No place for jealousy
Like some of you, I'm lucky to be surrounded by a group of close friends who are also really good poker players. A lot of us started out together and over the years we've helped each other learn and grow as professionals. Right now, some of my friends are on the sickest heaters of their lives, but a few others have been on a downswing and I've noticed a common thread among the latter group. While they bemoan their losing streaks and wonder aloud why poker is so unfair, there's also an undercurrent of jealousy.
"Why is he making so much money and I'm not? I guess I'll never be good as him because I never get results like that!"
It's quite sad to see some of these guys feeling so jealous of friends they've had since they were teenagers. I can hear the spite in their voices right through the phone. It's a pretty familiar feeling for me because I dealt with these same emotions myself when I had a dry run a couple of years ago. I play MTTs so it's really easy to have a few bad months or even a bad year. And in this particular instance I really let it get to me. I saw players I'd coached or advised make these really big scores while I couldn't catch a break. I thought it was so deeply unfair. After going so long without results, I started to lose some passion for the game and consequently didn't put in as much work as I had before. I think this happens to a lot of players when they downswing--without results to supply motivation, they put in less volume, spend less time studying, and start getting a bit lazy.
I managed to get out of that mindset because I found that it was really just a waste of time. Rather than being jealous of my peers making hundreds of thousands of dollars, I learned to draw inspiration from their accomplishments. Just because you started out together with someone doesn't mean you'll always get the same results.
I realized I should be thankful to have such talented players in my life to talk through hands and help me with my game. Instead of letting it drive me crazy that the same people I was grinding and traveling with were winning these huge sums of money while I was losing, I turned it around and used it as motivation.
When my friends started coming to me with these same feelings, I shared my experiences and tried to pass down what I'd learned the best I could. I told them to lean on the best resource they have to improve their game--our group of friends. Instead of harboring jealous feelings against friends, use them as a good example. Take a look at their work ethic and ask yourself, "Am I really working as hard as I can?" These guys who are winning left and right may be putting in more hours than you know about.
Ego can also be damaging. It blinds people and conquering it is really important. Ego stops players from noticing the mistakes they're making and in the middle of a downswing, ego can stop you from actually using that bad run to work on your game. As a professional poker player, it's tricky because while you need to mind your ego, you also have to maintain a certain level of confidence to be successful. I fought this battle myself in the recent SCOOP. I decided that rather than go crazy and play as many events as possible in the hopes of making a big score, I only played when I really wanted to. However, that doesn't mean I sat around watching TV when I wasn't in the mood for a SCOOP event. I'd find one of my poker friends who was free that day and sat down with him to look over the past week of tournaments I played to see what I did wrong. By understanding my mistakes, my confidence actually increased, and by acknowledging I'd made them, I kept my ego in check.
Whether you're having the best year of your career or are barely breaking even, there is always room to improve. Tap into the incredible resources that surround you--your own peers--and draw inspiration from their success. Jealousy won't win tournaments for you, but humility goes a long way.
Bryan Huang is a member of Team PokerStars Pro