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30 Day Challenges to Build Good Poker Habits | Smart Poker Study Podcast #7


Sky Matsuhashi

on January 19, 2016

Use a 30 Day Challenge to instill new habits in your life and to achieve your goals.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


30 Day Challenge, Podcast #7

Podcast Mission

By the end of this podcast you will know how to build healthy habits with 30 Day Challenges and how to get the most out of the time spent completing the challenge.


Habits are something we repeatedly do and we find them hard to quit doing it.  They can be good (positively affect your life and those around you) or bad (yep, bad).  Today we're focusing on the good habits.

Awesome Quote:

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Excellence in any endeavor is long-term success and building great habits is a key to long-term success.  As discussed in episode 3 about the book ‘The ONE Thing,’ I talked about how discipline isn’t real, it’s just habits that you have that appear to be discipline to others.

Some healthy habits for poker players:

  • Daily study
  • Daily exercise
  • Eating healthy
  • Getting enough rest
  • Ranging opp’s with each hand played or observed
  • Always being aware of stack and pot size
  • Considering what to do on the next street before we act on the current street
  • Having opening ranges we follow for each hand we play

30 Day Challenges

Use a 30 Day Challenge to build good habits.  I have to admit that 30 days isn’t normally enough to build a habit, but it's a great place to start.  As I talked about in episode 3 about ‘The ONE Thing’ (there I go mentioning it again… Best. Book. Ever.) it takes an average of 66 days to build a new habit.  So, if you find success over the 30 days, hit it for another 30.  BAM!  Habit built!

5 Steps to a Successful 30 Day Challenge

Let’s look at the 5 Steps with one specific habit in mind that we want to build: the habit of poker study one hour every day.

1. Have a SMART Goal

This gives you a compelling reason to do the full 30 days: it will allow you to achieve a specific goal.  For example: “By the end of 30 days I want to have a strong grasp of SNG play so in the final 5 days of the challenge my ROI will be 20% over 150 SNG’s.”  This fits the SMART poker goal criteria and studying daily will help us achieve it.

2. Make a plan

Now that we have this 20% SNG ROI goal, we can make a plan to attain it while hitting our 30 day study challenge. So, maybe we’ll study each of the following SNG Topics for 4 days each: ES, MS, LS, OTB, ITM, ICM and HU.  That’s 7 topics for 28 days.  Spend the two additional days on studying common SNG leaks, and BAM, we’ve improved our SNG game and completed our 30 Day Challenge.  Two birds, one stone… word!

3. Start Small

If it’s new or tough, start small. Can't study for one full hour each day?  Start day one with 20 minutes and add 2 minutes per day to our study time.  On day 21 we’ll be at 60 minutes, and BAM, we’ve gradually built our tolerance up to 60 minutes.

4. Plan for failure

If it’s tough and worth doing, plan for failure.  Keep the following 3 words in mind: “Don’t miss twice”  For this particular challenge, if we miss a day we could wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal the next day and do 30 minutes of study, then later in the day do our normal study plan.  BAM!  We're caught up and back on track.

5. Create a Reward

You’re much more likely to succeed if you dangle a killer carrot out in front of you as a reward for completing the 30 days.   Reward yourself with something you've been wanting for a while.

Sign-up below to get my 30 Day Challenge Tracker – it will help you complete your challenge.

My 30 Day Challenge starting today: 30 days of podcasts!

Goal – By February 17th I will have 36 podcast episodes posted.  Why?  The more I practice now, the better podcaster I’ll be (and sooner).

Plan – I’ve got all 30 days of topics laid out.  I know when my interview and Q&A episodes will be, so I’ve just got to work the plan and record and post daily.

Start Small – not really doing this as I don’t feel it’s necessary.

Failure – If I fail to post an episode, the next day I'll do a quick Q&A episode, then follow it up with a normal strategy episode after that.  I promise you now that I won’t quit, and I won’t miss twice!

Reward – After posting each podcast, I will allow myself to watch one episode of Breaking Bad which I’ve never seen and my wife got the DVD’s for me for Christmas.

Podcast Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: set your own 30 day challenge!  Follow the 5 steps above and email me what your challenge is and why you’re doing it.  I’d love to go over all of these in a future podcast.


Sky Matsuhashi

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