Part of being the best you can be is focusing on what it takes to get there. We’re continuing the “What does it take…?” column, which looks at this aspect of being the best. This month, we’re chatting with poker player and media personality Liv Boeree.
How do you become a poker player?
I learned to play on a TV show that took complete beginners and taught them how to play Texas hold ‘em, the most popular variant of the game. I was fresh out of university and was at a loss at what industry to move into. Fortunately, I loved everything to do with poker and started doing some reporting and TV presenting, along with playing whenever I could.
What is the best thing about being a poker player?
The freedom it gives me. I can pretty much choose whenever I play and therefore get a lot of time to dedicate to my other goals and passions such as TV presenting, science and adventuring. I also love the incredible friends I’ve made from it. I have the most fascinating, open-minded, international group of friends I could ever hope for.
It’s been said that poker isn’t gambling because it’s a game of skill. There’s a reason the same people are in the World Series every year. Do you have anything to say about this statement?
Poker involves both skill and luck, so yes, it is a form of gambling that you can use skill and theory to capitalise on opponents’ inferior skills. In regards to the World Series, anyone can enter it. However, you will often see similar faces appearing due to these players being more skilful than the average contestant.
Based on the few poker championships I have watched, it seems to be largely a ‘man’s game’. Why do you think this is?
Poker is for anyone that loves competition, challenging decisions, and adrenaline. There are more and more women learning and doing well in the game each year – it’s just that old social tendencies take a while to balance out. When poker first became popular in the 1970s and ‘80s, I believe that women were perhaps discouraged to play. But as gender equality increases in society, more women who enjoy a challenge have taken up the game. I think poker will become much more mixed over the next ten years.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
I can’t pick out any one person over others. I have huge admiration for those who dedicate their lives to advancing humanity, particularly in respects to our treatment of the planet and finding ways to live in harmony and respect of other species. Those who are constantly fighting to provide cleaner, more sustainable energy and put their selfish desires aside for the betterment of everyone.
What’s your proudest moment been?
Career wise, winning the European Poker Tour in Italy in 2010. However, I’m learning that my proudest achievements occur whenever I realise there’s something that I want to change about myself and actually fully succeed in doing it. Fixing the leaks in thinking and behavioural patterns that we all have, for example. It’s a constant work in progress, but when you or others notice positive change can be a great moment.
What did you want to be when you were little?
When I was really young, I wanted to be horse. When that didn’t work out, I went for something a little more realistic such as an astronaut or fighter pilot. Then I wanted to be a tornado chaser and study storms, and then an astronomer. That lead me to go and study my degree in astrophysics – something I enjoy hugely.
When last did you see the sunrise?
Sunday, after a long online poker session.
How do you relax?
Sports and running around in nature mostly. I love anything outdoors – especially in the mountains. It’s a shame we don’t have more of them around London. I am also a big party animal. I love to dance and get lost in good music.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Bringing happiness, understanding, and rationality to people’s lives. That would be awesome.
How do you apply your poker skills to your life away from the table?
I’ve learned that sometimes, no matter how great you play or how optimally you’ve created a situation, the cards just don’t go your way, and you have to accept that. It’s slowly teaching me not to stress about the things you truly can’t control or influence – something that definitely applies in many parts of life.