In part 1 we talked about setting direct monetary goals in poker, and why that’s a bad idea. I would be remiss to leave you without some ideas for what sort of goals are good goals to set, so that’s exactly what we’ll discuss here in part 2.
I’m a proponent of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. When dealing in poker related goals, it’s also important to choose goals that will encourage you to perform at your peak as often as possible, not detract from optimal play like the monetary goal we discussed in part 1 is apt to do.
So with that being said, what are some good goals one might set?
These can take many formats, and be tailored to your learning style. You can set a goal for reading poker books, or watching videos, or studying lessons. You can set goals for self-review of your game and hands played (something many players are lacking in, but all strong students of the game do). You can set goals to learn one new concept a month, really study it and try to understand it with some depth. You can set a goal to find and work with a coach. There are many possibilities, some with a modest monetary investment (like poker books or some video based training sites), some with a larger monetary investment (like some of the higher stakes training sites, or private coaching), some with no monetary investment required (like reading/studying free material at places like the PokerStarsSchool, or doing self reviews of your games and hands). Whatever study related goals you choose to add in to the mix, make sure they follow the SMART format. This time investment is invaluable to growing your game, and will help you to not only improve over time, but also raise the level of your peak playing ability.
Volume based goals can be valuable as well, by keeping you focused on the task of actually putting into practice what you learn. Try to keep your goal flexible, as you often may need to adjust plans in the short term. For instance, a goal to play a minimum of 10K cash hands per month can be managed with flexibility. You can map out a schedule for playing that will accommodate study goals, personal goals outside of poker, down time, etc., and include the flexibility to adjust that mapping when things come up or life happens.
Self Correction Goals
Do you have any specific leaks you’d like to address? Perhaps a self-correction goal as I like to call it, is the answer. An example from personal experience that probably applies to a lot of players: I’ve found that when I’m sick, I play rather poorly. My energy is low, my decision making is hindered. Sessions when really under the weather tend to not go well for me. So why do it? For live players it’s an easier temptation to avoid, since you have to actually go out of the house somewhere, which no one likes to do when feeling awful. But for online players, the poker client is just a couple clicks away. I learned the hard way to avoid playing while not feeling up to par. A self correction goal such as “any time I am sick, I will not play poker for money” is simple and easy to execute. And the desire to achieve your long term goals will help you stick to it. Another example might be to help curb tilt. When I feel tilt coming on, I will walk away from the table if possible, or failing that I’ll shut my eyes and count to 10, taking a slow deep breath with each one. Whatever it takes, this will help you be more conscious of tilt feelings, as well as proactive about dealing with them. If tilt is a big issue for you, perhaps some study time around the mental game of poker would be a nice coordinating goal.
They key with these goals is they are all things that are within your control, and not dependent on external factors to successfully achieve. If you can make goals like this, and consistently achieve them, your overall poker game and your results will be set up to flourish.