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“I Only Won 52% of Hands!” Becoming A World Class Poker Player, With Chris Sparks (#120)

Using frameworks to be world class in poker, business and life

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“I Only Won 52% of Hands!” Becoming A World Class Poker Player, With Chris Sparks (#120) | My Home Vitality

Introduction to guest:

As one of the world’s top online poker players, Chris understands what it takes to excel at the highest level.

In the last five years, Chris has taught over sixty successful executives and investors his elite poker frameworks for achieving world-class performance in business and life.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to listen.

More from Chris:


Podcast: Forcing Function Hour

Group Coaching Program: Team Performance Training

Free quiz to score your performance: Performance Assessment

Twitter: @SparksRemarks

Key quotes and takeaways from the show:

Get the reps in! Chris has played over 2 million poker hands.

For any pursuit, one progresses through stages… Learning the rules, situational analysis, board reading, hand reading, the meta-game, etc.

Chris only won 52% of hands. When he won, he won big. Set the game up for big wins and small losses. Alternatively, set the game up to win more than you lose and play LOTS of times.

Make your best guess and then calibrate your intuition based on the feedback. Play lots of feedback loops to develop intuition. Again, GET THE REPS IN!

Every time you’re wrong is an opportunity to learn.

Chris uses a “hard stop loss” as a point for him to quit because if he loses that many times it’s unlikely that he’s playing well.

Use “canaries in the mine” as mental triggers to change what you’re doing. Chris’ example is swearing out loud when he’s playing online poker.

What makes almost all successful people successful is their willingness to put in the work. This willingness to work is often enhanced when the challenge doesn’t feel like work.

We live in a probabilistic universe. The things that occur are just one permutation of the many things that could have occurred. If something happens, it wasn’t inevitable that it happened. As a result, don’t focus on outcomes, focus on processes. Sometimes things go well regardless of what we do and vice versa, sometimes bad outcomes arise from things you can’t control.

Analysing processes makes you more open to development and learning. The only thing you have control over is your process.

Keep an objective record of your thinking and timestamp it so you can go back and see if your process/thinking was accurate and if you need to recalibrate.

How is your current behaviour serving you?

The main reason people don’t take action is because of fear and having a real need; for example, not wanting to look weak in front of peers, avoiding failure, maintaining perfection, etc. In order to take action, do the next possible step that feels good and satisfies that need; for example, what next action can you take that feels safe?

Find the first smallest action you need to take to create momentum. It’s easier to steer a moving ship.

No one has problems, they’re all opportunities.

“If you were successful in this, what would that look like?” “What would it take to get there?”

People, for the most part, already know what works for them or what to do. This is where a coach can be really helpful. It’s often not a question of what to do, but how to do it.

Vision (use pictures) > Goals > Plan/Roadmap > Take any sort of action > Develop and use productivity hacks/systems/processes > Review & Iteration.

Success and happiness is different for everyone. You have to determine that for yourself.

“Are your actions really moving you forward?”

Create “opportunity” lists, not “to do” lists. “To do’s” are obligations, don’t fill your life with obligations, choose what you do.

Opportunity cost: Doing something of low value actually results in negative value because it comes at the expense of doing something more important.

The Power Law: The most important thing on your opportunity list is more important than the rest of your list combined.

Opportunity list: 3 things for the day that are of utmost importance. Nothing else matters.

Chris’ keystone habit is journaling (and reflection practices). “I think everything comes down to iteration speed, so if you don’t have space for reflection you’re doomed to keep making the same mistakes.”

Examples of interfaces for self-understanding: journaling, reflection, meditation.

Links to podcast sites:

Listen on Audible
Listen on iTunes
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on Overcast

The full podcast:

Related episodes:

For more podcasts on performance in business and life, check out these related videos…

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Show notes:

  • 00:00:00 – Time travel.
  • 00:01:45 – Becoming a world-class poker player.
  • 00:14:09 – Reading people.
  • 00:17:02 – Rigging the game to win.
  • 00:20:04 – The statistics of winning.
  • 00:21:55 – Knowing when to quit.
  • 00:25:27 – Biggest wins & losses.
  • 00:26:52 – The key to success.
  • 00:29:04 – Business success frameworks.
  • 00:34:31 – Forcing action.
  • 00:37:20 – Problems vs. Opportunities.
  • 00:40:28 – Creating your dream life.
  • 00:46:23 – Dig the hole!
  • 00:49:12 – Prioritising.
  • 00:53:46 – Future skills.
  • 00:56:22 – The most valuable thing.
  • 00:59:31 – An unknown recommendation.
  • 01:01:36 – Transitioning from Poker to Business.
  • 01:04:17 – Chris’ final thoughts.
  • 01:04:43 – More about Chris.
  • 01:06:17 – Watch this!
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