Team PokerStars' New Year's Resolutions
Ushering in the arrival of a new year is a tradition as old as time itself, and with it comes the common cultural practice of resolving to make next year better than the last.
The ancient Babylonians, seeking a fresh start with another year ended, swore an oath to settle all debts and return anything borrowed to their neighbors. Romans offered promises of good works and charity to the deity Janus, God of new beginnings and the namesake of the modern month January. During the final feast of weeklong Christmas festivals, medieval knights took les voeux du paon -or the vows of the peacock - on which they pledged to uphold the virtues of chivalry and knighthood throughout the upcoming year.
And today, hundreds of millions around the globe continue the legacy by making New Year's resolutions of their own.
Of course, nobody is expected to take on knightly virtues overnight, and debts will still be there when day breaks - but the premise remains the same: making a personal promise to become a better person.
Along with champagne flutes, the ball drop, and the midnight kiss, resolutions are among the universal rituals used to celebrate the passage from one year to the next. Leaving aside the tired trope of challenging oneself to hit the gym or quit smoking - and inevitably failing by February - most New Year's resolutions are based on the pursuit of personal growth.
On the night of New Year's Eve, people know that the next morning will signal the start of something special. The opportunity to plan a yearlong path of self-improvement only presents itself so often, and when it does, resolutions provide a definable framework to build from. And, come on, let's face it, it's pretty fun trying to come up with resolutions that make it seem as if you've put loads of thought into them for the sake of besting your mate's resolutions.
For poker players, New Year's Day offers another form of reset, rolling back the annual recordkeeping to Day 1 and delivering a reprieve from any run-bad that might be accumulating. You can safely toss away those dubious PokerStars hand histories in hopes of a new batch filled with first place victories. With a full year's worth of time on the tables to review, professionals and recreational players alike tend to form their own poker resolutions - deciding whether or not to play at higher stakes, pursue the tournament circuit full-time, or even put the game on hold while pursuing other projects.
To that end, we asked a collection of Team PokerStars Pros two questions that get right to the heart of the matter:
- Can you reveal something that you learned about your poker game in 2016?
- Do you have any New Year's Resolutions that you will be following in 2017, on or off the poker tables?
Take a look below to see how some of your favorite Team Pros appraised their 2016 poker play, and how they're planning to pursue positive growth in 2017 and beyond:
"Not only did I learn absolutely nothing about poker in 2016, but I forgot some things I previously knew."
"Going forward, decisions will be based on quality of life for me and my partner before profitability."
Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier
"I learned that multi-tasking and multi-tabling is becoming increasingly difficult, considering the average level of play is becoming higher all the time."
"I really want to practice and work on my mental game, and give myself the tools to be one of the top players in the world in both poker and Hearthstone.
On another note, I want to run a marathon, and to learn a new language, most likely Japanese."
"I have 12 years in the poker industry. In 2016 I learned a lot about poker in general - strategy and development - but as far as my game is concerned, I believe it's the task of others to learn it. I do know it quite well after all this time :)"
"My New Year's resolutions are to enjoy playing poker and play my A-game as much as possible; to improve my game by studying as much as possible; to come back to full health after suffering a broken leg; and to take care of the people around me."
"Going into any game with confidence is crucial, the outcome of your game depends on believing in your abilities. When you have self-doubt, people can smell the fear and take advantage of it at the table."
"Enjoy each chapter life has in-store for you, sometimes it's not about the destination but the journey."
Fatima Moreira de Melo
"I've had some projects this year outside poker that made me realize how pure the world of poker really is. We play. The intentions are to outplay. We win or we lose. Simple and clear. Unlike a lot of situations in life where people play games but pretend not to."
"I want to follow a ketogenic diet this year, and I want to study at least one hour of poker a day."
"In 2016 I realized how nitty a poker player I am after watching the final table of the WSOP Main Event... Well played Qui!"
"My intentions are to win as much money as possible playing poker, so I can help a bunch of kids in my country of birth Guyana who are in need of heart surgeries."
Discipline. Study. Practice. Improve.
These ideas and actions form the common thread throughout all of our Team Pro resolutions - and for good reason. The game of poker remains in a state of perpetual evolution, so the styles and strategies that proved to be effective in 2016 are likely to be left behind in 2017 and beyond. Without the discipline to study and practice diligently, world class players simply won't improve in the ways the need to enjoy sustained success.
And this holds true across the entirety of the poker landscape, not only in the rarefied air of high-roller tournaments and high-stakes cash games. Whether you play pub poker for pints, weekly tournaments at the local cardroom, or fancy yourself a serious semi-pro - the principle of self-improvement applies across the board.
So with yet another year consigned to the history books, and a new year to look forward to, challenge yourself in the same ways our Team Pros have. Apply a critical eye to your poker progression, be honest about faults and flaws, and resolve to find fixes over the following year.
And there's no need to limit yourself to poker resolutions either. Work to support worthy charitable contributions like Victor Ramdin, learn a new language like Elky, or adjust your daily diet like Fatima Moreira de Melo. Whatever you do though, prioritizing self-improvement and striving to be a better person should remain your full focus as New Year's Day draws near.