Three lessons poker taught me about sports betting

Before sports betting, I was in the poker world. I left the industry in 2019 and haven’t really looked back. Until recently. I had some free time on a trip to Las Vegas in December, so I stopped by the Wynn Poker Room to play an easy $1/$3 cash game. I really enjoyed being back at the tables, socializing and getting involved. Some former colleagues saw that I was “back,” which led to an invite to the RunGood Poker Series tournament at the Graton Casino in Santa Rosa, California.

That was this week. I played two events, the Ambassador Bounty (I was one of the bounties) where I stormed into the tournament for about two hours. The other tournament was a $365 deep stack. Not only did I make Day 2, I finished 35th out of 374 players for $655.

Sure, it’s not life-changing money, but I’ve always been an advocate of the game because poker has been instrumental in my success at sports betting. In the end everything is relative. Both require discipline, bankroll management and a healthy risk balance.

However, being back at the tables this week led to some other lessons that could be beneficial as a sports bettor. Here’s what I learned playing tournament poker this week.

Balancing plates and/or removing plates from your load

The mistake I see most often in bettors is trying to handicap or bet on every available sport. In each week you have MLB, NBA, tennis, PGA, UFC, XFL and whatever other sports are happening at the same time. Since the goal is to make money from sports betting, it is natural to bet on all sports at the same time.

My experience this week: PGA has been hot for me lately. Between traveling and playing poker, I didn’t find the time to devote the necessary energy to handicap tennis. There were three ATP tournaments, all of which I would normally skip. However, since I wanted to stay sharp, I had to remove a plate. That record was tennis.

Why it matters: If you want to be good at something, do anything. If you want to be great at something, focus on one or two. After removing a plate from my load, I won a poker event and another PGA first-round leader. There’s no guarantee either would have happened if I added tennis to the mix.

Take a break from betting to pursue other interests

It’s that easy to engage in betting 12 months a year. Exercise is always in, which makes it extra easy to get disabled any day of the week. However, after the football season, that can be really taxing on the mind. Our brain is a muscle. It needs rest and recovery just like other parts of our body. As a bodybuilder, I don’t train seven days a week. I have two rest days to give my body time to heal and recover. The brain needs the same.

My experience this week: Playing poker was my thing that had nothing to do with sports betting. As mentioned, I was on hiatus from tennis, was only PGA disabled, and actually felt lighter than just doing that. It allowed my mental competitiveness to refocus and regroup. I didn’t really talk about sports at the tables. Instead, I got to know the players, who they were, what they did, where they lived, their interests, their history with the game, etc. I got to know people unrelated to their favorite sports team.

Why it matters: You may not think that taking a break from betting is necessary, but it is. Betting isn’t physically demanding like deadlifting, but think about it – you bet and bet and bet and all of a sudden you’re making mistakes, you’re chasing, your bankroll starts to go down, you get frustrated that you’re not winning or not winning as much as you have a few months ago. You start betting on other sports that you have never done before because you are looking for the next winner. It’s time for a break. Take a week off. Damn, take a month off. Go hiking, travel, catch up on your reading list, engage in hobbies that bring joy and energy into your life. Sports and sports betting will be around when you come back. I promise your brain will thank you.

Find your happiness

Ok, this might be really cheesy and sound simple on paper. However, many forget to do the simple things. For example, I hate running. For my cardio, you won’t catch me running. Why run if I don’t like it? Eliminate it. Boom. Life is already better.

My experience this week: Yes, it was about poker. Yes, I still produced PGA content. However, I made sure to do the things I love so as not to have a stressful week. These things lifted and captivated people. As much as I wanted to play poker and maybe win the big bucks, it was more about socializing, meeting new people and just going back to what we did before phones and technology – talk. Since I work from home, I don’t get to socialize that often. This was a great opportunity to get back to my personable self.

Why it matters: The less stress you have, the better your mood. This can all be related to how well betting can be going for you at the time. You never want your hobbies to feel like a heavy burden. When other parts of your life are chaotic and stressful, it can affect the decisions you make when betting. The better you are, the better decisions you will make. This is similar to Lesson 2, but there’s a difference between taking a break to prevent burnout and knowing when to stop altogether because it’s no longer fun. Betting should be fun. Do what you have to do to keep it that way.

Moral of the story: don’t try to do too much at once. Find balance and even take a break to keep your mind sharp. Take up hobbies unrelated to betting to keep your interest up. More poker is probably in my future. If you don’t gamble, I recommend trying it out. If you play we might see each other at the tables. Three lessons poker taught me about sports betting

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