Resolutions for low-stakes poker pro

February 04, 2017, Brent Philbin  

Yes, I realize it’s February, so it’s a little late to be talking about resolutions, but I thought it was a great way to remind low-stakes pros about some things we all too easily forget. Many of these are my resolutions, too.

KEEP BANKROLL AND LIFE FUNDS SEPARATE: Every year I need a little reminder of this as funds become co-mingled as the year progresses. The best system I found was having a deposit box at my local casino and only removing funds that were supposed to be removed. Any method works, but it’s extremely important you don’t overextend your spending with your bankroll, or vice versa.

FUND IRA WITH THE MAXIMUM: There’s no pension for a poker player; you’ll only have what you’ve saved for yourself. Putting $100 per week into an IRA will get you $5,200 of the $5,500 maximum allowed. Prioritize this is highly as you can; even some of the most successful pros I know don’t have this savings. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s extremely important.

ELIMINATE GAMBLING WITHOUT AN EDGE: This means no more blasting away at Ultimate Texas Hold’em after a losing session; no betting sports just to “make it interesting” and no parlaying hard eights at the craps table. Since we’re predisposed to long hours of gambling, it’s easy to find yourself playing Pai Gow for six hours. You’re lighting money on fire doing these things.

CONTINUE TO LEARN: It’s so easy to become complacent in your ability to win at a certain rate and feel as if you have all the knowledge and tools necessary to continue to win. It’s extremely important to keep learning new concepts, even if they’re loosely related to poker. Reading Ante Up is a great start. If you’d like some homework, Google “Dunning Kruger Effect” and think about how that could apply to the poker you play and the poker those around you play.

IMPROVE HEALTH: This is a whole other can of worms, but as it’s related to poker, give yourself a couple of easily achievable goals. Your mind will improve along with your overall health. Perhaps you resolve to do jumping jacks when you wake up, take the stairs rather than the escalator to the poker room or something more drastic such as lose 100 pounds. Anything is better than nothing and you will see the results on your bottom line.

Just like your normal New Year’s Resolutions, make sure your poker resolutions are achievable, because if the task is too daunting you might find yourself making excuses.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at Brent.Philbin@gmail.com.