Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to Kick Ass in Poker, Business and Life - 12 Simple Actions Steps

Kicking ass in poker, business and life
For over 3 years now I have lived in the country that is probably the most popular place on the planet for online professional poker players, Thailand.

This may actually be true as well for online professionals in general who represent a much, much larger amount of people. The Telegraph for instance recently had the top 4 places on earth to work remotely all in this country.

I spend most of my time in the "digital nomad capital of the world" northern city of Chiang Mai. Literally everybody that I meet here is a blogger, dropshipper, SEO, freelancer, Youtuber, programmer, online marketer, online poker player, app developer, affiliate marketer or Kindle publisher.

On the trendy west side of town it is not uncommon to see rows of young Westerners fixed behind Apple or Samsung laptops at any hour of the day at the ubiquitous coffee shops and co-working spaces.

Living the Dream?

However, this doesn't mean that all of them are "living the dream" by any means. In fact a lot of them work long hours and are taking advantage of the extremely low cost of living to bootstrap a fledgling online business or a micro stakes poker career.

But I have also had the opportunity to meet many other people here (both poker and non-poker) who are absolutely killing it online. Indeed, they could choose to live comfortably anywhere on earth that they want.

What has always struck me about many of these people is that they would very likely be winners at whatever they choose to do in life. They just happened to pick online poker or any of the multitude of other ways to make a living on the internet that I listed above.

In my opinion their success is firmly rooted in how they think. At the risk of turning this into a self-help motivational blog I am going to list a dozen ways below in which I believe that these dream chasers think and act differently from everybody else.

1. Positive Thinking

The way in which you view the world is incredibly important to how you live your life. 

Now I am not talking about some kind of pseudo science "law of attraction" woo woo stuff here. Nor am I talking about watching a motivational video on Youtube and getting all pumped up for 20 minutes. 

I am talking about developing a way of thinking where you expect good things to happen and you always try to look for the good in others first. 

If there is one thing that I have noticed most clearly among all of these successful online poker players and online professionals it is that you rarely hear a negative word ever come out of their mouth even during their darkest downswings.

Compare this to a large amount of poker players for instance who make it their mission to tell the whole world about how unlucky they are because they took a few bad beats in their last session. 

During times of adversity winners instead look for opportunities to grow and improve. They always look for the positive even in what appears to be a very negative situation.

2. They Never Give Up

This leads perfectly into point #2. They don't give up either. No matter how many times they get knocked down, they keep getting back up. 

How many people have you seen though who simply give up when they face a setback whether it is in poker, business or even something as simple as blogging?

According to data from Technorati as many as 95% of bloggers simply give up in the early going often due to a lack of readership. I know that this is true because my own list of my favorite blogs is an absolute graveyard of long since abandoned projects.

The thing is though, if you look at almost any popular blog on the internet today the biggest thing that stands out is their longevity and consistency.

Here are two great examples of that:


Both of the authors of these personal development blogs write tremendously useful stuff. However, the impeccable consistency of their publishing for years is a big part of the reason that they both enjoy very large audiences.

Case Study - My Own Blog (www.blackrain79.com)

The blog that you are reading right now has been active for 8 years.

For the first 4 years there was literally nobody reading this thing at all. Although to be fair I wasn't seeking any attention either. In fact I purposely did not even reveal my poker screen name for many years.

Fast forward to today though and this website receives over 500 unique visitors a day and there are thousands more on my newsletter.

This has led to countless opportunities and offers such as writing for major publications like Pokerlistings.com and my current position as a staff writer at PokerNews.com. It has also allowed me to self-publish two highly successful poker strategy ebooks. 

Now if blogging is your thing it definitely doesn't have to take you anywhere near this long to have some success with it. I literally made no effort at all to promote this blog or to even learn the most basic SEO techniques until the last year or two. 

The real point here is this:  None of this happened over night.

This biggest reason why my blog is successful today is because I simply kept hitting the publish button on a consistent basis when nearly everybody else just gave up.

3. Rock Solid Belief in Themselves

How do you keep getting back up when nothing is working out though? Well, it all begins with a deep belief in yourself and your goals.

This is something that a lot of people struggle with and I have as well. It can be really hard to believe in yourself and what you are doing when you are seeing no success at all after working hard for a really long time.

I have to be honest. I have "quit" poker countless times. I have also "quit" this blog countless times as well. But obviously I didn't really quit. I was just away for a few days or weeks licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself.

When you truly believe in yourself and what you are doing then you will pick yourself back up and keep going even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel and the haters are piling on.

Bet it all on yourself and work your tail off. Eventually the universe will get out of your way.

4. Tunnel Vision

One of the biggest things that I had to do to achieve my goals in poker and blogging specifically was to develop a laser like focus. Most importantly this means removing all of the time wasters.

