In this blog post I’m going to share some best practices for how to set poker goals and put actionable plans in place to help you achieve your goals.
But first, a quick story of how this came about.
Last month at Conscious Poker, we launched our Alec’s Academy program and received over 500 applications: Alec’s Academy is the ultimate business course engineered to help people turn poker into either a profitable side hustle or a full-time endeavor.
My team and I diligently went through the applicants and narrowed down the candidates, some of whom I spoke with personally to discuss their individual goals to ensure we’re a good fit.
Although it’s energy intensive, I love consulting. Not only is it rewarding, but it helps me get a clear understanding of the common struggles people face, and after doing this for many years, one begins to notice the threads.
The first thing I aim to understand during my one-on-one sessions is peoples’ motivation for playing poker. It’s only when I know why someone plays that I can help them put a plan in place to get where they want to go.
In working with hundreds of clients over the years, I’ve found that people typically play poker for one of three primary reasons. Of course, one’s purpose for poker is personal and people may identify with multiple groups.
Play Poker for Profession
Group A are those who either play the game full-time or aspire to. Naturally this represents the minority of people who play poker worldwide but also those whom follow Conscious Poker.
Play Poker for Passion
Group B, the second largest group, are people who play simply because they love the game. While they would like to make money at poker, profit is primarily seen as a way of keeping score and measuring one’s progress. People in this group love the competitive aspect of the game, the social element and mental stimulation.
Play Poker for Profit
Group C, the majority of our clients, have some financial motivation connected to their poker playing. While they also are passionate about poker and do indeed love the game, reaching that next level means turning poker into a profitable side hustle.
Alec’s Academy was built for those in Group A and C. We help people create a sustainable and actionable business plan to help them make the amount they desire to live the life they want.
What I discovered through my years of consulting shocked me. Most poker players know which category they fall into yet few have a clear goal in mind.
During my initial consult with clients, we often dive into specifics to help them get clear on the big picture. Many admit to never having thought about how much they actually want to make playing poker per month.
Others throw out a wide range, saying something like, ‘somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 per month.’
$1,000 and $3,000. That’s a huge difference!
And here’s the point. Without a clearly defined goal, how is one ever expected to reach it?
The first thing we do in the Alec’s Academy program is help people reverse engineer to determine how much they need to make to live their ideal lifestyle, and then we build a business plan to help them achieve that goal.
Most people know exactly how much they make from their job, yet few know what they spend. We also encourage people to clearly outline their spending and priorities. This allows them to not only cut out the excess but channel their resources toward the areas which are most meaningful to them. (Substituting spending money on ‘having’ things with ‘doing’ things is a common theme.)
Once they go through the lesson plan and exercises to clarify their expenditures, they then map out the cost of their ideal lifestyle. The gap between where they are right now and where they want to be is how much they should aspire to make playing poker.
And voila! They’re poker business plan has legs.
But you don’t have to wait for the next round of Alec’s Academy to get started on setting your poker goal and putting a plan in place. Here are 5 things you can do right now to work toward achieving your poker goals.
You can track every dollar you spend starting today. Doing this is an eye opener, and most find they can cut out 20% without much effort.
Imagine what that would do for your poker bankroll?
Take an hour and write out what your ideal lifestyle would look like. How much would it cost?
There are free worksheets available at AlecTorelli.com to help you with this.
Now that you know how much we need to make per month playing poker to achieve your goals, reverse engineer to figure out how many hands you need to play in order to make that money. You do this by calculating your win rate.
If you already keep poker records, simply look at how much you make per hour and then divide your poker goal by your hourly rate.
For example, if your goal is to make $2,000 per month playing poker and you make $20 per hour, then you know you need to play 100 hours of poker per month (or 25 hours per week) to achieve your goal.
Don’t keep records or not sure about your hourly rate? Start now so you have statistically significant data in the coming months.
For more on how to do this, here’s a blog post and video to help you.
The first step in creating your poker bankroll is to separate your poker and life roll.
Most people make the crucial mistake of mixing the two, and therefore have no idea how much they can afford to use for poker.
This is a huge problem, as all professional poker players will tell you one of the most crucial skillsets for long term success is strict bankroll management. You can be the best player in the world and still wind up broke if you don’t manage your money correctly.
You wouldn’t start a restaurant with no regard for your expenses or how much money you’re going to make. We don’t do that in business, but why do so many people do it in poker?
Once you created your poker bankroll it’s important to physically segregate that money from your life roll so it can be fully utilized for poker. This will help you play your best and make the plays that you know are correct during the game. A properly structured bankroll eliminates fear of going broke or making moves , giving you the confidence to make long term profitable plays.
Next, determine what games are right for you. Use the poker variance calculator to better understand whether you’re more keen on cash games or tournaments, and figure out your win rate, hourly and the minimum bankroll needed to ensure you all but eliminate your risk of ruin.
If you do decide to play tournaments, be sure to map out your schedule so you can better plan for expenses and ensure you have the capital you need.
Here’s a recap of your 5-step action plan to achieve your poker goals.
Step 1: Clearly Define Your Poker Goal
Ex. I want to make $2,000 per month playing poker.
Step 2: Reverse Engineer Your Business Plan
Ex. In my $2/$5 NL cash game, I’ll need to make $25 per hour and play 80 hours a month which is 20 hours per week.
Step 3: Determine the Bankroll Required.
Ex. To be properly rolled for my specific $2/$5 cash game, I’ll need a minimum of $10,000.
Step 4: Segregate Your Finances
Ex. Move the entirety of your poker bankroll to a dedicated checking account that’s only used for poker. Further divide your bankroll between cash games, tournaments and expenses.
Step 5: Create an Action Plan
Ex. Determine the opportune times to play poker that will give you the highest hourly rate and also the times when you are fresh and alert. Develop your ideal poker routine. Plug into a community to help hold you accountable and with whom you can review hands and get your questions answered.
Adopt the habits, mindset and study practices of those whom you look up to in order to help you achieve your goals.
If you’d like help with this process, and me to personally oversee your poker journey, I invite you to apply to Join Alec’s Academy. Our latest cohort has sold out, but we plan on running another one soon. You can join the wait list and be the first to be notified when doors open.
I hope you enjoyed this post and wish you the best of luck on your poker journey.