Four years ago Liv Boree won the 2010 European Poker Tour, and pocketed a life changing sum of £1.1 million. Liv recently talked at an international entrepreneurship conference. Are professional poker players entrepreneurs? Well, there are many similarities between running a successful business and playing a game of skill and risk.
First you need to be clearly focused and not allow yourself to be distracted. Managing emotions is critical, in business emotional intelligence will help you to negotiate and manage people effectively, in poker it will help you to avoid showing stress and giving away your position.
In both disciplines there is no such thing as overnight success. Both need a business idea and a strategy, and to work hard on it. Patience, passion and perseverance are universal virtues for anyone who wants to make ‘something out of nothing.’ If your strategy doesn’t work, then you have to find new ways to reinvent yourself or your business.
Liv’s big win led to a lot of media attention. It helped that she was a 25 year old astrophysics graduate from Kent, with a first-class degree and a modelling contract. And while Liv’s intellectual training certainly helps her to be more analytical and think logically, more recently she has discovered that sharp intelligence isn’t enough.
In 2013 Liv had her worst poker year by far — although she played many live tournaments, she didn’t cash for six months. It was a real wake-up call. She reached out for help and decided to meet someone to get a bit of advice. “After we chatted, he told me I have these unbelievably high expectations for myself and feel in my head like I have all this pressure coming from so many directions even when I actually don’t,” she confessed in her blog. “One thing I’ve learned lately is to just stay optimistic; keep working hard and set goals, but at the same time, don’t apply excessive pressure and excessive expectation because it will definitely drag you down,” she says. “Staying more mindful is the key.”
One of the biggest dangers for players under excessive pressure is tilt. In poker terms it means emotional imbalance which results in sloppy playing and losing money. Very often underrated, emotional control is crucial in all cerebral disciplines, including business.
“The best way to combat tilt is to simply recognise it and as odd as it may sound, observe it as much as possible when you feel it rising. What does it do to your breathing? Heart rate? Are you sweating? What thoughts/images are in your head? Once you start observing it as an outsider it’ll quickly lose its power over you,” says Liv.
Liv’s analytical approach to dealing with her own tilt or stress is useful for anyone who’s income depends on their emotions. If you need to make sales, you need to be on top of your emotions.
Here is Liv’s 3-step plan:
Get to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Unplug from your phone and electronic devices and keep them well away from your bedroom.
Find a way of switching off and becoming more mindful. Liv visits a yoga ashram retreat, with 2-hours yoga and meditation every morning.
3. Banish tilt
Analyse the nature of what is making your emotions imbalanced, or ’tilt’, and make a plan to combat it.
What are the takeaways from Liv’s experience? Firstly, whenever you face obstacles, don’t stop moving towards your goals. Reach out for help, get a mentor and analyse the situation. There’s a solution for any problem. Secondly, do not be afraid to try out new things and unconventional approaches. It gives you an opportunity to look at the problem from a different angle, and find creative solutions. Thirdly, and the most important, get used to losing, but keep your aim on winning, not avoiding losing. You move towards what’s uppermost in your mind, so make sure that your mind is focused on where you want to go.
Author: Merike Taal is a journalist. She worked as a reporter and editor for Baltic News Service (BNS), the biggest newsagency in the Baltics, and also for the Estonian government as a press advisor. After 4 years in marketing and sales, she now returns to her passion; writing, as a blogger. Merike likes to write about things that matter, make a difference and touch peoples’ minds. Besides writing and exploring new ideas, she is a dedicated runner.