By now those of you used to reading this blog know that I love to play poker. I have written a few posts comparing poker and blogging, including one of my favorite posts from December called 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker. I’m kicking this one up a notch and I’m going to talk about winning poker tournaments. Did I win a poker tournament? Stay tuned as we go through these 5 keys.
1. You have to prepare for the long haul.
Poker tournaments are long. If you’re in a very large one in person it could take days. The main World Series of Poker tournament takes more than a week, not including the final table. Small online poker tournaments will take a couple of hours to complete if you’re trying to win. Larger tournaments, 5,000 people or more, will take as many as 8 – 10 hours. You get breaks, but you have to maximize your time. If you’re lucky and have lots of money, you can extend your breaks some, but you’ll be losing money while you’re gone so you can’t be gone long.
With blogging, if you’re going to do it you need to be ready to do it for the long haul. I just hit 3 years in December for this blog, and just hit 6 years on my business blog. I still have plenty to say on those two blogs and my other two blogs, and I’m prepared for the long haul. I’ve taken breaks here and there but taking too long a break on your blog means you could be losing readers while you’re gone, so don’t stay away too long.
2. You have to know when and when not to take unwarranted risks.
In poker, sometimes you going along well when you decide to play a hand that’s somewhat questionable. Even if the cards look strong, you have to try to base your play on what your opponent is doing as well. You have to evaluate your risk based on whatever pattern you notice in that person and where your money level is at the time. Sometimes you have to let go of a pretty good hand that you’re unsure of to survive to play another hand and still have the power to do something great.
In blogging, you have to decide when it’s your obligation to take on a controversial subject and when you need to pull back and either leave something alone or tackle it in a much different way. Even if you feel strongly about something you have to think about whether you want to take a chance on alienating a lot of people or whether you can change how you address something so you still get your point across but don’t make people mad because you were too blunt in your opinion. Every once in awhile it’s best to leave it alone and go after something else.
3. Sometimes you have to do it your way instead of listening to how someone else tells you how to do it.
In poker, you had all these pundits that talk about pot odds and how many big blinds you have left based on how much money you have. The other day at the casino I went all in and this guy called saying it wasn’t all that much money to call and that he couldn’t leave it all out there because he just might win, even though he knew I had to have a great hand. And I did, aces, and I won. Poker manuals would say with that kind of money in the pot you have to go after it, but if he’d folded he’d have saved $60 he could have used for another hand. In a poker tournament, as long as you have chips you have the opportunity to get a good hand and get yourself back into the game, no matter how many big blinds you have; pundits aren’t always correct.
In blogging, there are a lot of people who tell you what you should do. Heck, I’m one of those people who kind of tells you what you should do to be a better blogger. But everything I say might not be the right thing for you. If I say write something every day and you can’t do that, then don’t try keeping up with me on it. If I say write longer posts and that’s not your style, then don’t do it. True, there are some things I say that are absolutes, but that doesn’t mean you need to deliver them in the same way I do. Trust your own instincts; even I might not be right all the time as it pertains to you.
4. If you’re going to try to win a poker tournament, you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you from time to time.
When tournaments are going on for a long time and you’re still hanging around, you need to start paying attention to how a few players play the game. For instance, there was this guy the other day that raised on almost every single hand, and he raised big. His idea was to get people to fold their cards early on so he could incrementally build up his chip stack. So, what I did was just keep folding my hands until I had a really good one, then when he raised I raised way over his hand and dared him to commit. He kept folding when I did that, and soon others realized the same thing and 6 hands in a row someone re-raised his bet, which finally made him stop doing it because he was just throwing away money on hands that weren’t worth it.
In blogging, you need to pay attention to what’s going on with your blog. If you’re answering people’s comments with questions and they never respond, you need to verify that people are seeing your responses; you might need to add a new plugin to your blog for that very thing. If you have a plugin that’s supposed to be sending your posts to Twitter or Facebook automatically, you need to verify every once in awhile that they’re working. If you’re post-dating your posts you need to make sure that’s working. If whenever you write a blog post, you need to preview it, especially if you’ve added links or images, to make sure things are where you’re hoping they are. And every once in awhile you might have to change your blog around some if you think things aren’t working in some fashion for you. Don’t throw away your time without knowing what’s going on.
5. When you get to a certain point and you’re still doing well, why not take a shot at winning?
In poker, you’d think everyone was actually trying to win the tournament, but you’d be wrong. Some people get really tired and have had it. Some people are just hoping to make the money and when they do they’re happy for it and ready to leave. To win a poker tournament, you have to be willing to grind it out, to play the odds, to bluff here and there without too much risk but enough risk to make it worthwhile. And if you maneuver yourself well, you have a great chance of winning it all.
With blogging, some people get to a certain point and think they’re doing well enough and then seem to stop trying. At one point they were writing 5 posts a week, and suddenly they’re writing one every 2 weeks. If they were paying attention, they saw how well their blog was doing with more posts and more visitors, and maybe they were even making money; who knows. If you’re reached a certain level, that’s when it’s time to figure out how to kick it up another notch, how to win it all, and then be ready to reap the benefits of it all. If you can do that, you and your blog will be winners, and you’ll earn great accolades, a great sense of satisfaction, and maybe even some money.
Okay, did I win a poker tournament? No, but I finished 2nd in an online poker tournament, and you know what? It took doing all those things and more to get to that point. It took 8 hours, and when it was just me and the other guy playing head on I even took the lead. And I finally went all in with a hand that was pretty good but marginal, and he called and had the better hand, and that was that. But I earned my money, had my best showing, and my confidence has shot up dramatically. That followed a great day last week at the casino as well.
If I can win at poker we all can win at blogging; let’s all go for the win!