Mastermind Groups

The power of working with others on your game...

Jim Rohn once famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Think about this for a minute. It applies to so many different aspects of life and work, often for the worst. I know family members and friends that struggle in life, almost entirely because of the people they hang around, people who drag them down and/or don’t offer any positivity or examples of goodness, people who promote bad behavior and/or want company on their race to the bottom.

I’ve also seen the opposite, where people become better and/or more successful because they’ve actively changed their environment and have found better role models to have around with. Want to be a winner? Hang around with winners and try to emulate what they do.

This whole “you are the average of the 5 people” phenomena manifests itself in the workplace, schools, and even online. And it applies to poker, too.

Who do you spend your off-table poker time with? With whom do you talk over poker hands? What forums and online groups do you participate in? Who is in your poker strategy and/or mastermind group? You do have a mastermind group, don’t you?

No? Well, why the heck not?

My Experience with a Mastermind Group

Years ago, my old poker coach, the Guru, held a weekly lunch poker session where a half-dozen of us die-hard students of his would gather for bagel sandwiches, coffee and juice, and poker talk. Sometimes the discussions were structured, sometimes not. Sometimes we brought up an online SnG table or a cash game, projected it on the wall, and watched and commented while one of us played. We discussed poker books we were reading. We talked about strategy, tactics, mistakes, bad beats, difficult hands we played, and so on. We learned poker from each other. We became better players. We became more serious about the game. It’s the old a rising tide floats all boats, and we were self-manufacturing the tide.

I miss those days. The Guru moved away and the weekly meeting dried up and blew away in the wind as a result. I still stay in touch with many of that group, but we don’t get together to support and learn poker from each other anymore. And that’s a real shame. It’s a net loss in my life.

I’ve (kind of) replaced the old group with a rag-tag collection of friends and online poker enthusiasts, primarily met through my blogging and coaching. People send me hands to discuss, and I either write them back or we Skype through them together, and while this is beneficial to both them and me, it’s not quite the same as the old Guru group.

Poker players are like sharks. We have to keep move forward and learning, or we die. Poker is indeed Darwinian by nature; those that improve survive, those that don’t, lose. Joining a mastermind group can have a profound influence on your evolution as a poker player. It did for me, and it can for you, too.

Organize Your Own Mastermind

Talking poker tactics with fellow enthusiasts is not only fun, but it is also highly educational and will elevate your game. Find people at least at your own skill level, get a Google Hangouts or Skype group formed, and set a regular schedule for meeting with them. Limit the group to 4-6 serious and committed people. And get started.

There are lots of formats to use for such “mastermind” meetings. For example, one way is to simply go around the table and let each person speak for approximately 5 minutes about their own game, a hand or two they played, what they’re working on improving, their win/loss rates and hours played, and so on. Everyone gets a few minutes to speak.  Then follow this up by shifting gears to a deeper dive with a single pre-determined group member. Have this one individual person bring a half dozen hands they struggled with the past week for serious review by the others. Or they can bring in a concept they don’t understand and want help with. Or…

…well, the rest is up to you and your group. The important thing to remember is that you are indeed the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Find some Exceptional Poker players, form a regular meeting time (online or live), and then get better together at this crazy game. You will not regret it, and nor will they. A rising tide lifts all boats.


Exceptional Poker — Learn. Master. Crush.

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