You know exactly what I am talking about. Facebook, TV, video games, forums, Reddit, the news and so on.

Some people literally spend all of their free time sharing cat videos on Facebook and watching reality TV shows. Yet they wonder why they never get what they want in life!

If you want to achieve your goals in poker, business, fitness or relationships then it is necessary that you remove all of these time sinkholes and focus on doing the things that actually matter.

If you currently have a lot of time wasters in your life then I would suggest trying to remove just one of them for now. Just vow to stop doing it for one week.

Use that 5 minutes, 20 minutes or an hour each day that you just freed up to research a new online business, read an inspiring book, start a Youtube vlog channel or simply go for a light jog or walk around the neighborhood.

Ask yourself at the end of that week if your life is better off or worse off because of this decision. I think you already know what the answer will be.

5. Stop Worrying What Others Think

This is a big one for a lot of people.

  • "What will people think if I quit my job to pursue something that I actually want to do in life?" 
  • "What will people think when I hit the publish button, release my first book, start a new business or decide to travel the world?" 
  • "What if they say mean things behind my back?"

And on and on and on. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself why it really matters to you.

It is your life and you know way better than anyone else what is best for you. You are also the only one who determines your self-worth.

People are always going to be making judgements about you good, bad or indifferent. Indeed, as Aristotle pointed out, if you want to avoid criticism then:

"Say nothing, do nothing and be nothing."

There is really nothing that you can do about the judgements of others besides refusing to even get out of bed in the morning. Even then though, somebody will find a way to judge you for that.

It is a good idea to listen to the constructive criticism of family members, close friends and colleagues who you respect. But at the end of the day, you need to decide what is best for your life because you are the best judge of that.

And in fact, if you are really doing a good job of pursing your dreams then you will almost surely attract some dedicated haters. Go ahead and celebrate as this is a clear sign of success!

6. Remove Negative People

Removing negative people is another difficult thing to do but it is absolutely necessary to ensure your happiness and success in life and at the poker tables.

You have heard the saying many times before:

"You are who you surround yourself with."

If you surround yourself with people who complain about everything in life and never take any action on their goals, then you will very likely become just like them.

It is very important that you re-assess every relationship in your life (including family and long time friends) and ask yourself if that person is providing a positive influence on your life or at least not harming you.

The negative people who blame everybody else for their problems and complain about everything will absolutely suck the life blood out of you. Get these people out of your life as soon as possible!

If that is not practical or possible then maintain only the absolute minimum communication with them.

7. Small Steps Every Day

One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to just get started.

When I first went pro with poker many, many years ago I had built up to it for an entire year. I played for hours every single night after work.

Many nights I didn't want to. This was especially the case if I was in the midst of a bad downswing. It was so much easier to just turn on the hockey game or play the latest Call of Duty.

But I knew that these things would not get me any closer to achieving my goal of quitting my job and pursuing poker full time.

How I Became an Online Poker Pro:

So I simply made sure that I got a start every single night. You have probably heard the expression before that 90% of success is simply showing up.

So I did exactly that. I just showed up every single night.

Some nights I was still so tilted from the previous night that a single bad beat was enough to set me off and cause me to quit after 15 minutes.

But on most nights I would end up playing for several hours and you can probably guess the end result. At the end of that year I had achieved my bankroll and savings targets for becoming a poker pro.

I promptly quit my job. That was well over 8 years ago in April of 2007.

If you want to achieve a big goal then it is necessary that you learn to show up each day and take small steps. If that means that you only play 100 hands, write 100 words or only last 100 seconds on the treadmill, then so be it.

Just show up each day and get a start!

8. Start Early and Prioritize

The habit of waking up early is something that I only developed just over a year ago but it has completely changed my life.

The reason why waking up early is so effective (and why so many high achievers swear by it) is because this is the quietest time of the day when most other people are still sleeping. I am already on the grind at 5am or 6am getting my work done with no distractions.

But even more important than waking up early is prioritizing. The biggest thing that actually changed my life was this:

Learning how to consistently do the most important thing in my life first thing in the morning.

Developing this simple habit absolutely demolishes the problem of procrastination that holds so many people back. This allows you to set large goals and actually achieve them in time.

How to Accomplish Any Goal:

So in my case for instance. How do I manage to release a new blog post every week, write for several other publications, release Youtube videos, training site videos, publish a 500 page book and still maintain a consistent playing schedule all at the same time?

Well it's simple.

During the first hour of every day (often the first several hours actually) I am totally focused on completing the most important tasks in my life. Absolutely everything else can wait.

So I have often written 1000 words or played 1000 hands of poker before most people have even woken up.

Getting into a habit like this every single day will absolutely super charge your life and allow you to accomplish any goal that you want.

