Patrick Leonard tells how he managed to cope with envy and negative emotions that poisoned his life several years ago.
Today’s video is the most personal and emotional of all on this channel. Some of you will be able to change your life for the better thanks to him. I did it. Before the described event, I was an extremely unfriendly person, after which I began to turn into the most positive version of myself. To change, I needed to realize my ill will and want to get rid of the negative background. What happened? I just talked to the person I was spreading negativity to, and he helped me become different.
To understand my emotional state, let’s go back to 2015.
The main driving force behind my poker career from the very beginning has been the desire for recognition. I wanted to be considered a high level player. When my bankroll was only NL10, I considered it critical to earn the respect of NL100 regulars. I wrote very long, elaborate forum posts, and I was willing to spend many hours working on theory for them to impress the reputable regulars. By climbing NL100, I aimed to win the hearts of NL5k players. It was recognition that was my motivation and the only criterion for success. The amount of money won did not matter at all.
In 2014-2015, I several times climbed to 1st place in the Pocketfives tournament ranking and never dropped below the top 10. The natural next step for a successful internet player is going from online to offline: EPT, WPT, WSOP. Victories in these tournaments allow you to get on television, give universal recognition, give meaning to hard work over many years.
I started playing one EPT after another and missed the prize in 15 events in a row, I think. And then people began to whisper behind my back … or, more precisely, I decided that people began to whisper. I do not exclude that their negative attitude towards me was just a figment of my imagination. Here, they say, his luck ended … another internet user who could not rebuild for offline … and so on. I started to suffer from impostor syndrome. Found I have no idea what is the correct flop cbet sizing and what should be the turn sizing on the board … It seems that I’m not nearly as good as everyone thinks, and the more offline tournaments I plant, the more people will know that I’m just pretending to be a top reg.
I continued to play tournaments one after the other without any glimpses of success. However, instead of diving into my work, doing theory, or understanding my psychology deeper, I chose to direct the negativity towards stronger players. Are people below me in the food chain throwing mud at me? Never mind, I can do the same for the more successful, wealthy and popular! I began to closely monitor the actions of a group of players live and on the Internet, trying to find mistakes in their strategy. If they were betting, for example, a 60% continuation bet on the flop , I opened Piosolver and tried to prove that it was bad. And when I was able to establish with the help of a solver that this or that action was a mistake, I immediately sent the distribution to friends with a comment like: “Look what kind of game he is doing!”
This kind of ill will towards these players hindered my own progress in the game and in life. And one night in Prague, when I was watching a game in a super high roller tournament, I suddenly realized that I was gradually turning into an evil person. Well, maybe not directly into the evil one, but definitely into the unfortunate and sarcastic. I realized that I had to contact people whom I regularly wrote nasty things to all year, and apologize to them. I wrote three very sincere messages. It is hard for me to remember this, but now I will quote you one of the letters.
Again, at that moment I reached the highest point in my career and increased my bankroll from 30k to 500k. I had many reasons to be happy, but I still found reasons to feel unhappy. In part, I was influenced by the people around me who were subject to negative attitudes towards life, but the main fault was on myself. By focusing all my efforts on perfecting my poker skills, I lost sight of the balance in life. Tormented by the frustration that not everything works out the way I want it, I never once thought about stopping and reminding myself how much progress I had already achieved. I couldn’t consider myself successful; only those who are higher are successful. And the horizon is constantly receding. Once I get to the level of Jason Mercier, I want to be Phil Ivey. After catching up with Phil Ivey, I will chase after Daniel Negreanu. Having caught up with Negreanu, I want to catch up, I don’t know, Dan Bilzerian. It is an endless race with no room for joy and self-love. Please never forget to look back on the path you have traveled from time to time and remind yourself that you are happy with the progress you have made. Otherwise, negative emotions will eat you up completely.
Of course, before releasing this video, I contacted this legendary player and got his consent to publish. His return letter had a huge impact on me. This is a great example of how you can respond to evil with good and change someone’s life. I hope my video will help some of you.
The person we’re talking about is Jason Kuhn.
We didn’t know each other. He has already gone the way I was going, stopped playing online and completely switched to expensive offline, games in Macau, etc. I wrote to him in December, and we exchanged a couple of phrases.
Hello, are you in Prague? If you’re not too busy, I would like to talk to you for five or ten minutes about something that worries me.
I’m in Vegas for two days. Hope it’s okay?
Yes, tomorrow I’ll send you a detailed message 🙂 Have a nice day.
That sounds good. Good night.
I didn’t go on. However, a week later, Jason sent me another message:
Hey, you never wrote me anything. So what did you want to talk about?
Can you imagine? He wrote to me himself, although I was nothing to him, and he probably receives hundreds of private messages from strangers. (They write to me quite often, and I try to answer, but I hardly ever wrote to the person myself, worrying where he disappeared!) His reaction struck me pleasantly. And a day later I wrote him a big letter. As you can see, it was posted at 4:26 am, probably after the end of the online session. I will now read this letter, interrupting from time to time for comments.
