Wednesday, February 11, 2009


My friend Eric emailed me a question about motivation that is a good blog topic. Basically what he asked is how do I stay motivated? He's going through a period where he doesn't feel like playing, gets distracted by something else, and then ends up not putting in the hands he needs to.

I've been through what Eric's going through more times than I can remember. In fact, a big reason I've decided to pursue SuperNova Elite and write this blog is to stay motivated and focused on playing poker.

It's really easy to start playing poker on auto-pilot and feel like you're just going through the motions. This is especially true if you're a host and have scheduled hours. You're then forced to play whether you want to or not and if you don't want to, there's an increased chance that you won't put all your effort and energy in it. If you're not a host with scheduled hours, then you might just stop playing altogether and find it very difficult to muster up the incentive to play. Unlike most jobs, if you're working at a substandard level or putting in minimal effort, you don't get paid. In fact, you pay other people.

So to the question of how to stay motivated. I think you need to first figure out what motivates you. Is it money, the challenge, the love of the game, the desire to be the best, etc. Once you've figured out what motivates you, then you need to set some specific goals that pertain to your motivation.

For example, let's say money is your primary goal. You want to make $4,000 a week on average. Instead of setting a goal of winning $4,000 every week, since that's impossible, set a goal of playing X amount of hands every week. Let's say you look through Hold-Em Manager or Poker Tracker and determine you make 40 cents per hand on average. Well to make 4K a week, you need to play 10K hands. That's rougly 1500 hands a day so maybe you want an additional shorter-term of goal of playing 1500 hands per day. You can set these goals and not even worry about whether you're actually making 4K a week because you know in the long-termit will average out to 4K a week. You could even set another goal to never worry about short-term fluctuations or how much you're winning or losing in a given week.

For me, it's a little bit of everything that keeps me motivated. I love to play poker, I want to win money, I want to be the best I can be, and I want to continue improving. Acheiving SuperNova Elite is my long term goal for this year. Becoming SNE will guarantee that I win a lot of money. I have a short-term goal of earning at least 3,000 VPPS per day which puts me ahead of SNE pace. I also have a short-term goal of watching at least 2 videos on StoxPoker or Cardrunners each week. These videos always give me ideas and help me improve my game.

Another goal I have is to look for ways to improve my own game by analyzing data in Hold-Em Manager. This can be a bit of work, but I always find myself more motivated to play after I've looked at data and decided to implement changes.

You've probably read or heard this a hundred times (I have) but write down your goals. I don't know exactly why writing down goals works so well but it does. Once I write something down that I need to do, it's done. Maybe not done at that moment but it will get done. If I don't write it down and just keep in my head, maybe I'll do it, maybe I won't.

So, that pretty much it. To summarize:

Figure out what motivates you
Set specific goals that pertain to your motivations (short, medium, and long term)
Write them down


  1. thanks for the thoughtful response tony. i'm actually going to try the hands per week goal. money is the main reason i play poker nowadays, i'm going to go through my last 6-12 months, see how much i make per hand to see how many hands i'll need to make ~ $3000/week. baby steps for now.

    maybe i'll email you my result every week so you can chastise me if i slack off. name calling and overall belittlement might be all the motivation i need.

    i like the goal of watching 2 vids per week as well. maybe i'll give that a try and perhaps we can discuss some of them if anything piques our interest. that is if you have a few minutes in between the grind.

  2. Haha, well you're welcome and glad I can help.

    One idea too is to make a bet with someone, maybe another host, on who can play more hands over a time period. I did that with George for about a month and it really motivated to me to play.

    Any time you want to discuss a video, just email me. I try to watch all the Bryce, Dougnutz, KPR, and Schneids videos.

  3. My graduate courses (MBA) would agree with your explanation. A set of goals is a key element to a person's motivation because it gives the person a reason to thrive. No reason to pursue will not have any motivation.

  4. Makes sense to me. And I'm glad somebody in the family is educated :)