9. Make Healthy Living a Habit

This will sound cliche but how can you expect to be a high achiever at anything in life if you treat your body and mind like crap?

I don't think it is a coincidence that I see many of the most successful poker players and online professionals that I know at the gym every morning.

I know a lot of other guys who just scrape by here though as well. You will often find them at the bars chasing women until all hours of the night. They also eat garbage food and keep a terrible sleep schedule.

You probably don't need another lecture to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and get quality sleep. But I will say it anyways.

The reason why is because it works wonders. I actually refer to the gym as "my therapy" and I don't feel right if I don't lift some weights or at least hop on the treadmill for a bit each day. There is no better stress reliever that I have ever found than 200 pounds of iron.

Eating healthy also just feels normal to me from years of making this a habit. And that is really the entire message here:

Do anything consistently and eventually it will just become automatic to you.

Don't quit going to the gym or adopting a healthy diet after 2 or 3 weeks like everybody else. Give it an honest shot of at least a few months so that you start to see the real physical and mental benefits.

10. Practice Gratitude

I have been hearing about practicing gratitude from many different people who I look up to for quite awhile now. To the point where it simply got annoying.

Gratitude? Being thankful? That is something that we do once a year on Thanksgiving. Isn't that enough?

Well, I was recently listening to a podcast with the famous author and godfather of the digital nomad generation himself, Tim Ferriss. In it he mentioned something called a "Gratitude Journal."

This is something that you do first thing in the morning every day and it literally takes just 2 minutes. You simply write down 5 things that you are grateful for. He talks about it some more in this blog post.

So I Tried it Out Myself:

I bought a little journal and started doing this myself several months ago. It didn't change my life in any massive way. But what better way to start your day than to immediately think about 5 simple things that you are thankful for?

Some nights you may get a poor sleep or just wake up feeling lousy for whatever reason. But when you force yourself to start your day with a few positive thoughts it might propel your day in a different direction.

It is very likely that you are reading this blog post right now on an expensive computer or mobile device in a rich Western country. You already have it better than 90% of people in this world.

You probably also have 2 minutes to spare each morning when you wake up to remind yourself of this. Try it for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference for you.

11. Don't Compare Yourself With Others

We often see somebody else who has the success that we want in poker, business, relationships or fitness. It is so easy to ignore all of the hard work that they put in to achieve this though and make up a bunch of excuses for why we can't do the same.

"He is just luckier than I am"

So work harder than him and create your own luck.

"She doesn't have to support a family like I do"

So put the kids to bed at 9pm and work on your online business for the next 2 hours instead of turning on the TV or checking Facebook for the 5th time that day.

"I don't have rich parents to pay for my College like him"

Neither did I! So go get a part time job outside of school hours to pay for it.

"I don't know enough about X, Y or Z yet to start that blog"

Actually, you probably already know much more than you need to and you don't even realize it.

Stop Waiting For the Perfect Moment

You do not need to be the world's foremost expert on something in order to talk about it!

Even if you truly don't know much about a subject then just start the blog right now anyways and talk about your successes and failures along the way. People absolutely love that sort of thing.

This way you will build an audience and become an expert in the process. Later down the road you can then monetize your blog and have a successful online business as well.

My biggest influence in blogging by far is Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com and he is a perfect example of this approach. He still calls himself the "crash test dummy of online business" to this day. His audience is also insanely large and so is his revenue.

It is important not to compare yourself with others. It is also important to stop waiting until all of the stars align in order to finally take action. Believe me, you already know more than enough!

Play the hand that you were dealt and stop making excuses or putting it off until tomorrow. We only get so many tomorrows. Start now.

12. Chase YOUR Dreams and Goals

You should always have a deep passion for whatever it is that you are working towards. Do you know why many of the most successful poker players are almost always found at the tables playing?

It is because they truly love the game!

If you are just in it for the quick buck or because you want to quit your job, then you are in it for the wrong reasons and you will probably end up failing.

Your dreams and goals should be something that you would do even without the reward at the end. This is because the journey is actually the best part when you really love what you do.

You should blog because you truly love blogging. You should write a Kindle book because you truly love writing. You should start a vlog on Youtube because you truly love making videos.

Don't ever chase somebody else's dreams or goals. Go after what you are passionate about in life, consistently take action and success is bound to follow.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this article helped prove useful for those of you out there who are trying to achieve your goals in poker, business and life.

I want to finish with two things though.

Thing #1

You don't have to be a "digital nomad" and hang out in exotic Asian countries in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. Most of my friends back "home" in Canada just do the whole 9-5, get a wife, house and kids thing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. It's awesome in fact. If that is what makes you happy then by all means...go do that!

As I just mentioned, don't ever chase somebody else's dreams or goals.

Thing #2

I wrote this article for myself in many ways. A lot of it was honestly just me thinking out loud. I will probably refer to it several times again in the future.

