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5 things that will kill your poker career

5 things that will kill your poker career

We’re in poker for the long run. If you are too, don’t blow your poker career before it’s even started.

Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) has seen players go from nothing to the highest stakes. Poker creates some incredible journeys.

But he’s also seen the process in reverse countless times and, you don’t need us to tell you, that’s not good for anyone.

Here are the 5 things that will kill your poker career, according to BBZ.

Excessive confidence

In order to play and bet on yourself, you have to have confidence. But excessive confidence leads you to overreach in games where you don’t have an edge.

Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ)

“If you have a $10K bankroll and you’re playing $1K tournaments, it doesn’t matter how good you are,” says BBZ. “Unless you sun-run, you’re going to lose all your money.”.

Misplaced confidence has so many technicals. It might mean you’re playing in games that are too big. It might mean you’re playing in games that are too hard. It might mean you’re moving from one format of poker to another too soon without putting in the hard work.

“I’ve seen tons of players win half a million dollars in MTTs, move to sit and gos, and lose half a million dollars,” says BBZ. “Or they win half a million in sit and gos and move to cash games, then lose half a million. It happens all the time.

“I get exposed to this more than anyone else because of the staking business that I’ve run for so many years, which by definition means when players run out of capital they come and talk to me.”


If there’s one thing you could never accuse BBZ of, it’s being inconsistent. He shows up to work, coach and study every day.

“In my experience, inconsistency manifests itself in poker players most often when they have a big score,” says BBZ. “Say they win $150K. Maybe they’ve worked with me, handling everything properly, but then they go awol for three weeks, five weeks, a month and a half, three months. I’m like, dude where’d you go?

“They say they had a vacation or whatever but if you were in any other business you’d die. You have to be consistent. You have to show up at the office every day. You have to study. There are things you need to do to be successful and they don’t involve taking two months off every time you win money.”

Poker is volatile. You’re going to have periods where you don’t win anything and then these sharp periods where you win lots.

“You can’t just go partying every time you have an upswing,” says BBZ. “You’ll blow it.”

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Lack of studying

This poker career killer is a personal favourite for BBZ because he studies so much.

“When people first commit to the BBZ organisation and they first talk to me about staking, they usually don’t have much of a regimented study program,” says BBZ. “Now everyone inside my study program is required to attend the seminars that we do, which either I’m hosting or my coaches are hosting”

BBZ at work: Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond

As a result, all professional players involved with BBZ have disciplined, steady study plans which our coaches do their best to monitor. If you only study when you feel like it, you run the risk of becoming a losing player. You risk becoming irrelevant.

“You don’t get to be the 98th best in the world or whatever,” says BBZ. “You might be 98th in the world today, but if you’re not studying your ass off, next week you’ll be 200th, and a month later you’ll be 1,000th.

“There’s just no way around it. If you’re out studying people, you can climb those rankings. It’s very important. I wish I could make this no.1 on the list as it kills so many poker careers, but what kills careers the most is misplaced confidence.”

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Financial discipline

A lot of financial discipline ties in with misplaced confidence, but what BBZ is referring to here is when people win money and build a bankroll, but then blow it on a car or going out partying.

“I’ve been exposed to all of the ways you can lose $100K, $500K, a million dollars etc.,” says BBZ. “Oftentimes, losing lots will require you to forgo certain opportunities.”

Let’s say the opportunity comes up to play the World Series of Poker Main Event, a great $10K buy-in tournament, but perhaps can’t go because you can’t afford the plane ticket, the hotel, the food.

“Why not? You won 150k three months ago,” says BBZ. “If you think this is a stretch, it’s not. These numbers are legit. I know people who have won $2M who then come to me and need me to fly them from point a to point b. I’m serious.

“A lack of financial discipline absolutely kills poker careers. In poker, we glorify winning and losing. The bigger the swing is, the more it’s celebrated, so people relish in massive highs and unfortunately have to cope with some really dark lows.”

Lack of integrity

BBZ puts this last, but it could easily be first.

“A lack of integrity is going to be the one thing that absolutely permanently and irreparably destroys your poker career,” says BBZ. “If you have the first four problems but you’re one of the best players–which will be hard if you’re not studying, but bear with me–if you’re too confident, inconsistent with your volume, have a lack of financial discipline, aren’t studying as much as you should, but for the moment at least you’re one of the best players, other people will believe in you. Other people will invest in you. Other people will support you. There are businesses that exist to make sure you still have a career. The staking business is one of them.”

But If you don’t have integrity, there’s nothing anyone can do for you.

“If I send you money and you steal it, that’s it. You’re done. All organisations talk. If you can’t be trusted that is for sure the one thing there’s no coming back from. It’s the career killer that you can’t work on.”

You can fix the other things but if you destroy your integrity publicly, you can’t just build it back up again. Trust is one of those things where you either have all of it or you have none of it.

“It’s either I trust you and you get enough money to play high stakes poker, which is essentially a six-figure line of credit with no collateral, or I don’t trust you and you can have no money at all. It’s black and white.”

For more BBZ Talks articles, check out:

5 ways to deal with poker downswings

5 biggest mistakes poker players make

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