888poker: How To Set Your Poker Goals—Long Term and Short
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Every poker player has goals. These goals might be a vague dream of playing the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, a specific goal of grinding out a minimum wage online, or a burning desire to beat their buddies at the weekly home game. Whatever your aspirations might be, getting serious about goal setting is a vital part of developing your game and achieving poker success.
Goal setting is about taking your aims and aspirations, nailing them down and figuring out the concrete steps required to get from where you are to where you want to be.
A simplified approach—borrowed here from the team at 888poker—is to focus first on your long-term goals. Then once your long-term goals are figured out, you break them down into short-term goals, and apply 888poker's general tips.
The View From The Top
Long-term goals are about providing you with structure and motivation. So, when you set long-term goals, you want to think about what you want out of poker overall.
Examples of long-term goals might include things like moving up stakes, increasing your win rate at your current stakes, or winning a particular tournament title. The aim here is to generate a vision of what your poker career might look like.
Your long-term goals should be near the upper limit of what seems achievable for you. That way they balance your reach and your grasp, motivating you to work hard without becoming unrealistic.
Once you have a sense of your long-term dreams, you can use the SMART framework to tighten them up into serious goals. The idea of the SMART framework is that you should phrase your goals to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
So if the dream is to "make a living at poker," the goal should be something like "I want to have a win rate of $20/hour while playing six hours per day in two years' time."
A long-term goal is a statement of your destination. Short-term goals are the sat-nav instructions that will get you there. They are the units of real action and, as such, there is a much higher requirement for the goal to be concrete.
Where your long-term goal might be to beat the big game at your local cardroom by the end of the year, your short-term goals for the first week will be things like "study ranges for one hour before heading to the cardroom," "make flashcards of every tell in Mike Caro's book," and "play for one hour online three times this week, reviewing every hand in which I VPIP'd."
Short-term goals give you a way to make and track your progress as well as providing the motivation of regular small achievements. They also help you create the right mindset by directing action at a granular level they can prevent you from being overwhelmed by the big picture and give your brain something specific to focus on.
You should regularly revisit your short-term goals to make sure they are still moving you toward your long-term goals. Because they exist on a short time frame, the short-term is where your flexibility lives.
Prioritising In Time
You need to always be seeking a balance between long-term and short-term poker goals. Keep checking your long-term goal to see if it does its job of providing you with direction and motivation. Check your short-term goals regularly to make sure that they are moving you toward your long-term goals.
The most useful goals are those that help you achieve something meaningful to you. So if your priorities change, don't be afraid to change your long-term goals accordingly.
Similarly, if a short-term goal doesn't seem to be helping you achieve your goals anymore. Chuck it and replace it with something that will improve your game more efficiently.
A key way of tracking what goals are working is to make sure that you are collecting data on your progress. Then add an appointment to your calendar every week or every month to review your records, adjust your goals, and figure out what steps are required moving forward. These regular review sessions will also give you a moment to celebrate your successes. When you achieve a milestone, make sure to mark it. You'll find that noting your progress will motivate you to keep going.
Goal Setting: General Tips
With the broad strokes covered, here are some key ideas to keep in mind as you set your goals. These top poker goal tips will help make your goals work harder and smarter for you.
Set Specific And Challenging Goals
Specific goals will clarify the path ahead and make your progress much easier to measure. For example, if you have a numerical goal like "play 50,000 hands a month" and you played 30,000 last month, then you know that you are 60% of the way to your goal. You also know that to the rest of the way you need to schedule more hours of play and practice playing more tables at once.
It is also important that your goals be challenging. Players with more challenging goals are more likely to push themselves, improving and hitting goalposts faster.
Use Implementation Intentions
The term "implementation intentions”—coined by Dr. Peter Gollwitzer—refers to a specific way of structuring short-term goals in which you specify a plan for when, where, and how you will work towards your goal. This turns a goal like "play fifty tournaments each week" into "I will be at my desk (where) at 6 p.m. every weekday (when) and will play the first ten online poker tournaments on 888poker that meet my Kelly criteria (how)."
In Gollwitzer’s studies, participants who set implementation intentions were more likely to achieve their goals than the control group.
Think In Terms of Growth
When setting future goals and assessing past progress, try to think in terms of growth. This idea comes from Dr. Carol Dweck who found that a "growth mindset" (as opposed to a "fixed mindset") helped people to remain motivated despite failure and to identify opportunities when they arose.
Structure Short-Term Goals in Layers
Having a hierarchy of goals creates natural milestones and helps you to remain focused. This might mean having a set of long-term goals made up of medium-term goals which can be achieved by completing a series of short-term goals.
Several studies suggest that a public commitment to a goal can motivate subjects to achieve their goals as can having a person or persons to whom you are accountable. This might mean making a public Facebook post, getting yourself an accountabili-buddy, or hiring a coach to keep you on track.
Putting It All Together
With these insights in mind, the next step is to set yourself the long-term goal of setting yourself some poker goals.
Sit down and brainstorm your poker aspirations. Put them into a SMART framework. Figure out the hierarchy of goals that will get you from here to there. Make sure your goals are specific and challenging, set implementation intentions for each, and tell someone about your goals.
And if any of your goals involve tournament poker, check out the PokerNews Online Tournament Calendar which can help you keep track of what 888poker tournaments are coming up. In this free-to-use app you can apply filters to find the perfect 888poker tourney and even register for events without leaving the PokerNews site!