Nobody is perfect. I certainly am not. And I need to be reminded on a regular basis of many of the things that I wrote in this article.

Sometimes I screw up my diet or miss a day or an entire week at the gym. Sometimes I let a negative comment or a downswing get to me. Sometimes I even lose faith in myself completely and allow negative thinking patterns to creep in for awhile.

Just make sure that you keep picking yourself up no matter what. We are all going to screw up, fail to achieve some goals and make a mess of things at times.

The really important thing is that you focus on the present and let the past be the past. As one of my biggest influences Eric Thomas is fond of saying:

"Make the rest of your life, the best of your life!"

Let me know in the comments below what strategies you use to achieve your goals in poker, business and in life.

Lastly, if you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter below!

How to get what you want in poker, business and life


  1. Good stuff. Would be interested in further blog posts about working online.

    1. Thanks Landlord. I will definitely write more on this in the future. This blog focuses on poker primarily but that is just one path to working online, and a very uncommon one at that.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for this Nathan. I remember that when the year began I started blogging again just to keep track of my progress as you suggested, not doing it everyday but I did find a way to keep it updated at least once a week. You posting every single week helps as well. Also the site www.tiltbook.com is full of nice people and helps a lot to talk to other poker players.

    To use your words, thanks for not making this another "law of attraction" woo woo crap (had a couple of laughs with this). Most of the things you talk here are very much true and I intend to refer to this post on the next couple of weeks when needed.

    1. Thank you Jorge and I have been meaning to check out tiltbook!

  4. Great article I love the idea of positive thinking and I truly believe it works. I have been trying to get the money together and leave my job for the last few months as all I want to do is play poker. Do you have any recommendations of online poker coaches as I feel it would really benefit my game?? Or are you still coaching yourself??

    Kind Regards,


    1. Thanks David,

      I don't coach anymore myself. If you are playing at low stakes then it might be better to invest in a training site or a fewer newer books instead. Quality coaching can get expensive and if you are trying to go pro then you want to keep as much in your bankroll as possible.

  5. This is the best blog I have read until now! I am impressed!!! CONGRATS!!!

  6. Meditation HELPS! (as a tool in reaching ur goals)...I guess the important part is EXECUTION!

    1. I agree about meditation. It is something that I want to learn more about and do more often. And totally agreed also that execution or taking action is really the key to everything.

  7. Awesome post man.

    It's been a few years since I've stepped away from poker but your blog has been one that I kept on my RSS feed.

    Really enjoyed this post as I'm a digital nomad who's working on my online entrepreneurship. I'm actually going to be in Chiang Mai in about 10 days. Hopefully be able to stay there for 3-4 months.

    It'd be pretty cool to meet up.

    1. Awesome man! I remember you for sure. Ya, send me an email at blackrain79@dragthebar.com and we'll go have a coffee when you get here.

    2. Nice! Sounds good man. I'll talk to you soon

  8. best blog you have written so far

    I to will refer to this very often

    thank you

  9. Thanks for your words BlackRain... it gets really really motivating at some point. Im usually just reading here but this is so good that I just needed to say thanks.

    1. Thank you BanZaY, I appreciate your support!

  10. Replies
    1. what stakes were you playing and what was your hourly when you first went pro in 2007?

  11. what stakes were you playing and what was your hourly when you first went pro in 2007?

    1. NL50 was my main game but I was rolled for NL100 and taking shots at it. I don't know what my hourly was but it was at least double, perhaps triple my entry level sales job at the time.

  12. Thank you BlackRain79, it was awesome. I will put in practice all the points.

    I have a doubt about point 4, I want to be a professional poker player but I spend one hour per day on playing some video games after making all of my tasks. Do you think that I need to remove it to achieve my goal ?.... this hour of play makes my relax from daily sessions.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Camilo,

      Glad you enjoyed! It's up to each person. I personally end up spending way too much time gaming if I allow that so I choose to remove them completely. If it is just something you do for a bit at the end of the day though then it is probably fine. Your call, you know better than me :)

  13. Hi Nathan ! Hope you're going well !

    I wanted to share something with you :
    I had just heard about a team of guys in the university of alberta , these guys had created a software ( Cepheus ) for solved the limit head up poker game ! Have you heard about it ? What kind of information do you think can we take from this and increase our skill in our game ( the no-limit ! ) .

    Just give you the link : http://poker.srv.ualberta.ca/

    1. Hey kash, I have heard about this but I don't know enough about it to really comment on it.

  14. Nice advice's, especially no 6.I recently discovered your blog and I find it great. Keep going !

  15. I just started reading your blog. All of your posts are good, but this one is fantastic. Keep living the dream

    1. Thank you very much! Glad you enjoy :)