Hello! Nothing really special. I tried it a couple of times, but it was kind of dull nonsense, so I never sent anything. Basically, it all comes down to the fact that I want to apologize to you.
(So it was. I wanted to tell him everything, but I didn’t know how to approach. “Hi, man, listen, there is such a thing, I said nasty things about you! I thought you were indecently lucky. I thought that you were not you deserve your results. “Like that, right? Every time there was some kind of nonsense. I don’t know him at all. How do I know what he deserves? How do I know if he is lucky or not, I have not seen his graph with a line EV! And in life we are not familiar, and at the tables almost did not intersect.)
For the past year, I seem to have lacked either maturity or self-confidence, and I kind of poured mud at you behind your back. This happened only when communicating with my close friends whom you do not know, I never said nasty things about you in public, but for some reason I had strange problems with you and two other players.
(Something about these guys pissed me off, and I could not understand what exactly. And then I suddenly realized: they were all one level higher than me. They went the same way as me, but they climbed higher and showed excellent results, but for some reason I couldn’t. It took me eight months to realize this!)
I think it’s most likely a matter of envy. Due to performances in expensive tournaments, I went through a slight depression.
(I don’t know what clinical depression is. I didn’t study medicine. I was just sad; I had depression in the everyday sense. Now I don’t really like using this word.)
Online I have always been among the best in any format, I was pleased to be looked up to.
(I was one of the elite coaches at PokerStrategy, a site with 9 million subscribers. I didn’t coach for the money, but to be considered one of the top players in the world. My blog got 6 million views. I didn’t write for fame, but for recognition. have a reputation as a top player. I now have a YouTube channel for that.)
However, I do not perform at all in live tournaments and especially against high rollers. I really want to confirm my level – not for myself, for others, and it is incredibly difficult for me to live with the image of an “online player who could not adapt to live play” when I see that I am just doing very badly. I think my problem is rooted in this.
(I repeat again: I have no idea if I had a similar image, if anyone paid attention to my failures offline. 15 EPT tournaments without prizes – anyone will say that this is a banal variance. I can play 50 tournaments on Sunday and nowhere to get into the money, and it will not surprise anyone. All the negativity happened first of all in my head. I was extremely unfriendly to others and I am quite sure that the players below a level say nasty things about me.)
When I crossed paths with one of the three of you online, I reacted to all even dubious hands like: “Oh my God, it’s just awful!”, Forgetting that you are incredibly smart people and strong players, and either I myself misunderstand this situation and can learn something, or you deviate from the standard deliberately in order to exploit the field, etc.
Be that as it may, this did not happen often, because we rarely played at the same table, but my behavior was definitely beyond the bounds of decency (although I wrote nasty things about you only to close friends, not releasing anything into the public space). Actually, I’m a very positive person, and it’s hard for me to remember what a bastard I was during those months.
(By the way, when I wrote this confession, I did not rule out that Jason Kuhn might just kick me in the face when he met. He is so healthy!)
Perhaps my letter seems ridiculous to you or you consider me a rare asshole, but I just wanted to speak out and remove the stone from my soul. I have no complaints about you, I’m only dissatisfied with myself.
Hopefully someday we can have lunch or a drink (I treat) and talk. Poker is a very demanding game that can drive you crazy at times.
I was 24 years old. A young guy with a million dollars and no consultant psychologist. I had to speak out, but you can’t discuss such problems with your parents or friends. Because you have to appear strong and not look boring.
After sending this letter, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
On the same day, about eight hours later (he was probably in America and just woke up), I received the answer:
I was afraid to read on. The message went unread for several months. You know this feeling, when you wrote an important letter and seemed to turn the page, everything is fine with you – and when the answer comes, you absolutely don’t want to read it so as not to spoil anything.
After a few months, I again felt the anger return. The successes I was waiting for were still not coming. And then I went back to our correspondence with Jason and read his answer. The answer that changed my life.
This is a very deep and personal letter. I understand your feelings well. I think they are often found in people with a sporty character. Every day I have to remind myself that I should feel grateful, and not harass myself with the thoughts you wrote about.
(Wow! It turns out that he experiences the same feelings. How was I to know that I was not alone, I was afraid to discuss such topics.)
Yesterday I was eliminated from the PCA 100k tournament. He smiled, shook hands with everyone, said how pleased I was to play with them. On the way to my room, I was overwhelmed with emotions, and my brain reminded of all the tournaments from which I flew out with huge equity. When I got to my room, I closed the door, took a deep breath, and tears rolled down from my eyes. Then I immediately thought about people who enjoy upstroke, money, fame and universal admiration – all that I miss so much and that I undoubtedly deserve.
