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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. 

What is "The Secret"?

Evan Jarvis

Knowing about the powerful ideology of The Secret isn’t enough to secure success. Just like buying a fitbit isn’t going to get you in shape. The Secret isn’t a living, breathing ideology - unless we use it. 

And this is what I had to do in 2012: take the theory out of the ether and put it to work in real life - including at the tables. I had it in my mind that to win the Main Event, I personally needed to be the one navigating the field, accumulating all the chips and standing center stage with the hardware and the cash. What I hadn’t realized is that there’s more than one way to win a poker tournament, and that perhaps my skill-set was better served in another role - at least at that moment in time.  

You see, while my poker game was in a better place than it had ever been, my mental game and my understanding of other people - what makes them tick, what motivates them, what keeps them in the positive state which yields close to unlimited energy - that part of me was in an even better place. And this is why I needed rest, recover and to disconnect from online poker leading up to the WSOP: I needed all my creative resources available to visualize and realize how I could be of best service to myself, and my team. 

And in case you aren’t aware, Greg Merson – my roommate at the time - went on to win the $10k 6-max that summer, exactly as he had desired. He also went on to win the Main Event, an $8.5 Million score of which I had a 2% share.

Would Greg Merson have gone on to win the Main Event if I hadn’t implanted into my mind and his that this was the most important thing to me?

I can’t say for sure. But one thing I do know about life is that every little thought, every decision and action makes a difference in the big picture, and that all the subtle things are what shape the eventual outcome. The devil’s in the details, as the saying goes, and this time around, we had the details right.

When I achieved my own victory in that Main Event that year, it almost felt like karmic gratitude from Greg. I had made a lot of changes and gone through a lot of tough experiences in my mission to accommodate his arrival to Canada. I wanted to make his stay as enjoyable and profitable as possible. How could I not? It felt like the obvious thing to do. I loved this guy so much, and when you love someone you’ll do anything to make them happy.

In getting that score, and boosting my bankroll $170k, Greg changed my life forever.

He opened doors for me though this newfound financial freedom that I never could’ve got on my own. He gave me the opportunity to step away from “the grind” and from putting all my mental energy into making poker decisions so that resources could be freed up for more important things: more impactful things. Things that would help more people than just me. 

The feeling of being there front and center, watching my roommate and close friend achieve the ultimate victory is a feeling I can’t really describe in words. It wouldn’t do it justice. Here was someone who had sacrificed almost everything to become the best poker player he could be, and not only did he achieve his personal dream of winning the $10k 6-Max, but he also helped me achieve my dream of getting to share in experiencing an incredible victory. 

I saw that impossible wasn’t in fact that impossible: it was just unlikely.

I also had a nice run in the Main Event that year, making it to Day 5 and cashing for $40k. But one thing that I realized is that there’s more power in teams than there is in simply being an individual. I also learned that having goals which keep other people in mind leads to receiving greater support. When my goals were selfish, personal, only about me, the only person who had my best interest in mind was me. In shifting my goals to ones that include others, suddenly there were other people with my best interest in mind, because they realize that when they look out for me, that I’d look out for them too. 

I also learned that so much more is possible when working as a group, and that’s why I am here, still doing what I do. That’s why I’ve said that often, the results you wanted will come in a form that you never could’ve imagined when you set out on your journey.

And the reason for this phenomenon is simple: we don’t know what we actually want.

What it looks like. What it feels like. We can’t see the end picture - the bigger picture - from our vantage. We can’t even comprehend it is an option. But The Secret allows you to see, feel and wholly experience the beauty in the breakdown: of what you thought was true, both about yourself and the world. It gives you unprecedented vision, and that vision is what is going to guide you in achieving your dreams.

In fact, many poker pros have realized the virtues of The Secret, including Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and - I suspect - Phil Ivey. You see, though I'm not 100% sure Ivey uses The Secret, I am 100% sure that when I stayed at his apartment in Macau in 2013, The Secret was the only book in the apartment. Deductive reasoning, right?

But these guys aside, the speed at which the power of The Secret manifested itself in my life is what really blew me away. Here I was - only six months after discovering the tapes - and I’d already received exactly what it was that I desired. I received it because I believed in the lessons that I was taught, in the laws of the universe, and because I went all-in on making them happen and listening to my intuition rather than letting my ego-mind (the one that likes to think it’s all-knowing) call the shots. There are certain times when the plan your mind creates is not the best path to your destination because it’s missing out on a lot of things: feeling, instinct, love, and the power of unity (just to name a few).

But I slipped up: I had applied The Secret, but I hadn’t taken to heart that (as I’ve said and since learned) I may have my wish granted in ways other than I’d thought. I was still hung up on the fact that I thought I personally needed to win the Main Event, and that Gregy’s victory was to simply demonstrate to me that this extremely unlikely feat was in fact possible. So began the most intense, immersive experience into the world of tournament poker I’ve ever known – and I’m going to get into the equally gory and glorious details of that experience next week, so stay tuned!

Read More about My Story with Greg Merson!