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My 2017 SMART Poker Goals | Podcast #121


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 17, 2017

I give my SMART Poker Goals for 2017 and they DO NOT center around making money this time.  Plus I give you 6 example goals you can keep for yourself.

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


Why I Make Smart Poker Goals and My Why (2:45)

I love setting goals.  They give me something to shoot for, a target to put all my effort towards in order to move the needle forward.  Goals give me direction in life.  I have goals for poker, as a husband and a father, and as an entrepreneur.

I really enjoy all aspects of my poker path through life.  I’m a poker coach, podcaster, video maker, entrepreneur and a poker player.  The goals I set all help me to become better in each of these aspects.

Ultimately, I want to make my career and my living centered around poker, and everything I do is geared towards this.  I'm hoping to eventually make a comfortable living for myself and my family in the poker world.

What I would like you to do before you set your SMART poker goals is to figure out your why.  Why are you a player?  What do you want out of poker?  The goals you set should be dependent upon where you want your poker journey to take you.

What Makes a Goal SMART? (4:15)

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.  Without these 5 aspects in place, a goal is often just a random pie in the sky dream.  It’s like saying your goal is to win the Main Event one day.  That’s not a goal, that’s just a dream.  A better, SMART goal would be:

“I will play in the $10,000 Main Event in 2018 by saving $560 per month starting February 2017.”


Goals must be written clearly and simply, defining exactly what you intend to accomplish.

  • This ME goal is a very specific goal, detailing exactly what year you will play and the exact event.


Goals must be measurable. Without measurements, you can’t really know you’ve achieved them.  And, a very important aspect of this is that measurable goals allow you to break it up into milestones to make the pursuit more possible.

  • With this goal, you know exactly how much money you have to save per month for 18 months to have the $10K.  As the months pass, you know exactly how close you are to achieving your goal as you save towards it.


Goals must be achievable and not impossible. They should stretch you and force you to work hard, but it can’t be so obviously out of reach that you were doomed from the get go.  You need to have the knowledge, skills or abilities to achieve the goal, or be able to plan how you’re going to possess those things.  And ultimately, achievable goals should be a motivation, impossible goals are de-motivators.

  • This ME goal is totally achievable. It all depends on your income or your ability to withdraw from your bankroll or your skills at bringing in more moola.


Your goal needs to matter to you and those around you. If your goal is to make millions playing poker, then striving to play in the ME is a no brainer.  But, if you’re a cash game lover, you’d be better off skipping the main and targeting something else.  Also, if your family and friends are down with your goal, it’s easier to achieve because you’ll have their support.  If your wife or husband is always complaining about your poker trips and tournament losses, then heading to the ME might not be the best idea.


There must be a time-frame for your goals. One thing I know from experience is that any task expands to fit the time allotted to it, so a goal without an end date could take years to attain.  Deadlines add a sense of urgency.  Also, having no time-frame is just one less incentive for you to achieve your goal.

  • For the ME goal, saving monthly for 18 months will put you just over $10,000 by July of 2018, completing your goal just in time.




My SMART Poker Goals for 2017 (10:40)

Goal #1: I will study at least one hour per day 6 days per week for the entire year.

  • This is how I “sharpen the axe.” As I learn more, I can teach more, my podcasts and other content will be more informative and my poker play will improve as well.  More poker skills will translate to better results in every other aspect of my poker life.

Goal #2: I will publish one poker book every 4 months in 2017; one by April, one by August and one by December.

  • This goal will force me to write more frequently and to produce content, which is what all the best

Goal #3: I will coach 6 sessions per week beginning in March, April and May.

  • I want to coach more, and this goal will force me to offer my coaching services more and will bring in more non-poker play income. At the end of May I will then decide if 6 sessions per week is good or if I should coach even more.

Some SMART Poker Goal Examples (12:40)

  • LIVE Player: I will play 2 LIVE tournaments at the local card room every month until I head to the WSOP.
  • Forum Lover: I will post one hand per day in (forum) and reply to three hands per day through February.
  • Video Watcher: I will watch one of Splitsuit’s videos every day in February and March, taking detailed notes on each and find one nugget of wisdom from each video to apply to that day’s session.
  • Aspiring Podcaster: I will begin my own weekly poker podcast by May of 2016 that will be called My Micro Stakes Mission and will detail my journey through the micros.
  • Multi-Tabler: I will increase my multi-tabling abilities from 2 tables to 6 tables by systematically adding one table at a time until I feel comfortable and can win at my current win rate. I will be up to 6 tables by May 31st.

Challenge (14:05)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Make your own SMART Poker Goals for 2017 or even month to month.  One or more, that’s up to you.  Please send me your goals so I can see what you’re up to and maybe help you along the way.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

The NUTTS (Notably Urgent Things To Study, 15:30)

To continue your studies into goal setting, achieving your dreams and self improvement, here are 2 items to study:

  1. The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Having a singular focus on the thing that will move the needle the most will really help you achieve your goals.  Keller and Papasan lay out a great idea of finding that ONE thing that once completed, will make everything else easier or unnecessary.
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book blew me away the first time I read it, and it will blow you away as well.  Plus, if you’re an ‘80’s fan like I am, you’ll get all nostalgic at the zillions of cool references in the book.  So, this book is about a teenager who lives in an awesome virtual world and has one goal in life, and he pursues it to nth degree.  It’s not necessarily about goal achievement, but it shows the power of devoting everything and every waking moment to one super rewarding goal.  I highly recommend it, and you should read it before the movie comes out.

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Sky Matsuhashi

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