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Mental Game & Life Strategy

The ability to set goals and the discipline it takes to achieve those goals without letting the rest of your life suffer are two of the most important things you need to master in order to improve as a poker player and begin getting serious about becoming a pro. One of the best parts of playing poker is getting out into the real world, playing in person, meeting new people and going on crazy adventures. This is also the riskiest part of the game because it takes you away from your comfort zone, and leaves you playing without your safety net. The solid footing of any healthy lifestyle depends balance and control, and a thriving poker lifestyle is no exception. Set realistic goals and learn to govern yourself so that you’re always working towards achieving your goals without letting the other, more glamorous things hinder your success. 

Table strategy is great to know, but you'll also need to understand how to manage yourself off the table to maximize your edge - and here’s where things get personal. I invite you to keep up-to date on my life and times as a poker player, and learn from my experiences so that you can learn from my triumphs and avoid my mistakes.  Any pro poker player will tell you your  mind is your most powerful weapon. Sharpen it, nurture it, rest it and give it peace so you can take to the tables - and your life - with killer confidence. 

Best Poker Hands of 2014

Evan Jarvis

Any poker player worth his weight in chips will tell you that some of the best lessons come not only from examining your hits and misses, but also from looking at the triumphs and flops of other poker players - especially generally good poker players. (Even the pros make mistakes, right?) It's with the aim to educate (and amuse) in mind that we're going to examine the best poker hands of 2014 - and by extension, also the worst poker hands of 2014. After all, one player's treasure is ultimately another player's trash. Watch, grasshoppers, and learn.  

Van Hoof vs Larrabe - WSOP ME Final Table

The power dynamic here sees some major flux as the streets unfold. Just in case you need further proof that perceived confidence can win out over actual hand strength, Van Hoof delivers as he turns a made hand into a bluff when pressure is at the max. I think I actually stopped breathing at the end. This is how it's done!

Panka vs Nielsen - EPT Barcelona

The pain is palpable at the EPT as Panka continues one hot run and doubles up through Neilsen. I think the commentator says it best, "It's OK if you want to laugh." Ouch.

Drinan vs Katz - Big One for One Drop

As far as bad beats go, this AA vs. AA one drop is one of the best (or worst) of last year. Watch as Connor Drinan unwittingly snags the not-so-coveted title of 'Most Famous Loser of All Time.' (And guess what? He revealed in a Gripsed exclusive that he's OK with that, so while he may the most famous loser of all time, he certainly isn't the most famous sore loser of all time. Props, man. This, my friends, is proof that you can keep it real and keep it classy.)

Busquet vs Reichardt - EPT Barcelona Super High Roller

Here's a resurrection of biblical proportions for you. Busquet has A2 vs. KK with less than 1% on the flop, runner-runner to make a better full house. 

Seiver vs Reinkemeier - Big One for One Drop

Tobias Reinkemeier folds AA one drop after Scott Seiver pushes all-in for $6,825,000 with K T. The spirited manipulation in the table talk is definitely one of the most interesting parts of this clip. Seiver is totally bad-ass in his bogus confidence. 

Ronnie Bardah vs Miss Finland - PokerStars Shark Cage

Faint hearts never won fair ladies, and as Ronnie Bardah illustrates, they also never won against fair ladies. It’s actually painful to watch Bardah fold trips to Miss Finland and get bluffed big time. Perhaps worst of all, it's the first hand, and she limped! Come on, Ronnie! You're better than that! Use your head, man - the right head!

Ivey vs Haxton - Aussie Millions Super High Roller

Ivey folds a pair, gutshot and the nut flush draw when pitted again Ike at the Aussie Millions SHR bubble. Let me take this opportunity to impart a little wisdom: sometimes, the odds just don't matter. That's the tournament dimension of poker for you. It is complex, and it can be a pain - that is, if you don't figure out how to make it work for you (which I cover in Chapter 4 of my Cash Game Crash Course Book).

Notkin vs Miller vs Jacques vs Rivers - PokerStars Canada Cup

WTF?! There's almost nothing else I can say. This is a crazy 4-way poker hand that crowns the 2014 Canada Cup. Everyone is all-in before ANY streets of action. (This is an easy fold for the last player to guarantee a lot of pay jumps, and to get to potentially play heads-up where he should be a favourite.)

Kitai vs Ruberto - WSOP Event #15

Kitai calls with Queen high for 3 streets. I heard somewhere that his game was based on tells, and if this is indeed true, this hand makes sense. Otherwise, it’s pretty inexplicable if not a little miraculous...

Muur vs McDonald - PCA Main Event Final Table

ICM suicide almost happens when Madis Muur 5 bet folds pocket Queens against Mike McDonald's AK.

Griffin Benger vs Mike Tindall - PokerStars Shark Cage Finale

And the best man wins! Watch as Griffin flips for a million in a Shark Cage event. Mike's nervous laughter says it all: when you're playing winner takes all, second place really is the first loser. (Start around 43 minutes to see the action.)

Jacobson vs Stephensen - WSOP ME Final Hand

The final hand of 2014's WSOP Main Event saw Martin Jacobson and Felix Stephensen pitted head-to-head with Jacobson holding TT with a 10 on the flop to win $10 million. That's a lot of 10's. The excitement for Jacobson is contagious (just try to suppress a smile) - and he deserves it. His overall play in this event was outstanding. 

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment with your favourite poker hand from 2014!