The 3 Steps to Turning Tragedy into Triumph

The 3 Steps to Turning Tragedy into Triumph

It was the winter of 2007, and I was on a MASSIVE heater. I had just won the largest tournament in online history for more than $250,000, then went on the biggest upswing of my career, crushing every game from $25/$50 to $200/$400 No Limit.

The result? I ended the year as one of the top 10 winners online with over a million dollars in earnings.

I did what every 20 year old would have done… took a break to enjoy myself! When I came back to poker, something changed. I could feel the energy was different. I lost my rhythm, and started to lose. Instead of doing what I should have done and take a break, I tried to “play my way out”.

It didn’t turn out well…

And money wasn’t the only thing I lost. It was confidence, focus and ability to play my best as well. How do you go from playing $200/$400 to grinding $5/$10, where one buy in was smaller than a standard raise preflop?

Busting a $50,000 bankroll is one thing, but losing $500,000? I risked what would have been enough to set me up for life and for what, my ego? I was shattered.

That was definitely the low point. But turning things around and climbing my way back to the top of the poker industry taught me a lot.

Watch today’s video to learn the three things that you can do to turn things around and be successful in your passions or career.

What was the low point in your career or life? What ONE thing helped you most to recover.
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below!

Have questions of your own? Shoot them over to me and I’ll respond in a video.



P.S. I’m on a crazy road trip through Florida now…. did 8 cities in 5 days. To check out the highlights, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

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  • Fran P. January 15, 2015 9:27 am

    Your best video to the date in my opinion. Only few months ago i was in a similar situation than the one you described in the video, for me was hard to find motivation in poker if the only motivation is money, so i started looking the same way as you, as a ticket. It’s the only way because for me.
    Thanks for you Vlog, really enjoyed watching it

    P.S: I really recommend you this book, it’s related to your video:

    Sorry for my by english.

    Un saludo y gracias!

    • Alec January 15, 2015 8:24 pm

      Hey Fran,
      I really appreciate that. It’s weird I was a bit apprehensive about this content, so I’m really glad it helped. It’s funny how that works, sometimes the things you are the most unsure of end up helping the most!

      Good for you for making a change and I’m glad its paying off for you. I’ll def check out the book when I get a chance. I’m always game for new suggestions!

      Cheers man.

      P.S. You speak (or, at least write), very well!

  • Cesar Lopez January 24, 2015 8:47 am

    Hi Alec, Im from Lima- Peru and I really appreciate what you dou for the póker comunnity. You are a inspiration for all of us. I like the way you balance your life and do other things that dont includes póker.

    sorry for my english.

    Cesar Lopez

    • Alec January 27, 2015 11:22 am

      Hi Cesar,

      I really appreciate that. Let me know what your BIGGEST struggle is in poker today and how I can help.
      What would you like to see more of from me?
      Shoot me a response to the newsletter or any email you receive and I’ll do my best to create content around it.


  • Maverick Matt January 12, 2016 10:49 am

    This was a perfect video to address what’s been on my mind this New Year! My recent contemplations have swirled around painting a picture of the role I want poker to have in my life. I want to play for the love of the game! I am a big dreamer and I will always strive to play at the top of my ability, but for 2016 my challenge was actually accepting reality that I am John Smith. Acknowledging process oriented goals (even if they are recreational) and pursuing them with purpose. I want poker to provide a hobby that I am passionate about, an exercise of patience, entertainment, a mental work out and a challenge to improve/fine tune my thought process at the table. Acknowledging these simple things has been instrumental in my peace of mind, and hopefully profit is the reward to playing well. I’ve grown accustomed to setting out BIG “goals” (actually just pipe dreams) in poker and always falling short. Through setting out these straight forward john-smith goals (and starting with a realistic yet challenging end in mind) I have made some adaptations to my game! One of the most important changes is playing almost exclusively live for the time being. The online grind has been all about the money for me which turned into a form of gambling addiction despite my intentions. When I play live, I’m intent on picking up clues, making information driven decisions, take pride in out-thinking opponents, rarely find a reason to tilt, and thrive on exploiting leaks and acknowledging strengths in my opponent’s game. So for 2016, yes I have a mission that challenges me. Acknowledging I am a recreational poker player has actually brought the love of poker back into my life!

    PS Thanks for helping me get there!

    • Alec January 13, 2016 7:22 am

      Hey Maverick,
      I’m glad you enjoyed this man! Awesome job with your personal development – I think that playing exclusively live will dramatically help not only your game, but increase your enjoyment as well.

      Cheers to a great 2016!

  • Peter January 12, 2016 10:54 am

    Hey Alec,
    I really enjoy your posts and vlogs. I’ve been playing poker forever, always successfully but never near the levels you’ve achieved. However, for a variety of reasons–getting married, having a child, finding it harder to make as much money as I used to in my other profession (writing), escalating rake in NY underground poker, improved play by opponents, needing to spend out of my poker bankroll to pay bills (and therefore never being able to build the bankroll, so being vulnerable to swings), along with losing some of my passion for the game as it became too much of a grind, I have not been having the kind of results I want. My hourly win rate has decreased. I’d like to find a way to reverse this trend, but I’m not really sure how.I do know that losses have become much more painful and that there is no question that bankroll considerations and family responsibilities have affected my play, causing me to take a less aggressive approach. Any suggestions?

    • Alec January 13, 2016 7:25 am

      Hey Peter,

      Thanks for your candid response.
      I’ve frequently thought about the psychological effects of having a family on one’s poker game. Being fearless is imperative to success – you need to be able to EXECUTE that play, have the balls to risk it all on a read, not just the mere knowledge to know it’s the right play.

      I can imagine that family, and to a larger extent any responsibility, hinders that process as one becomes more cautious. This necessity, while important for our real life, is disastrous at the poker table.

      You must compartmentalize your life and your game. Make this your every effort. Find the 22 year old fearless idiot in you that did things without second thought. You need more of him in your poker game. Don’t become reckless of course, but find a balance between your overly conservative approach now and well timed aggression.
      Basically, getting tighter is the poker equivalent of growing old.
      And nobody wants to do that.


      • Peter January 13, 2016 5:51 pm

        Thanks Alec,
        That’s excellent advice–even if it’s less than easy to execute. Bankroll considerations definitely come into play if losing affects not only you but your family. In order to free myself from that inhibiting mindset, I’ve actually found someone to back me. 60-40 in their favor. I’m hopeful that knowing I cannot do my family harm will enable me to find my inner 22-year-old and reconnect with my best game. And I also hope that in so doing I can build my roll to a point where I don’t need to continue this arrangement. Obviously handing over 60% of profits is not ideal even if it entails no risk on my part.

  • Alec January 13, 2016 11:04 pm

    Well said Peter, now it’s just time to execute. Everyone has challenges, the key is just finding a system and strategy that works effectively for you. Your progress may be slower than you’d like, but it’s progress nonetheless. Also you’re building something bigger than your roll which has life value that’s more important than poker.

    There’s pleasure in that as well.
    Keep on keeping on, and if you want the system which I’ve used to build my roll over the years, as well as in depth strategy into the mental side of poker, check out my course Four Step Poker.


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