The long road that molds a future poker and martial arts champion

GSP Playing Poker

GSP Playing Poker

Opportunities are usually grabbed by those who are willing to risk it all for the sake of a dream, those who are raring to jump the gun when nature allows them to, and those who go all out without utter disregard to one’s own life. These daredevils regularly tread a fine line between personal glory and nationalistic pride. So whether one is a fan of No Limit Texas Hold’em poker or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they’ve surely seen inspiring athletes with abilities that go beyond the borders of human capabilities and a country’s area of responsibility.

Before poker achieved mainstream success, only the World Series of Poker’s Main Event tournament would be considered as an hour-long show on ESPN. But today, it’s impossible to surf through channels and not see a couple of re-runs and delayed telecasts of various poker events. The good thing about the game is that it’s one the very few competitions that allows anyone to participate in. As always, options are readily available on the table. While some sift through PartyPoker’s official Twitter account for online qualifying tournaments, others grab life by the horns and boldly put $10,000 at risk – paying a typical buy-in fee. The point is that not only do these brave souls have the unique opportunity to play – and beat – the likes of Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and Gus Hansen; they also have the golden chance of carrying their country’s flag in international competition. It’s like giving an 18-year-old Manny Pacquiao the rare chance of representing {the Philippines} in a high-profile boxing match against a stud like former WBC Welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker.

Applying it to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts 
In the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the storied discipline of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu  highlighted the rise of its practitioners to global recognition. During the UFC’s “Dark Ages” in the early 90s, a feeble-looking man by the name of Royce Gracie was effortlessly tapping all his opponents out with slick rear naked chokes and devastating armbars – cashing in on various tournaments in the process. Apparently, this was also the time when the whole world was exposed to the grace and dominance of BJJ. As a result, jiu jitsu aces have become a staple in mixed martial arts arenas and inside poker rooms as well; conquering every challenge that went their way. From participating in BJJ and MMA tournaments, famous grapplers like Georges St-Pierre, Mike Swick, and Randy Couture not only went on to become legitimate contenders in their respective divisions, they also effectively applied the skills they’ve learned on the mat to the felt tables.

These three MMA fighters went on to have storied careers in the organization, became somewhat synonymous to BJJ, and are proud aficionados of poker. Now, they currently benefit from the unyielding patience and proper discipline they got from training in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and transferred their respective success to a humble game like poker. With GSP and Mike Swick being decent players at the WSOP tables, and Randy Couture organizing an annual charity poker tournament for the war veterans, it seems that these three exemplify the bond of BJJ and Texas Hold’em in a whole different level.

In life, no matter which road an individual takes before reaching global stardom, the journey has always been the one that molds a future champion. For aspiring poker players and white belt BJJ practitioners, it all starts with a dream, an ambition that will change the course of their lives with a simple all-in or a smooth guard-pass. Because in the end, opportunity always comes knocking at the right time; they just have to be ready to answer the call.

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