Feb 25, 2018

I have been trying to lose 5 kilos for the longest time.  I know my life will be perfect once I lose those 5 kilos. I will win every Poker tournaments, crush all the cash games – and I will be doing these incredible things while wearing the clothes I have bought and stored for the past ten years in anticipation of the ultimate day I lose those stubborn 5 kilos.

It is with this goal in mind I joined Bikram Yoga and embarked upon an adventure that has been able to align my Weight goals with my Poker goals – albeit in unforeseen ways. But then, God works in mysterious ways.

Courage

When one makes an idiotic decision to start a Bikram Yoga class, it is exactly like making the idiotic decision to play professional Poker. The heat is on in more ways than one.  Bikram Yoga is a one and a half hour intense yoga class held in a closed room with the temperature rising to 41 degrees coupled with 40% humidity.  Each morning I wake up in a cold sweat with my first thought being, Holy Moly (actually, stronger curse words are my first thought each morning), I have to head to the torture chamber today. Not fun. So I gather my courage, look into the mirror and tell myself “You go girl, you can do it.” 

Lesson Learned: As the saying goes, “Everything you want is on the other side of Fear”. In Poker, as in life and Bikram Yoga, you have to be brave. Don’t chicken out - make courageous moves even when you are seated at a live tournament table with the likes of those I am usually seated with. You know who you are – Imma coming for you next time.  Just kidding. Really. I love you guys, please be kind.

Focus

So I am now in the Bikram Yoga class, talking to myself, pumping myself up in the hopes that I can make it through the one and a half hour of heat and sweat.  I have decided to shake everything off, be Zen and as Nike says, just do it. I look up and there’s a hefty, hairy man who has taken his place in front of me. He is shirtless and nearly shortless, too, as the tiny spandex shorts he is wearing leaves little to the imagination.  Now it’s a challenge of focus.  I train myself to see only my own body in the mirror but since the mind is like a mischievous child, it keeps wandering to places where it should not. And definitely must not. 

Lesson Learned: Focus is the foundation of everything in life. In Poker games, I tell myself to focus only on the players on the table, determine opponents’ ranges, and find the right spots. Instead of daydreaming about meeting Elon Musk and requesting him to invent a technology that allows you to reach through the computer screen and strangle the players who continuously shove their entire stacks of 100 BB to gain 90 chips from the pot in online poker tournaments.

Discipline

Now, half an hour into the class it feels like I’m in an early stage of a tournament. I’m cruising; I’m feeling great about the work I’m putting in. Working with balance and skill and I’m in a good place. I make a slight misstep by losing focus and turn my head slightly to the right (mainly in a gloating manner, trying to show off my ability to contort myself 10% more than the previous day). The matronly seventy something lady to my right, wearing a thin cotton flowery salwar kurta, is now moving like a yogi samurai with such grace and flow, contorting herself into the best possible posture that she would undoubtedly be Bikram’s student of the year. And she is doing all this while smiling. I sheepishly turn back to look at myself in the mirror and vow that I must be more disciplined and not be swayed by my own ego, even if I am pretty good at yoga. Pretty good is not good enough.

Lesson Learned:  Do not let your focus waiver – be disciplined so that every move you make involves focus and deep thought. Do whatever it takes to stay on the path to your goal, whatever it may be, without any distractions. Remember, that in today’s hyper competitive poker world as in life, being pretty good won’t help you reach the brass ring.  You need to focus on being legendary.

Flow

One hour into the class and I’m in the zone, or being one with the flow - my mind is clear, the moves automatic. I am thinking only of the yoga postures and my mind, surprisingly, does not wander. I don’t see the hairy man with the curvaceous bottom nor am I worried about the little geriatric gymnast to my right.  My moves are as good, if not better now than everyone in the class or so I choose to believe. It feels exactly right – like I’m 3-betting and stealing blinds at the right time as well as making amazing reads. I’m feeling fine – let’s do this.

Lesson Learned: If you can grind with the will to win and keep reminding yourself to be focused and disciplined, you will find yourself in the zone or in the sweet spot of the flow. Your hard work will pay off - just keep getting yourself in line in the early to middle stages of the tournament.  All the study and hours of practice will make your moves automatic and you will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Endurance

It is nearly the end of class and I am dying now. No, really, I am literally dying.  In the exact situation I find myself every time nearing the money or FT bubble in tournaments.  I am sweating, I am fearful of absolute collapse, I am about to cry. But then I force myself to think of all the hard work I have put into this insane activity, the hours of practice through sickness and health, how good it feels to get to the other side. And then I also suddenly remember that I will be singled out and get lectured at by the instructor for being the ultimate wimp and all at once the cloud lifts. I am able to continue breathing through the heat, the sweat, the tears and I complete each posture with grace and aplomb.

Lesson Learned:  To endure the long of hours of grueling poker sessions - all the while keeping your mind sharp enough to make creative plays, gut wrenching decisions, basic calculations that are tough for the mathematically challenged like myself – you have to keep yourself in peak physical condition. The mental strength required for these sessions should not be underestimated and it is important to focus on building up your physical and mental stamina. 

