can be your results on a consistent basis?
Shine on, you crazy diamonds.
In the last few weeks, I have been doing a lot of mental work around confidence. Being confident while playing Poker, specifically, as I believe the more confidence you have the less you second-guess yourself. The work I’ve done is showing better results in my game but it also got me thinking about the thin line that separates confidence from ego.
On the poker table, as in life, when ego enters into the equation it becomes detrimental. It makes you overplay your hands, makes you think of taking revenge on someone who has exploited you in a few spots or turns you into a notorious bully who inevitably will get slapped down by a stronger or more skilled adversary.
It might not even be intentional for confidence to spill into becoming egotism but the results are the same. Ego leads you to make unprofitable plays because in those moments you are allowing emotion to lead the way.
A few tips on how to avoid ego creep into your game:
You may believe yourself to be the next Fedor Holz but don’t go bragging about your Poker skills to all and sundry. Let your game always speak for you. If you have Coaches and Mentors who are helping you improve your skills, always remember that it is their skills that helped you win games thereafter. Acknowledge that publicly and to yourself; it will keep you grounded. Being humble does not mean that you are less of a person for all that you have accomplished; it means that you are quietly confident and respectful of others’ accomplishments, too.
Be realistic about your skills and your bankroll. It is easy to slip into thinking that with one big score, you are now one of the best players on the circuit. Do not jump into playing every major tournament that comes your way unless your bankroll can underwrite it. Continue to keep a balance between smaller buy in tournaments/cash games that you can now crush for bread and butter and use the profit to play bigger buy ins for more experience and, hopefully, more wins.
When you let ego take over, you lose control over your emotions. This is the very last thing you need to have in your arsenal when you are a Poker player. You need to remove all emotion from your game to play optimally. If you allow another player to press your ego buttons, you lose sight of the rest of the players on your table and will only focus on taking that one player down. How is it possible to crush the table when you are only looking to crush one player? The other players on the table will be observing your actions and will take every opportunity to trip you up.
Anthony Robbins, the famous self-help guru, has made his living by emulating the most successful people on the planet and teaching others how to do the same. In India, our best Poker players are all amazing and if we regular Joes can try to emulate them, it will help us grow as both Poker players and people. In the last two and a half years of being on the Poker circuit, I have been impressed by their humility, their calm demeanor, their willingness to help weaker players, and most importantly their dedication to continuously improve their Poker skills. We are extremely fortunate that we are still a relatively small Poker community and can reach out directly and personally to our country’s foremost Poker players and to learn from them.
Make it your daily endeavor to check your ego at the door when you get into a Poker game. I can assure you that you will experience less tilt, make more creative plays and will have the wherewithal to become a more profitable player.
Still waiting for chocolate to be sent to me for giving all of you so much gyaan ;-)
We’ve all been there. Through the dungeon of downswings where everywhere you turn is a dead end or a scary monster called BadBeatBogeyman. You try to run in another direction where there seems to be some light, carrying with you your precious AA’s, KK’s, and AK’s, and suddenly out pops another monster called HaHaGotchaOnTheRiver.
Tupac has a word of advice for all of us, “And it’s crazy, it seems it will never let up, but please… you got to keep your head up.”
So what do we do during this defeating, demoralizing, dungeonesque time?
Here are some of my ways of breaking through to the other side:
“You learn more in failure than you ever do in success.” – Jay-Z
First thing you have to do is just take some time off. Just log off the poker site or go home from the poker room and spend time with friends and family. Your brain will be running through all the bad beat scenarios but try to shake it off and be in the moment. Let your subconscious sift through the hands you’ve played over the past weeks and let it figure out how you could have played better poker while you just tune out and relax your mind and body.
“It’s gonna be a long long journey, It’s gonna be an uphill climb, It’s gonna be a tough fight… But I’m ready to carry on.” - Mary J Blige
Variance is a fact that we poker players have to accept. We just have to make a plan for those days or weeks when it hits the hardest and hope that each time we go through it, we come out stronger, better players. Maybe it is the nature of the game to have us step away to take that time out to rejuvenate ourselves.
“Sometimes you just gotta let shit go, and say 'To hell with it’ and move on.” - Eminem
There is no point in compounding your misery by complaining about your bad beats, really. It just makes you live through the pain over and over again while you start to tend towards criminalization by thinking how you want to kill the person who called your AQs with 86o. It does no good, and keeps your brain focused on the negative outcome and associated unhealthy emotions.
“My mind on my money and my money on my mind.” – Snoop Dogg
When your brain gives you the inkling that you might be at the beginning of a downswing, first think about your money. You do not want to be playing high stakes or buying into tournaments you cannot afford when you know what the outcome is going to be. Your ego might be telling you that you can beat the downswing, turn it around, but it’s better to explore that theory using smaller amounts than usual.
“Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been blessed, because I’m doing what I want, so I never rest.” – Beastie Boys
Try to have a positive outlook when you are going through a downswing. Think about the fact that you are getting to do what you love – play poker. Go through your records and look at all the healthy scores you had over the past few months. Remember the good things you did with the money you made – maybe you gave some to your family, bought something for somebody that needed it, made a donation to a charity. This will help you focus on the fact that this is just a phase and all you have to do is get through it.
“Success doesn’t just land on your lap. You have to work, work, work and work some more.” – Sean Combs
The best way to take advantage of your downswing is to work on your game away from the tables. You might think you know everything there is to know about poker but that is not the case. There is much to learn and to be the best you have to continuously improve your game. Watch videos, read articles, work on your mental game. You will come back to the game with a fresh perspective and a better chance to improve your consistency at the tables.
“And even when I was close to defeat, I rose to my feet, my life is like a soundtrack I wrote to the beat.” – Dr. Dre
Downswings give a beating to a poker player’s confidence. You end up questioning yourself, your poker skills, your intelligence, your entire being. It can overwhelm you and leave you depressed and miserable. These are the times to believe that your ability to rise up will shape your character, so no more sniveling and moping. Pull yourself together, do things you love or do something new to get your mind off the downswing. Focus on eating right, sculpting your body, enhancing your mental game and doing something nice for others. It will do wonders for your confidence and for your game.
I know it’s all easier said than done. But the next time you’re staring at the abyss try one or more of the above, I guarantee you will feel better and eventually do better. Imagine the prospect of coming back to the game after each downswing with renewed focus, a sharper game, and positive energy – what more could you ask for!
Oh yeah, and you can send me your thank you’s for giving you the best advice ever, in the form of chocolate, lollipops and ice cream. I need sugar during my downswings.
In the past year, I’ve received several messages from young players who recently completed their graduation and just started their first jobs. My assumption is that they are all around 22-25 years old. They usually have three questions for me – the first one being “Do you have a boyfriend”, the second one is “What are you doing” and the third one is “I want to quit my job. How do I become a full-time Poker player”…
This post aims to answer the last question since I’m pretty sure the first two questions, as entertaining as they may be, are not of much relevance to any discussion around Poker!
Most of us who play Poker have been seduced by the siren song – play Poker all day long, make a lot of money and live the Poker lifestyle that the Pros enjoy. But the reality is not as fantastically uplifting - this siren lures you with a golden dream that leaves many players broken on the rocks of despair and consumed by the sea of disappointment.
I’ve read a number of articles that keep reinforcing the idea that the 9 to 5 grind in a “regular” job is the death knell to any cool, hip young Poker player. I mean, how could you be perceived as glamorous and sexy if you work as an IT analyst or a junior HR executive when you could be living the high life as a full-time Poker professional? ut like the saying goes:
Poker is a hard way to make easy money. In fact, there is no such thing as easy money.
Let’s look at the statistics. The average tournament player will get in the money 10% of the time while an expert player usually gets in the money 15% of the time. That means as an average tournament player, one is losing 90% of the time!
When it comes to cash game players, they have to deal with downswings that sometimes go on for more than a few weeks.
It may seem like I’m being negative but I’m not here to discourage anyone from playing Poker - in fact, it’s the opposite.
Instead of looking at becoming a full-time Poker player in the early years of your work life, wouldn’t it be amazing to have a second income from Poker? Working hard at your job will help you with discipline, playing Poker as a hobby in the evenings will help you with patience and focus, while playing without the pressure of having to make rent money will make you fall in love with the game even more!
My advice to all of you out there who feel like you want to make Poker your career, follow these simple steps and then decide whether it is the right path for you and at what point in your life can you afford to so.
I would also suggest that you look around the Poker circuit and talk to some of the most successful, profitable players. You will soon realize that most of them have jobs or own businesses.
There are very few young players who play Poker for a living without a financial safety net. Those that do are consistently winning players who have been playing for a few years, who work very hard on their game and other aspects such as mental/physical strength. By all means, be inspired by them, but don’t jump into taking up Poker as a career by being ill-informed or because of your ego.
And, the next time anyone asks me what I am doing at 11:30 on any given night, I will send you a picture of me – not twerking at the MTV Pool Party, or sipping champagne on Dan B’s yacht – but in my pajamas grinding The Big 1 Lakh tourney on Baazi. Not glamorous or sexy in any way, I can assure you. More like Animal from The Muppet Show. That’s the reality of the life of a full-time Poker Pro ;-)