Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Motivation, Intelligence, Reliability and Poker

Still on vacation while writing this… this post was inspired by a conversation with a software development manager on a live-aboard dive boat on the great barrier reef. We discussed ideal employees, with a corporate slant, with the conclusion that smart, motivated and reliable people were the best… though in real life you usually have to settle for any 2 of these qualities. This got me thinking about whether this same idea could be related to online poker.The categories only loosely fit, however if we treat them in their broad sense then it is easy to see the link with success on the virtual felt. Motivation: To learn, to move up… the will to win. Intelligence: Math, situations, understanding the core concepts and how / when to apply them. Reliability: An individual’s willingness to put in the hours, even when they do not feel like it. Anyone with all 3 has the ingredients to succeed (though to be fair, many who do can and will be successful in many areas of life and may well find poker dull after a while). What about the combinations of 2? Can someone with above average intelligence and motivation, with low reliability make it in the online poker world?

I’ll go through the combinations of 2 and give my thoughts.

High Motivation + Intelligence / Low Reliability: This describes many new players who are smart… for example the crowd who discover online poker while at university each year. With high initial motivation and intelligence a certain percentage will enjoy some success. Low reliability is the killer here. Good players have the experience to match their intellectual understanding of the game… I will argue that this combination does not work well in the long term, though it can be a fun ride and may supply some extra beer money along the way.

High Intelligence + Reliability / Low Motivation: Here we are describing someone who does not love online poker, does not see this as a ‘fun’ pastime at all… yet is aware of the potential to grind out some money. Without the motivation to learn and improve, playing a ‘system’ is the default choice for making that cash. An intelligent individual has many to choose from (for example the $16 Per Hour SNG Blueprint fits this category - though I prefer to think of it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things!!). These types will multi-table, grind all day to pay the bills… though with no love for the game will often end up with self-loathing after a while. Again, I’ll vote that this combination does not work for long-term online poker success.

High Reliability + Motivation / Low Intelligence: Next someone who loves poker, is happy to play for hours… yet is not strong on math or hand reading or any of the skills involving situational awareness. Can this person succeed long term? Well, no – for me you need the basics in place to avoid losing what can be a lot of money. Sure, someone could get a system in place (for example short-stacking) and grind a bankroll… however with the motivation to succeed that individual would be bored with this quickly. Of course, there are many shades of ‘low intelligence’, we might even count a math-expert who regularly tilted in this category (lower emotional control)… though that is really a separate debate.

Summing up… Like those ideal employees… it is the combination of these factors which makes for successful online poker players. We all have some areas which are stronger than others. Why not take 5 minutes to review where you stand and come up with a plan for working on any areas which lag?

GL at the tables, Mark

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