The Talent Stack

On a recent podcast, we had a guy write in to us. He was making a decent wage from 100 NL. He was a profitable player and had the database to prove it. Still, he was working a job to get by. He wondered if he would ever make it, and if he should take some shots at tournaments to potentially change his situation.

I shut him down on the tournament idea right away. Any time you play poker desperately looking for money, then it becomes the worst game in the world. And it never works out. And if it does, that’s even worse then failing, because then you will get the bright idea to take a shot every time you’re down and out, for the rest of your life.
I gave him more advice after that. Good advice. But the email stuck in my head.

I had been in his position before. I had languished in the game for years and years while all my friends got ahead, and I played the exact same games. Some years saw me getting worse and moving down. There were times when I was told I had to give up. When I was in inner city Costa Rica, I actually had the girl I was with at the time tell me to go see if I could make money under the table at a call center.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, gave me the right advice. People either told me that Tony Robbins BS of "burn the boats!" or they told me to just quit and get a real job. Or, you know, do the responsible thing and get a loan for $60,000 to get a degree of variable usefulness.

What you actually want to do is diversify your bets.

I think Scott Adams has the best answer for listless men. He suggests that men develop what he calls a "talent stack."
He details in his book "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" how people with varying mediocre skills paired together end up doing much better in the world.

If you want to be the best in the world at something, that means you’ll literally have to become the one person out of 7,000,000,000+. To give you an idea of how unlikely that is, look at it this way: It would take us 217 years just to count every single person you’d have to beat out.

However, few people focus on becoming well-rounded. We’re told to go to school and specialize in one field. No one tells you to acquire a multitude of skills.

Yet, that’s exactly what will get you paid and recognized in this world.

The way the economy works is this: Supply and demand, right? You get that. The more people there are who can provide a service or product, the lower the price goes. The more specialized a product or service is, the higher the price goes.

You can become a specialized person. You can become desirable in working economies, poker economies, dating economies, and other economies purely through hard work.

Scott Adams points out that if there’s 20 people up for a management job in California, and only one of them speaks remedial Spanish, then that person is far more likely to get the job.

He puts together a list of skills that help people the most in life and in employment.

When I read that list I realized I was the stupidest luckiest person who ever lived.

When it comes to poker, I am good. Not great.

I was a writer before poker. I sold hundreds of articles, but everyone passed on my novel and script. Again, I was good, not great.

I learned how to use Powerpoint in high school. We were expected to use it in projects. Later, I would do Powerpoint presentations for training videos, because I knew I wouldn’t keep my job as an instructor based on my poker results. Eventually, I became a mediocre work horse with Powerpoint, with the ability to throw in some fun features.

I lived in Latin America for the better part of a decade. People there made fun of my Spanish constantly, because it was so bad. Yet, at the end, I could piece my way through any conversation.

My father is a fisherman. He got me a job as a fisherman. I started out the season as the worst sockeye salmon picker in the world and ended as a thoroughly mediocre contractor.

If you look at any of these skills individually, they don’t look like much.

But now if you’re looking for a professional poker player who can clearly communicate his strategies to you in book and

Powerpoint form, who are you forced to do business with?

You can even ask me your strategy questions in Spanish if you want.

I can take more risks in my business too, because if this all blows up I can go get my old job in commercial fishing.

You know what makes Aaron Rodgers who he is? Even when he’s throwing passes for fun in a parking lot, he’s challenging himself. He’s seeing if he can get the spiral a little tighter. He’s seeing if he can spot his throw to a pinpoint location.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

If you learn anything rapidly, it will help you learn anything rapidly in the future.

I cannot tell you how many successful people I have met who had another career before they became big. They were great at that job too, because discipline begets discipline.

If you’re making money in any form from poker, you’re ahead of 95% of the field. If you can develop a trade on the side, that’s even more security.

That time you spend in the trenches…it pays off later. Work ethic will save you again and again. Financial crises happen to everyone. If you know within yourself that you can work it off, then you will have faith in yourself that others would kill for.

If you’re washing dishes for a job right now, then become the best dishwasher there is. See if you can do it faster. See if you can make them cleaner. Don’t do it for your boss. Do it for yourself.

Do Duolingo Spanish every day, or learn whatever is the most common second language in your country. Learn how to cook healthier meals for yourself. Learn how to listen to other people while rephrasing what they just said, and ask follow-up questions for clarity. Learn how to work out and take care of your body.

If you do just these things it will put you ahead of the game. I cannot tell you how many women I’ve known who fell for a friend of mine just because he can listen and occasionally be fun and funny. Cooking healthier meals tends to save you a ton of money and time, while allowing you to have more energy. It’s like a steroid for your life and career. Working out has similar effects.

You also need to develop a trade. Even Aristotle believed you needed to be of service to others before anything happened for you.

No one wants to do trade jobs now. You can usually learn how to do them within two years, and then make good money within your first few years of employment. Sock that money away, and you’ll have plenty of time to play poker.

I hope these tips have been beneficial to you. Good luck to all of you. 

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