One of the best ways to learn is to look to the people who’ve already done it. In this case, we’re talking about players who just scored big in the 2020 SCOOP. We asked winners, “What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started playing poker?”

We’ve complied the answers to this question into valuable advice that will save new and experienced players alike time and energy. You don’t have to make these mistakes. You can take the champs’ word for it and carve your own path in the poker world.

Understand the journey

Poker is a unique journey, different for each and every player. You may play small stakes for recreational, grind out the SNGs, or aim big in the weekend majors. If you’re going to hit the tourneys and play in series like the SCOOP and WCOOP, then it’s important to understand that these games take a lot of effort.

Xiaoxiao “W.Leung” Niao, winner of #86-L, wishes he’d have known about “the amount of time and energy it takes for each tournament.” He says, “It is a physically, emotionally and mentally draining process”, and he isn’t far wrong.

To have enough energy to deal with tournaments of this caliber, Niao says, “One has to be patient and stay calm in every up and down situation. I remember the first time a river card came my way. I was getting up, pumping fists etc. And in a bad beat, I was so frustrated. So by the next few hours I was running on empty and, not surprisingly, got knocked out early. So my advise is to save your energy and save your celebration till the end”.

It’s not just individual tournaments that can be a struggle. Anyone planning to become a poker pro should be aware of the difficulties.

“What I wanted to know when I started is that poker, for those who want to play professionally, should have the same discipline as a normal job. After all, to play and be constant with good results, you need a schedule of times for study, volume of games, and so on”, says #85-H winner Victor “victorbco” Hugo.

Don’t let all that put you off. As “LFFF22”, winner of the $530 2nd Chance Main Event says, “Poker is a fascinating game. I feel challenged. It makes me deal well with victories, defeats, joys and frustrations. At first I expected to have fun, but (more than that) I found a fascinating world that I love”.

You may enter the poker world merely to play a game, but what you find is an emotional rollercoaster and a whirlwind of strategy, learning and community to explore.

Useful words of caution

The most effective lessons are often harsh, hard-hitting realities. If you can help it, these are the kind of mistakes that you don’t really want to make yourself. Better that you learn the easy way, by listening to the wise words of these SCOOP winners.

“pingu2k4”, winner of #92-M, says that he had to “learn the hard way about bankroll management”, stating that this would be the number one thing he wish he’d have known before he started playing. Bankroll management involves playing poker at stakes that are sustainable for you and keeping poker money separate from everyday finances.

“I was a winning player (live mainly) before attending university. When I went to Uni, there was no casino within easy access, so I stopped playing live much. I played more online, but didn’t practice good bankroll management. To cut a long story short, I left uni before completing my degree to take a full time job instead, to get out of debt. The full time job was actually dealing poker.”

Playing within your limits is essential, but winning huge prize pools also requires a certain amount of responsibility. This is especially true for young players who may be scoring big for the first time in life.

“I was quite young when I won first significant sum of money, so when i look back I wish I was more experienced in life and more aware of how money can affect you”, says #94-H winner Branimir “ThoNapalm” Barac. “Because in this world full of illusionary doctrines upon which you act in everyday life, consciously or subconsciously, big sums of money may be just worst thing for you in a way… But as wise people said, ignorance is opportunity for wisdom. We are all here to learn.”

So yeah. Be wise with your money, both entry fees and winnings.

Bad beats, mistakes and positive thinking

No amount of preparation or foresight can save you from certain poker home truths. Namely, that mistakes and bad beats happen. You don’t have to dwell on mistakes, but you can definitely use them as an opportunity to better yourself.

“You can turn mistakes into good opportunities”, says #101-L winner “KKAArdoso”. “I’ve already seen too much people in my life talking about theirs errors and mistakes in a bad way. In the beginning I used to do the same, but nowadays I know that we need to look into it and try to learn from it.”

Many new players struggle with bad beats and longer term bad runs. #103-L winner “vpisjak” says, “One thing I wish I had known when I first started to play poker is that one bad day doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad one tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Only the here and now matters. Do your best right now and don’t let fear trick your mind or

Troy “teckidtq” Quenneville values the “power of positive thinking” as an outlook for both poker and life

question your ability to succeed again. Every new day is full of new chances to win again.”

Troy “teckidtq” Quenneville, winner of #95-H, says the one thing he wished he had known before he started playing poker is the power of positive thinking. “Not only because it puts us in the right state of mind to make the best decisions that we’re capable of, but because hoping and dreaming are what life is all about”.

Truly inspirational words from our SCOOP winners, who all made their dream a reality. Now it’s time to convert that wisdom and use it to shape your own poker journey.

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More wisdom from SCOOP winners:

4-step roadmap to winning a title
Six SCOOP winner’s tips
3 Things SCOOP winners do well
Common mistakes you’re making

With the Summer Series coming right up, there’s no better time to start applying the lessons and going after your own major tournament victories. Or just having a crack at the schedule of weekend MTTs within your bankroll.

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