Jeff Bezos’ popularity and wealth have soared in recent years. The Amazon CEO’s net worth is now $130 billion, which easily makes him the world’s richest man over Bill Gates ($92b).
It’s no surprise that many people aspire to be like Bezos when considering his meteoric rise. This is especially the case in the business world, where people can adopt the 54-year-old’s methods to improve their performance.
But you might be surprised to know that poker players can also benefit by following Bezos’ habits and path to success.
How is this the case? Keep reading as I discuss several things that Bezos currently does/has done and how they apply to becoming a better poker player.
Set Clear, Long Term Poker Goals
One of the lesser-discussed reasons why poker players fail is that they don’t set long-term goals. Many people only have a vague goal of eventually making profits.
While it’s nice to have a goal, simply telling yourself that you want to be a winning player doesn’t create a roadmap for success.
This is where poker players can learn from how Bezos turned Amazon from an online book retailer into the world’s most-successful eCommerce store.
Bezos started Amazon in 1994 with a vision of offering millions of book titles on one website. He wanted to create more convenience for those who sometimes visited multiple brick-and-mortar bookstores to find what they needed.
But having a huge online bookstore was only part of Bezos’ vision. Back when he was working on Wall Street, he saw a study that showed how internet usage had grown 2,300% from 1993 to 1994.
This inspired Bezos to conceptualize the “everything store,” which would one day offer everything people needed through a single website.
This goal was easier said than done, especially since Amazon failed to earn significant profits for 20 years. Detractors labeled Amazon as a growing bookstore that didn’t make any money.
But pundits failed to see how Amazon was transitioning into much more than an online bookstore. These same critics have been proven wrong over the past few years, with Amazon successfully moving into countless spaces.
Poker players don’t have to start a company that earns over $100 billion in annual revenue. But they should learn from Bezos and have an end goal accompanied by various steps to reach this dream.
Here’s an example on poker goal setting:
- End goal: become a successful poker player who averages six figures annually.
- Step 1 – study strategy for five hours per week and conquer the online micro-limit cash games.
- Step 2 – study strategy for seven hours per week and beat low-stakes, no-limit cash games.
- Step 3 – study the same amount of strategy, increase playing volume, and beat mid-stakes cash games.
- Step 4 – become an established pro at the $50/$100 online no-limit stakes.
Any successful plan should have more details on each step. But this is a broad overview of the type of long-term planning you can do to reach your poker goals.
Dare to Have Irrational Goals
The goal of making six figures in poker is a lofty one—especially today. Some might even think that you’re being irrational by expecting to win so much money through a game.
But few goals are more daring than planning to create an everything store. This is especially true when coming from an online book retailer that failed to make serious profits for two decades.
Few would have given Amazon a chance to compete with retail giants like Walmart when they started out. But Bezos is like many other great entrepreneurs in that he makes the impossible seem possible.
Steve Jobs dreamed big when introducing the iPhone to compete in an already established mobile market. Now, many consider iPhones to be the standard for elite smartphones.
Reed Hastings disrupted both the movie rental and cable/satellite TV businesses with Netflix, which now streams thousands of movies and TV shows directly into people’s homes.
Bezos is much like Jobs and Hastings in that he didn’t just develop a successful company and become rich. He also changed the game and how retail is done.
Many brick-and-mortar chains are now struggling to compete with Amazon. According to CheatSheet, Amazon is crushing iconic brands like Target, Macy’s, Staples, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Foot Locker, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Poker players don’t have to make the world change orbit just to be successful. But you also shouldn’t be afraid to make lofty long-term goals.
If you want to win a record number of World Series of Poker gold bracelets, then figure out the steps to achieve this goal. If you want to win $1 million in cash game profits, make sure you’re well prepared and go for it.
Think Long Term with Your Goals
Many poker players have trouble with obsessing over the short term. They get angry when they have a losing session and may even think that the game is rigged.
