A few months ago, I wrote that I was hoping to start playing billiards competitively again this year. So far, that hasn't happened. I've been so busy with poker I haven't had the time that I need to practice and get in shape. Competing at the highest levels of billiards is a pleasure and an honor for me. But I won't do it just to play and have everyone beat me. I want to go there to win, so I need to be ready to play again.
I approach poker the same way that I approach billiards. Even though they're different activities, in both it's very important that you be prepared. In poker, that preparation takes two forms: physical and psychological.
Like most poker players, I went to Las Vegas for the WSOP this year. When you're playing in big tournaments like the WSOP, you have to play four or five days for 12 hours each day. You need to have high levels of mental and physical stamina to make the right decision every time for 12 hours, day in and day out. That's probably why today the poker players with the best results tend to be young and in very good physical condition.
The second form of preparation common to poker and billiards is on the psychological side. You have to be focused to succeed in both activities. You have to be ready to take your chance in both sports because you don't know when that chance will come.
Poker and billiards both pit you against an opponent. Sometimes, even if the opponent is playing bad, if you are running bad, you can't do anything about it. That's why you have to be ready to take your chance when you have it. You have to be ready to take advantage, to maximize your profit if you have the chance. That requires a high level of concentration, especially when you repeatedly find yourself in bad situations or on a bad run, whether the game is billiards or poker.
Look at guys like Rafa Nadal and Ronaldo. I don't think it's so important if they're great poker players. They're going to improve. The reason why is because those guys are legends at maintaining the proper stamina and the most intense kind of focus. The poker community wins by having them around. We can learn from them and have the motivation to become like them.
Here in Romania PokerStars sponsors various sportsmen like moto-riders, and paragliders. And that's because poker and sports have so much in common. These guys are young and great at what they do. They may not have the same number of fans as Rafa or Ronaldo, but here in Romania a lot of people know about those guys because they're doing great things in their sports. Toma is famous for his results in the toughest adventure race in the world, the Red Bull X-Alps, and he won the admiration of tens of thousands. Alex and George are still young in their sport, but they are so determined to succeed, and very talented and promising. For sure they'll perform to the maximum.
And this is essential for both sport and poker: physical and mental conditioning. You have to remain patient and ready for your spots. Sometimes in poker you can play for three or four days and have no chance. But you have to be ready and maintain your focus anyway, just in case that chance does come. It's the same in billiard. You have to take the chance and make the chance when it presents itself, to play perfect when you have your opportunity. It only takes one goal, one split-second decision, one perfectly executed move to stagger your opponent.
Toni Judet is a member of Team PokerStars Pro