5 More Lessons About Blogging Learned From A Poker Tournament

On Saturday I decided that I deserved a break and went to the casino about 40 minutes from my house. My intention wasn’t only to play, though; I had decided I was going to enter the tournament.

For those folks who have never played a poker tournament but know the general rules of poker, let’s say that it’s an exhilarating experience. From the time you start until the time you’re finished you’re always on your guard. I want to say more but I think it’ll mess up what I’m going to write here, as I’m going to expound on a previous post that I wrote about a year ago titled 5 Keys To Winning Poker Tournaments And Blogging, which expounded on my post titled 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker.

You might be able to tell already but I enjoy poker. And if you’re a frequent visitor of this blog you also know that I can find things that others see no relation at all and relate them to blogging, as I did 3 weeks ago in tying toaster ovens to blogging. I’m thinking that it might be harder for those who don’t know much about poker to understand this as much as it’s easy to relate to toaster ovens, but let’s see where we end up. By the way, I was going to make this 10 lessons but I have a feeling that 5 are going to be a long enough post; you know how I am. 🙂

1. You always need to know where you’re starting from.

In a poker tournament, no matter what your buy-in amount is, you start with a certain dollar value of chips. In my case I started with $20,000 worth of chips. The thing about poker tournaments is that they’re long haul events. If you gamble too much too early and you don’t have good cards, you could be gone pretty quickly.

In blogging, you need to have some kind of idea of what it is you want to blog about before you start unless you’re a prolific writer. So many people start blogs without having any idea what they’re going to say or whether they have enough to say over the long haul. They end up writing a few posts, then burning out because they said it all in those early posts and have nothing left for the long haul.

2. You can’t sit around waiting for the perfect thing to occur.

In a poker tournament, the amount of money you have to put up when you’re either the big blind or small blind goes up every 30 minutes. That means the amount you have to bet when you just want to see the flop also goes up, and at a certain point you also have to add an ante amount each hand. If you wait around for the best hand possible, all your money will get siphoned away and eventually you’ll be stuck playing a hand you don’t want to play because you don’t have money to allow you to skip a hand.

I know so many bloggers who say that they only write a post when they feel they have something to say. What they’re waiting for is perfect inspiration, which really comes only 2 or 3 times a year. You can’t build a following by waiting for inspiration, or waiting to write the perfect post. If you can’t build a following, then most of your blogging goals go down the drain, and if you’re blogging for business reasons you’re not going to get any benefit at all.

3. If you don’t have goals set up then you have no way of tracking your progress or regress.

My goals in the poker tournament were simple. I wanted to make it to the first break having at least the same amount of money that I started the tournament with. That’s actually a stronger position than many people might believe because half the people will be close to bombing out after 2 hours. I had actually almost doubled my take after the first two hours; sweet!

Blogging goals are much simpler to think about if you ask me. The main thing is figuring out how many posts you want to write a week, how long you want those posts to be, and what topic you’re going to write these posts on. Further goals might be how you want to rank, making money, etc. But without knowing some kind of goal you may not achieve what you want to achieve.

4. You have to take advantage of breaks when you get them.

In poker tournaments, segments generally run 2 hours at a time. However, there are short periods of time where they change out all the small chips for larger chips because the ante’s have gone up. This means you have a quick 5 minute period where, whether or not you need to go, you’d best try to go to the bathroom, grab a quick drink, and get back to your spot.

In blogging, breaks come in many different ways. Sometimes you’re asked to write a guest post. Sometimes you’re asked to do an interview. I know many people who think they’re not worthy of certain honors when really they’re just scared or embarrassed. Everyone needs to be ready to step up to the plate when their time comes to shine.

5. Hiding behind something artificial in any realm will doom you in the end.

Something a lot of poker players think is that if they wear sunglasses while playing that other players can’t see their eyes and thus they’ll have an advantage. Other players will wear earphones and listen to music instead of listening to what’s going on around them. At the final table yesterday (yes, I made the final table), not a single person there was wearing sunglasses or had an MP3 player on them. As a matter of fact, since 2002 only 2 poker champions at the World Series of Poker have worn sunglasses, and they only put them on when they made a big bet.

There are a lot of bloggers who hide behind fake names and copy posts from other people. Those blogs ultimately fail and those people eventually fall away as well. Those who fall quicker are those who steal the content of others. People using fake names… well, that’s a different story. They might get the chance to build up some credibility if they write really well but it’s harder to trust someone who seems like they have something to hide.

Just so you know, I made the final table and went out on the very first hand. Hey, it was a risk and a good risk, but the one guy who stayed in the hand had a good one and that was that. Still, it felt great making a final table, and the lessons I learned about blogging via that final table are priceless.

26 thoughts on “5 More Lessons About Blogging Learned From A Poker Tournament”

  1. I know the basics of poker, Mitch, but I guess I know nothing about poker tournaments. What does it mean that you started out with $20,000 worth of chips? It doesn’t mean what it sounds like. Does it?

    1. Charles, it does, but not your impression of it. lol I paid $100 to get into the tournament. They gave me $20,000 worth of chips to start with. Tournament poker isn’t like regular poker. Regular poker, I pay $100 I get $100. But I can walk away with any amount I win or, most probably, don’t lose. Tournament chips don’t equate to real money.

  2. Wish I knew anything about Poker! I however, enjoyed your post. Setting blogging goals and hiding an artificial hype need special mention. I know a lot of young kids starting a blog today and claiming 5 figure income the very next month via fake posts. Such attitude is gonna doom one for sure.