If you set an ambitious goal like making over $1 million in online poker, then you can’t expect it to happen overnight. Instead, you must realize that reaching your goal won’t always be a smooth journey.
In Bezos’s case, it took him over 20 years to reach his goal of making Amazon the everything store. And the path was filled with plenty of failures, which I’ll discuss later.
Of course, Bezos knew that it would take a long time to transform Amazon from a simple startup into a platform where people buy everything from electronics to pet supplies.
Poker players need the same mindset when pursuing goals. It doesn’t take 20 years to become a successful player, but it also doesn’t usually happen within one or two years either.
This is why you should never rush yourself into higher stakes than you’re prepared for. Instead, you can adopt a long-term approach and methodically work towards your goal.
If you want to earn six figures annually through poker, for example, you could plan to reach this goal in 5-7 years.
Don’t Obsess Over Money
Poker players tend to focus too much on money, versus if they’re playing well and improving. Money isn’t always a great measure of how well you’re doing in poker.
This game is filled with variance, because the cards you’re dealt create a large luck element. Therefore, the best players don’t always win in the short run.
But players who focus on improving their skills and studying strategy can eventually become long-term winners.
Jeff Bezos is much like a skilled poker player in that he hasn’t obsessed over money when building Amazon. He instead focused on the necessary steps to reach his goals in the early years.
As I mentioned earlier, Amazon didn’t earn serious profits until after 20 years of being in business. It wasn’t until this point that Amazon completed Bezos’ vision of being the everything store.
Now, the future looks bright for the company as they pull in over $100 billion in revenue every year. This shows that if you focus on doing everything right instead of short-term earnings, then you have a strong chance to become successful in the long run.
Poker players can also benefit from this mindset, because putting effort into learning strategy and improving will provide you a long-lasting benefit.
Treat Every Day like it’s Your First in the Poker World
Bezosis applauded for having a unique mindset where he treats every day like it’s Amazon’s first day. The idea is to act as if Amazon is a hungry startup, rather than a bloated, multibillion-dollar corporation.
Bezos shared this idea in a 2016 letter to shareholders, where he discussed the problems that happen when you lose the startup feeling.
“Day two is stasis,” he wrote.“Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Amazon has over 350,000 employees and a massive network of distribution stores. Nevertheless, Bezos looks beyond this to keep the hungry mentality that propels the company over the years.
Some of the things that Amazon does to retain its startup mentality include keeping a sense of urgency, making quick decisions, and embracing new trends that other companies are afraid to try.
Poker players can certainly benefit from this mentality as well.
Imagine an experienced player who comes into every day like they’re just starting out with the game. This player watches pros on Twitch, reads strategy articles, and reviews every session to see where they could’ve played certain spots better.
Compare this to another experienced player, who dedicates all their time to the felt and none towards learning. They have the mindset that they’re too good to study strategy on a regular basis and should instead concentrate on making money.
Who do you think is going to be the better long-term player in these cases? Keeping the same hunger that Amazon has for over two decades is an excellent way to approach poker.
Get Your Rest
High-powered CEOs are known for getting very little sleep compared to the average person. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, President Donald Trump, and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi are among those who only clock four hours of sleep per night.
When looking at how many successful people don’t get regular sleep, it seems like a requirement that you must forgo rest to succeed. But this is another area where Bezos the takes an unconventional approach.
Despite having a packed schedule and running an eCommerce giant, Bezos still finds time to get in the recommended amount of sleep.
He’s been quoted many times as saying that he sleeps 18 hours per night, which helps him come into work “energized and excited.”
As CNBC reported, Bezos sees sleep as something that helps him make the best decision as possible on a regular basis.
“Mostly, as any of us go through our lives, we don’t need to maximize the number of decisions we make per day,” Bezos said. “If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion.”
If the world’s richest man can get a good night’s sleep, than the average poker player should follow suit. This is especially the case when considering that poker involves countless decisions in any given session.