So, to return to the title of this blog post, I’m not sure if Bikram Yoga helps me survive Poker or Poker helps me survive Bikram Yoga.  All I know is that I believe that both have made me travel the path of self-improvement and that’s the point of our journey in life.  I am nowhere close to having the level of discipline and focus that is shared by my superheroes, Aditya Sushant and Sharad Rao, but I am inspired by them and will now work harder to achieve my weight and poker goals.  Thank you, Aditya and Sharad, for being amazing and showing all of us that with hard work, dedication, and discipline, you can make your dreams come true. 

 

Maria Kirloskar

PokerBaazi Team PRO

Play on PokerBaazi.com, India's most trusted poker website.

The Vegas season is more than what every poker player dreams of. This time around, PokerBaazi.com bombarded us with one after another mega promotion, giving away Vegas trips in prizes. The best and the unique part about these promotions was that each and every category of players had a fair chance to take home a Vegas package. It all started with two concurrent promotions, The Vegas Challenge & Vegas VIP Race.

The Vegas Challenge had three exciting challenges a) Completing a stack challenge on 5/10 to 50/100 tables b) Getting 5 paid places in tournaments & c) playing 10K hands. It was surprizing to see the first Vegas package being booked in the first three days itself! Hats off to Prateek Mishra ‘pratmish’ for this amazing feat. Two other Vegas packages in this promotion were soon to follow. Rohit Begwani & Rony Chowdhury both showed that there can be a marathon on the poker tables as well. Apart from the top 3 who won Vegas packages worth 3 LAC each, there were 7 more prizes including two iPhones & five 50K Bankrolls. I congratulate all these winners for completing all three challenges in such a short span.

The Vegas VIP Race, on the other hand, was for the high stakes players as the target involved generating 12 LAC VIP points. I was pleased to see Rahul Mittal, my fellow Bangalorean, & Abhigya Sagar, both noted players in the circuit, completing the target & taking away Vegas packages worth 4 LAC each. The next three prizes in this race are still open and I can see a those getting filled up soon.

With 5 Vegas packages being won in the first half of the month, PokerBaazi came up with another big promotion, adding 3 more Vegas packages worth 3 LAC each. The Vegas Tournament Challenge, as the name suggests, is a special challenge where you have to put your tournament skills to use and win two 2 LAC GTD Vegas Special tournaments happening every day at 10.30 PM from 17th to 30th April. If you are reading this & think this is something out of this world and not achievable, you would be amazed to know that not just one but two Baazigars have already achieved this. I must congratulate Akshay Nasa ‘sherlock52’ & Amit Singh ‘pokman875’ for proving what Baazigars are capable of. You also have to generate 1 LAC VIP points in the Vegas Tournament Challenge to win a Vegas package.

You can play each Vegas Special for free using deposit code VEGAS2L. Details are available here.

All in all, I can see a great Vegas trip coming up this summer. Vegas, beware!

There are 6 more Vegas Special tournaments to go. This is going to be as exciting as it can be. Join in with me and let’s take this challenge.

If played right, poker can give you a lifetime guarantee of winnings and it is undeniably profitable as it is a player vs player game. Deciding to play poker for a living is a big decision and should not be taken hastily. There are many stories of players making the leap to pro in an instant decision and regretting it later. Poker games online is a tough and grueling sport.

Questions to consider before deciding-

a) Do you really want this?

b) Do you really want to sacrifice that secured career for this?

c) Are you ready to devote your entire life playing poker?

d) Will you stay updated to poker by studying every day?

Factors you need to ruminate before you plan to become a pro-

There are no friends- Even if you don’t like your job, you still have co-workers to get you through the day but in poker, there are no friends but only enemies. You cannot share your strategies with them, forget about trusting them to support you. That’s why poker is a zero sum game.

You may go broke- All it takes is to undergo tilt and you are ready to lose everything in front of your eyes. In your regular job, there is certainty of getting fixed amount every month, which is definitely not the case in poker. In poker, if you don’t win, you don’t get paid.

Passive life- Playing poker professionally can make your life passive as most of the time, you are just going to be sitting in front of the computer playing poker. This will make you anti-social and can cause you to become somewhat of a loner.

No monthly fixed income- Before you make this decision, you will have to understand that you will no longer have a fixed cash coming into your account every month.

You are the best candidate to become a pro if –

You can let go of a previous bad play and sleep peacefully

If you are the one who keeps talking about your bad beats and still cannot accept your break that your flush on the turn got outdrawn by your opponent, then you should definitely give a second thought to your decision.

You know when to walk away

Remember, it is not a war and you are not a soldier. The Pros know when to quit while the gamblers get stuck in the vicious cycle of betting.

You have a safe bankroll

It is really important to have a sufficient bankroll to keep you afloat when your game is moving downstream. The bankroll you have eventually decided the stakes you will be playing and it will help you identify the blinds you are most likely to find yourself playing and the maximum buy-ins.

You keep a notebook

Pro means professional and the first step which strides toward professionalism is to keep a tab on your poker performance on a regular basis. Compare your winnings with the losses to understand the sound case.

You have money goals

Poker is not a regular job but you will still need to pay your rent, installments, shopping bills and traveling expenses etc. You need to consider the target amount of cash that you need to pay your expenses.

You love poker from the heart

If you are becoming a pro just because you hate your present job, then it is the worst decision you can take. Poker can be crueler than your present job and being unemployed is so much worse than in a bad job.

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