(And again – wow! Perfectly accurate description of my feelings. But if this happens to Jason – a playboy, a favorite of the poker gods and so on, then everyone else is experiencing the same? Why did I boil in my own bile for years, why not wanted to open up to someone? ..)
“I deserve it …” Where do you draw the line?
I was born into a poor family of a single mother. My father went to jail for violence against loved ones.
(Of course, I would never have published this sincere and very personal letter if I had not received Jason’s consent. Well, he has already told his biography more than once in interviews, for example, Lee Davy …)
I grew up on welfare, constantly fought, and at the age of 17 I was even arrested after a chase. At least a few times I have been in situations with less than 50% chance of survival. My mental capacity is probably pretty average.
(With these introductions, he had a lot more reasons for envy than me! He had to overcome many more obstacles. I came from the most ordinary, normal family, my parents worked and provided me with everything I wanted. If Jason is able to be positive, I have no right to look at life negatively!)
I am playing an intellectual game and somehow quite successfully. I would not have had a single chance if it had not been for a blind chance, luck: I met the smartest people who, with amazing generosity, began to teach me the intricacies of this game.
(I read and again see a 100% hit. I play poker well not because of my amazing talents, but because I was surrounded by guys like € urop € an, ELMERIX, ImFromSweden … They shared their thoughts with me and strategies, criticized for every mistake, fixed holes in logical thinking … I was very lucky with my friends; I know many players who had to fight their way alone. And sometimes it is even worse – negative friends who pull you to the bottom.)
Come to think of it, I’m not at all convinced that I deserve more than I already have.
Since childhood, we are all thrown into this conveyor. We go in for sports, find out how victory is different from defeat. Having barely learned to walk, we already distinguish the strong from the weak. The world demands victories and conquests from us. People admire those who win and take everything for themselves. The losers are insignificant. I don’t know how much of this is natural, and how much is superficial, from society. I think everyone should, at some point, go beyond what our parents, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues call success and develop their own model of success that will allow them to experience a sense of fulfillment and keep the joy of life. I cannot say that I have reached the heights of mastery, but even a few steps along this path allow me to get away from evil thoughts.
(Approval of parents, teachers, approval of bosses at work … We are always dependent on others, other people give us marks, measure our success on a common scale, not paying attention to the fact that we are all different people with different inclinations and talents. we achieve the maximum we are capable of in some subject, but we are given a three with a minus, and we begin to consider it a major failure, we are ashamed of our achievement and envy our comrades who easily get fours and fives … This is wrong.
Jason ends the letter with an incredibly pleasant compliment. Let me remind you: I just wrote to him that I told my friends nasty things about him. He has no reason to be polite.)
You are obviously a unique person. An outstanding master at what he does, while maintaining the humility and introspection needed for personal growth and a happy life. I hope you continue to explore yourself and find the origins of your feelings.
PS Sometimes I do play really terrible hands.
This letter brought me one of the greatest insights in my life. Jason texted me in January. I read his answer in October. And I realized what kind of person I want to be. I once wanted to be as successful as Jason Kuhn, longed for his victories and fame. After this letter, I wanted to learn the philosophy of life of Jason Kuhn. Poker success didn’t bother me anymore.
Since then, I’ve learned pretty well how to motivate myself and praise various small accomplishments. I am discussing my approach with friends, I recently talked about it with apestyles. I consider it important to learn to love yourself and find reasons for joy. Perhaps I’ll tell you exactly what I’m doing. If you want to laugh, write nasty things about me in the chat on WhatsApp, please, it doesn’t bother me. This method helps me, and maybe it will help someone else.
A couple of hours before the session, I turn off everything that can distract me, and contact the person who is grateful for what he once did for me. We may not have spoken for a month or two, but I regularly think of him and his deed. I thank him and explain how helpful his help was to me. These conversations remind me of how great other people play in my success. I start the day positively.
During the session, I say thank you to myself from time to time. This may sound ridiculous, please mock me. For 10 years now I have been working 10 hours a day almost every day. I have achieved a lot and I thank myself for the fact that I can provide myself with the game that I sincerely love.
By midnight to 1 am, I remind myself: I’m pretty lucky in poker. Usually the bad things come to mind – setups, lost all-ins and so on. However, this was preceded by a year of busting in EV, 11 plus months in a row, and so on. It was impossible to get to my current position without luck.
After the end of the session (and in MTT, most sessions fail) it is very easy to go to bed in a bad mood, angry with yourself and your opponents. Therefore, I will definitely remind myself once again how incredibly lucky I am with my job. When you play poker, you don’t always enjoy the game. Grind is not perceived as a hobby – a lot of difficult decisions, a lot of emotions … However, this is a great game that I love very much, and I am grateful to fate and other people that I can continue to play it.
And thanks again to Jason Kuhn for responding to my letter.