It’s hard to stay atop your game when you’ve only had 4-5 hours of sleep. And while sacrificing sleep my help you play poker an extra hour or two, your skills won’t be as sharp.
Know How to Deal with Failure
Amazon didn’t experience a straight shot to success. Instead, Bezos and his company had plenty of obstacles along the way.
Bezos himself is a perfect example of perseverance and overcoming drawbacks. He had a massive failure in 1998 after buying Junglee—a price comparison site—and losing $170 million.
Amazon tried to compete with eBay through Amazon Auctions the following year. This would result in another costly failure for both Bezos and the company.
He hit rock bottom in 2000, when he lost hundreds of millions of dollars through the dot-com bubble. His investments like Pets.com and Gear.com went belly up, taking a significant amount of his net worth with them.
But Bezos fought through this rocky three-year period and eventually turned the corner. And while Amazon has still experienced hiccups along the way, like the failure of Amazon Jewelry (2004), they’ve continued going upwards after the dot-com bubble.
Ask any poker pro about their struggles, and they’ll have numerous stories of things going wrong. But it’s a player’s ability to fight through these problems that make them successful in the end.
You may have downswings that last for weeks or even months. But as long as you continue working on your skills and playing well, then your results will improve.
Always Have an Eye Towards Moving Up
Imagine if Jeff Bezos had simply been satisfied with making Amazon the world’s biggest online book retailer.
He’d no doubt have a successful company and still be rich. But he also wouldn’t be the legend that he is today.
Bezos has never been afraid to move up and challenge boundaries. Furthermore, he’s never comfortable and resting on his laurels.
This is a good mindset for poker players who may get nervous when it comes time to moving up the ladder. Some people enjoy staying at their current stakes and making consistent profits.
But if you want to be bold like Amazon, then you need to get outside your comfortable zone and take the next challenge.
Sure, you may struggle to produce a consistent win rate when moving from $0.50/$1 NL hold’em to $1/$2 tables. But you can eventually learn how to beat these limits and make even more money.
Take the Plunge into the World of Professional Poker
Upon graduating from the University of Princeton with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 1996, Bezos immediately wanted to start a company.
But he instead took a job with a startup. Two years later, he was working on Wall Street in a stable job with good benefits.
The desired to own a business never ceased, though, and he quit his job in 1994 to form Cadabra Inc. (later Amazon).
This was a big leap of faith, because Bezos went against his parents’ wishes to quit a solid job. He also moved out to Seattle to launch Cadabra.
Things were initially slow for Bezos and the future of Amazon. He put $10,000 into the company and worked in a garage with his wife and two programmers.
Bezos would ramp up the company by attracting outside investments over the next few years, which helped Amazon take off. But it took lots of courage for Bezos to ignore his parents’ advice and leave a safe job to enter the business world.
I’m in no way goading you to quit your day job and embark on a professional poker career. But if this is your long-term goal and you’ve successfully worked your way up the stakes, then you should think about taking the plunge.
Exiting the safe route in favor of a professional poker career casts plenty of doubt. And not every good poker player experiences longevity as a pro.
Of course, the same is true in Bezos’ world, where many internet startups have failed. The key is that you need the courage to pursue your vision.
Highly successful people think differently from the average person. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have the vision to build huge companies and accumulate enormous wealth.
Jeff Bezos has proven himself one of the greats with regard to vision, planning, and perseverance. And poker players can learn a lot from the man who changed how retail is done.
You can use Bezos as inspiration to make big goals and work your way towards poker success. When doing so, it’s important to realize that the benefits don’t come easily.
Some poker players have busted their bankrolls many times before catching on and becoming skilled pros. Likewise, Bezos and Amazon overcame many challenges that left them on the brink of failure.
The key is to stick to your long-term plan and keep treating every day as if it’s your first in the game. Provided you keep this mindset, then your poker skills have nowhere to go but up.