    Nice writing!

    1. Exactly Jenny. The thing is they don’t know we know they’re faking it, and thus they’re fooling themselves. Not that it couldn’t happen, but it’s certainly not happening for everyone.

  3. Nice advices, I really like your point on the importance of setting up goals. Making resolutions can motivate you in the work, and realizing the resolutions gives you the nice feeling of success.

    1. That’s really what it’s all about Anna. Focusing on one’s goals can help them progress. It’s not a guarantee that success will come, but one will at least be moving forward knowing what their goals are.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    I like your comparison between blogging and poker. It’s very creative to be able to pull two unlikely things together and write about their similarities. I’ve not played much poker, but I do agree with your point about blogging. Letting your authentic self shine through builds trust. Thanks for a great post

    1. Thank you Cathy. I find so many things compare well with life in general and poker is one of those things. I hope you checked out the toaster oven post as well. lol

  5. I remember the previous article, Mitch and I think that comparison is very accurate, but I think the main similarity is to stay focused all the time.

  6. Gambling and Blogging – Sometimes its the same thing. But great post – Really enjoyed the read and your views on the subject matter at hand. I also do enjoy a game of poker every now and then and your title was just to intriguing not to read. Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  7. Good post – goals are very important and the fact you just have to get on with it rather than wait for the perfect moment.

    I didn’t know you were a poker player Mitch

    1. I’m a very part time player Peter. I never want to get caught up in the fever of poker, which is somewhat easier now that we can’t play online poker for money anymore. But I like to play from time to time.

  8. Charming extended metaphor you have here, Mitch. I found the last heading to be especially profound. I think a lot of glasses and hat-wearing poker players doom themselves because simply by wearing those things other players know they have easily visible tells that need to be concealed. That still works into the metaphor about site-building. If you use cheap tricks to make you look competent, people will often enough see through the ruse.

    1. Thanks Steve, and very good analysis. I think most people started doing that when Moneymaker won in 2002 or 2003 but have you noticed how he hasn’t won anything else? It’s kind of a gamesmanship thing that might get people to a certain point, but the top players don’t wear that stuff, and the top bloggers don’t have tricks to get you either. Well, other than those stupid newsletter popups. lol

  9. Hey, Mitch! Been a while since I stopped by. Sounds like you had a great time at the tournament. 😀

    I have to tell you, I can relate to finding lessons in strange places. My son got a toy for Christmas that I have been thinking of writing a post about. My plan is to use it as a guest post somewhere 😀

    Anyway, in regards to your post, I really like number 2 and number 3. I recently had a period not necessarily waiting around for inspiration but of finding myself in Procrastination Station sitting around in my comfort zone. It amounts to the same thing, even if the cause was different. If you want to succeed, you must be moving forward.

    And goals help us to move forward. They give us something to aim for. A target to shoot at. Without some clearly defined goals, you won’t get anywhere. I have goals for the number of posts I want to write, comments I want to make, and several other things — just related to the blogging. That doesn’t even hit the other things I’m trying to get done as well.

    I might disagree with you just a little on the “fake name” thing. Authors have used pseudonyms for a long time for a variety of reasons. I think usually the ones who are successful do eventually reveal it’s a pseudonym, but there can be some advantages to using one.

    Great post!

    1. Grady, there’s a difference between a pseudonym and fake name based on reasoning. If you want to get known for your blog, do you want to be known as “Skippy” or as Grady? When you visit other blogs and decide to leave a comment, how do you want to be known as? Which one would you take more serious if they left a comment on your blog?

      Writers these days rarely start off with a pseudonym without a good reason. Maybe they want to try something else out; maybe they’re hiding from something. Thing is, even there it’s a “real” name and not a nickname; you’re not going to buy a book on relationships written by “Treester”, but if you’re a guy writing a book on relationships geared towards women you might change your name to “Sue Smith” for awhile.

      Do some people thrive anyway? Sure they do, but it’s not the norm. That’s where I’m really going with it.

  10. Hey Mitch, I’ve known for ages that you love a bit of poker. I also know you love chess and I’ve been waiting for a post where you make comparisons between chess and blogging. I’ve thought about this for awhile but I reckon now that I’ve spilled the beans you will beat me to it.

    I’m not too much of a poker player. My favourite card game is black jack. The problem is that a lot of the times your hand depends on the player that precedes you. I suppose if you were to compare that to blogging you could say that you shouldn’t copy other bloggers mistakes as you would be better of making your own road, if that makes any sense at all 😀

    As for taking advantage of the break when it comes your way, well, let’s say I know where you’re coming from in that respect. 😉

    1. You know Sire, I thought I had written that post, but I must have written a chess post in my mind because I don’t see it anywhere. If you’re going to write on it I won’t steal your thunder, but if not I’ve certainly got it in me. lol

      Blackjack is a much different animal. I’ve never won at blackjack; just don’t have the luck or acumen I suppose.

      1. Heck, I don’t mind if you write Mitch as I can always do my own version at a later date. At least I get to say that I was the one who gave you the idea 😉

  11. Wow, this brings a new perspective to blogging. And the funny thing about this blog is that they are things that bloggers should already know but does not act on it. This is a great post!

    1. Thanks John. True, some of it should already be known, but I’ve learned over the years that nothing’s that cut and dry, which is why stories and the like might help in some way.

  12. I did’n know you played poker ! but I wish you luck and lots of chips ! I also learned some new tips from this post . Thank You ! 🙂

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