Betting 101: Life lessons and tips from poker pro Daniel Negreanu
I recently co-hosted a podcast with NFL and PGA analyst Sia Nejad to talk with one of the most recognizable poker pros in the world, Daniel Negreanu. You may have seen D-Negs on ESPN playing in the World Series of Poker, on PokerGo playing some of the highest-stakes cash games on High Stakes Poker, or maybe even taken part in his MasterClass where he shares betting tactics and tournament strategy.
If you are unfamiliar, Negreanu sits third on the all-time poker money list with a career $50,297,796 in lifetime tournament earnings. Some of his biggest scores include winning over $8 million in the 2014 WSOP The Big One for One Drop, which was a $1,000,000 buy-in. He’s been in the game for a long, long time and has racked up nearly 50 first-place tournament titles, so when he talks, I want to listen. There were quite a few points that resonated with me. Although we didn’t directly speak on sports betting, there were some correlated life tips that could be beneficial in your betting pursuits.
Want to find success? Have resilience
“To have the ability to get kicked in the head over and over, to then wake up every morning and do it again.” My DMs are open. The most asked questions I get are either, ‘How can I become a content creator?’ or ‘How can I get better at sports betting?’ Negreanu’s response to how he found success in poker is the same as how you would find success in any activity in your life: Put yourself out there, take risks, fail often and try again until you meet a goal.
“If you play 100 poker tournaments, 99 times you’re going to get knocked out and lose.” That’s true, not just in poker but in everything. If you apply to 100 jobs, you will likely get 99 rejection letters. If you cold-email 100 editors, producers, recruiters, managers, etc., you will likely get 99 unresponsive replies. If you are just starting out on your betting path, you will lose more often than you win because you are becoming familiar with things like bankroll management, quality over quantity and your own betting process. Keep going.
All it takes is one person to respond, one person to say they can help, one person to offer you a chance and one wager to grow your confidence in your process. Resilience.
Poker parallels to betting
“Sometimes you will do the exact right thing and still lose. If I’m playing poker and put all my money in with pocket aces, which is the best hand, against someone’s pair of jacks, I am 82% to win. Guess what? The 18% happens sometimes.” That’s a simple concept that people tend to forget. Even in sports, your reason for making a wager could be the exact reason why it works out for three quarters of a football game, but then a fluke injury occurs that turns a winning bet into a loss.
Your goal as a sports bettor is not to win 100% of your bets but to make the best informed prediction on an outcome, practice correct bankroll management and bet sizing, and leave the rest up to the universe to deliver. As Negreanu cemented, “focus on the decisions rather than the result.” Nailed it.
Have coaching sessions with yourself and be honest
“I made a goal. If I didn’t reach it, I think of why it didn’t work. If I do achieve it, I think what did I do to make it happen?” Negreanu talked about having an internal dialogue of being honest with yourself. I’ve said this myself in relation to betting. If you win, cool. Review if your reason for making a wager was the reason it came to fruition. If you lost, cool. Review why it didn’t work out.
Poker players are known for taking notes of hands they place either in a cash game or poker tournament. They play hundreds of hands in a session, so it’s best to write notes, basically a play-by-play that they can review later to see if anything different could have been done, whether they won the hand or not. Why not do the same in sports betting? Make a wager. See the result. Analyze the result. Apply that knowledge to the next bet.
One thing, though: You have to be honest. How many accounts on #GamblingTwitter do you see tweeting, “I was so unlucky. I should have won” yada yada. Were you really unlucky? Or did you just make a bad bet? Like Negreanu points out, the word “responsible” if you break it down is “response-able.” Be neutral in your evaluations, “There are mistakes I am making. There are areas I want to improve.” If you can do this every day, sky's the limit.
Every 3,000-mile journey starts with a first step
With social media so dominant in our lives, it’s easy to compare yourself to the Instagram fitness influencer that has six-pack abs and a million followers or the sports bettor constantly posting the green checkmarks. You think, “Why am I not there yet?” Hey! Don’t compare yourself to someone that has put in years of work if you are just starting out. Everyone starts somewhere.
“Let’s say you want to start with a daily 20-minute walk. As long as your legs are working, you can do that.” Negreanu said. “What you will find, the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit, it becomes a positive addiction.”
Don’t worry about your finished product, take the first step to achieving that goal. Want to get into content creating? Start! Make your own YouTube channel, post to Twitter, record TikTok videos. Stop thinking, just do it. Want to lose 10 pounds for your summer vacation? Start taking morning walks to get more movement. Start working out once a week. Then, gradually, once a week turns into twice a week, then three times a week, etc. Then, over the course of a few months, you feel better and have made improvements to living a healthier lifestyle. Step 1: Start.
Don’t let money be your motivation
“To be successful at something, ask yourself why you want to be successful at that thing? If your reason is because I want to make a lot of money, then you are probably not going to be successful.” It’s so cliche but it’s a saying that holds so much truth: If you find what it is that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s true. If you love something so much, become really good at it, the money will come. However, as Negreanu points out, “If money is your driving force, then it’s likely not really something you really love.”
What’s your why? If it’s money, then it won’t be long-lasting. Let that sink in.
Negreanu is one of the most successful poker pros in the world. If you’d like to get to know more about him or listen to the full conversation, check it out here.