Joe Ingram's GTO Club Review
In August last year, I reached out to Joey to ask him for more details about his new "GTO Club". One short Skype call later and I was convinced it was exactly what I needed at that point in my life, so I became one of the original 12 or so members of the group. I was part of the group up until three days ago (Feb 20th) when I left, for various reasons I will talk about below.
Being part of the group has changed my life for the better in many ways, and I have grown more as a person in the last 6 months more than I have in the last 5 years. I don't want to "give away much strat" because it would obviously devalue Joey's product, but I will talk a bit about what I learned and why I think it was so helpful to me.
There is a lot of great content out there on how to become a more successful person, and the qualities needed to achieve your goals and maximise your potential. Having consumed a lot of it at the beginning of the club, I believe the requirements for success can be distilled down to quite simply this:
If you have the following three qualities, you will be successful in your chosen field: self-awareness, work ethic, and patience.
GTO Club helped me to become more self aware, by encouraging me to challenge my ideas and perceptions of myself, so much so that now I believe I can leverage this quality on my journey for success. Work ethic is something I have always struggled with - I have rarely, if ever, worked hard for something in my entire life. The group was inherently comprised of people working incredibly hard around me, and showing me they are putting in insane 16 hour days, every day of the week, which has somewhat helped me grow my capacity to work hard. Specifically, with poker, I have also worked very hard recently out of fear, which I discovered to be an incredibly powerful motivator, but that's something I will write about in another post. Finally, patience - I think it is sadly very difficult, perhaps impossible, to teach someone patience. It's a quality I am doing my best to improve on my own, but like so much of the rest of my generation, I want results now, not in two years’ time.
One of the main focuses of the group is accountability, a topic I have flip flopped on in the last few days since leaving. As someone who is chronically lazy, accountability seemed perfect for me at the start – I endeavoured to post in the forums daily with receipts showing that I had made tangible progress towards my goals that day, and usually some sort of synopsis of what I’d done that day or what had been on my mind. This was great for a number of reasons – it functioned as a journal for me, I was more productive to ensure I could write a good post every day, and I got to read other people’s threads to see how they were doing, get to know them better and be motivated by their hard work. Some days I would have a lot on my mind, and occasionally wrote long, cathartic, vulnerable posts in the forums. These would often get thoughtful responses from the other members of the group that would be filled with empathy and insight, giving me a lot of great advice in whatever situation I found myself in. The system worked perfectly for me at the start.
However, since leaving it feels like a huge weight off my shoulders not to have to post in the forums. I think this is due to the nature of the system - if I did not post on the forum, or did not achieve my daily targets, I felt guilty, ashamed, and like I was letting the other members of the group down. While it can sometimes be motivating to surround yourself with highly successful people who are firing on all cylinders all the time, I know personally sometimes I need to give myself some breathing room, and take a break for a day or two. I used to feel guilty if I took a break from poker to watch the LCS or play Overwatch – which is insane, given I love esports, probably more so than poker. I am fortunate in that I don’t need much, if any extrinsic motivation to work towards my main goals – I enjoy the gym so it’s easy for me to go multiple times a week, and I have put in close to 200 hours of poker this month with no real external motivating factors. Now I have left, I have my own systematic approach to the way I structure my time, but I no longer need to talk to anyone about it at all, and that feels great – I have loved myself more in the past three days than I have in the past two months since starting to play poker full time.
The group is very high intensity, which I don’t think suited me especially well. This was well articulated by another member, Ted, who said he didn’t understand why some members of the group said “LFG” (let’s fucking go) so much, to the point where they borderline punctuated their sentences with it. I thought about it a lot, and I don’t think I am really an LFG kind of person – I am not looking to fire up myself or other people, or to be all action, or to be constantly trying to push harder. I much prefer the approach taken by Ted and some others in the group: one of contemplation and slow, well thought out actions. In a way, I am trying to search for enlightenment, rather than grabbing life by the balls and subjecting it to my demands.
Finally, without doubt the best element of the group is the people in it. Everybody is very different, but each of them has a great story, and I learned a lot from every single person. There was nobody I didn’t get on with either, everyone was very friendly and open, and one of the things I learned as part of the group was the value of conversations. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I habitually avoid face to face conversation, especially about any kind of serious or personal topic, but I have been forced to re-evaluate. I now believe that if I want to continue to develop as a person, I am going to have to strive to have more open, honest conversations with people, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Everybody can offer you value, and everybody has a story to tell. I remarked to Joey in the first month that I would pay the $375/month just to talk to one of the members, Matt, and not have any other involvement with the group, and I really believed that he was worth that much to me. He has probably saved me that much money with what he taught me about the mental game of poker and money management alone, not to mention what I learned from him about emotional intelligence.
Overall I learned a lot during my time as part of the group (or “cult” as my friend affectionately refers to it as), and would recommend to anyone considering it to at least reach out to Joey to find out more about it.