How to become the best poker player in the world

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Ask any poker player who they believe the best no limit hold’em tournament player in the world is right now and they’d be remiss not to say Michael Addamo.

If you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past couple of weeks, let us fill you in on Addamo’s recent success. The Australian flew into Las Vegas with just two events left on the Poker Masters schedule: a $50K and a $100K. Addamo won them both, for $680K and $1.16M respectively, and also claimed the purple jacket for the most points in the series.

Now here we are, only days later, and Addamo has added another major accolade to this already-impressive résumé, taking down the $300K buy-in Super High Roller Bowl VI for an incredible $3.4M.

He did all of this against some of the best players in the world.

For many, Addamo’s surge in dominance might seem like an overnight success. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here, we’re going to show you how Addamo became arguably the greatest no limit hold’em tournament player on the planet, with insights from BBZ himself, Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond.


Be confident (but never overconfident)

In his late teens, Addamo was an actuary student, fittingly studying the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty. But he wanted to be a professional poker player.

“Michael has grand ambitions,” wrote SBS, an Australian broadcast service who interviewed Addamo when he was just 19. “He’s had his losses, but says he made $30,000 in eight months and plans to pocket his first million before turning 25.”

Addamo had the confidence to set himself a lofty goal, one that now–aged 26 or 27–he’s surely exceeded many times over.

He began playing $0.25 tournaments and worked his way up to $100, $200, and $1K buy-ins, playing most days. “I really like the game so I wanted to put all my time into it,” he told SBS. “I was studying, watching on-line videos, tutorials and things like that trying to get better, and it all just went from there.”

It’s safe to assume when Addamo was building his bankroll, he didn’t let excessive confidence lead him to overreach in games where he didn’t have an edge.

“If you have a $10K bankroll and you’re playing $1K tournaments, it doesn’t matter how good you are,” says BBZ. “Unless you sun-run, you’re going to lose all your money.”.

Misplaced confidence has so many technicals. It might mean you’re playing in games that are too big. It might mean you’re playing in games that are too hard. It might mean you’re moving from one format of poker to another too soon without putting in the hard work.


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Never stop studying (even when things are going great)

Confidence in poker can only come from being consistent with your studying.

“[I do] a lot of solver work, a lot of computer stuff,” Addamo told somuchpoker.com. “It’s kind of what you need to do at that stage.”

Having already enjoyed plenty of big scores, Addamo’s breakout score was arguably his World Series of Poker win in 2018, taking down the $2,620 Marathon for $653K. Following that, he won his second bracelet at the 2018 WSOPE, winning the €25K High Roller for €848K.

A slew of high six-figure scores in big high rollers came next, before Addamo clinched his first seven-figure score in the $100K Super High Roller Bowl online, finishing second for $1.18M.

We mention all this simply to show that Addamo’s huge results over the past couple of weeks are by no means an overnight success. He has consistently worked hard for years and never stopped studying, even when things were going great.

Now many believe he’s pushing no limit hold’em to new heights.

“In my experience, inconsistency manifests itself in poker players most often when they have a big score,” says BBZ. “Say they win $150K. Maybe they’ve worked with me, handling everything properly, but then they go awol for three weeks, five weeks, a month and a half, three months. I’m like, dude where’d you go?

“You have to be consistent. You have to show up at the office every day. You have to study. There are things you need to do to be successful and they don’t involve taking two months off every time you win money.”

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Poker is volatile. You’re going to have periods where you don’t win anything and then these sharp periods where you win lots.

“You can’t just go partying every time you have an upswing,” says BBZ. “You’ll blow it.”

BBZ studies a lot and there’s a reason for it.

“The biggest thing you can do when you’ve had a horrible day and you’re going through a downswing is to go to sleep. Wake up. Study for an hour or two. Then play your next session knowing that you’re better than you were yesterday when you lost.”


Fear becoming irrelevant

The fact that Addamo’s performance at the Super High Roller Bowl has blown many a poker mind shows just how much Addamo is studying.

But the truth is, even a year ago many tournament players already believed him to be the best. He could have rested on his laurels. He could have become complacent.

He didn’t.

“If you only study when you feel like it, you run the risk of becoming a losing player. You risk becoming irrelevant,” says BBZ. “You don’t get to be the 98th best in the world or whatever. You might be 98th in the world today, but if you’re not studying your ass off, next week you’ll be 200th, and a month later you’ll be 1,000th.

“There’s just no way around it. If you’re out studying people, you can climb those rankings.”

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Understand that poker doesn’t owe you anything

If you’ve seen any of the winner’s interviews that Addamo has seemingly done daily of late, you’ll have seen how humble he is in victory.

“Obviously I realize how lucky I’ve been,” he told somuchpoker.com in 2018 after winning his second bracelet. “There is always a lot of luck involved so…that’s what I want to say really.”

Addamo understands that poker doesn’t owe him anything. He knows that just because he’s won in the past, doesn’t mean he gets to win in the future should he not continue to put the work in.

Likewise, BBZ has zero time for players who feel like they’re entitled to win.

“Success isn’t going to be handed to you,” says BBZ. “Nobody cares about what you’ve done in the past.”

When you enter a poker tournament, you’re competing. Why do you deserve to win the flip and not the player next to you? What are you doing to get better?

“There are killers out there who are studying all the time, putting in tons of work, grinding it out, watching videos on BBZPoker, they’re after it and they’re trying to get better,” says BBZ. “A sense of entitlement isn’t there with them.

“Then you’ve got guys who won money three, five, ten years ago and they cling to those victories. I’ve seen this in all forms. But today, they’re not studying or doing anything to deserve to win, but they still feel like they’re owed something.”

Don’t become complacent and never expect to win.

“You’ve got to keep up with your study, win or lose,” says BBZ. “Today I am a stronger player than I was yesterday and for that reason, I deserve to win more often than I deserved to yesterday.”

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