The world’s most talented professional poker players also experience moments of self-doubt. High-stakes professional poker player Pratyush Buddiga, who has earned close to $4 million playing live poker tournaments, recently admitted in a blog post that he was almost crippled by a sense of failure.

Buddiga, a 26-year-old resident of Colorado, said that he felt extremely anxious in 2002 when, at the age of 13, he emerged as the champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and then appeared in programs such as American Morning with Paula Zahn, The Today Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. His achievements even gave him the opportunity to meet and interact with President George W. Bush.

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He said that his achievements demanded that he maintain the “image of the genius that everyone admired” or risk having his world crashing around his ears. He said that his classmates would laugh if he could not answer a question, celebrate if they got better scores in class tests, and so on. He said: “My entire life and thoughts were (and are, to this day) centered around avoiding the embarrassment of looking stupid.”

He continued to be a perfectionist even as a poker player. However, he soon realized that the world of poker does not guarantee success and could push a player into a long downswing.

In 2013, he won $772,870 when he finished eighth in the GuangDong Asia Millions, an event with a buy-in of $128,000. In 2014, he participated in a high roller tournament with a buy-in of $25,000 at Aria and took home $543,683. He also won $219,343 in a $2,500 buy-in prelim tournament at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Fallsview Poker Classic and $844,660 when he finished third in the $64,000 buy-in APPT high roller tournament. Although his performance of last year was good as he had won over $680,000, this figure is quite small compared to the larger six-figure prizes other players had won.

He confessed in his blog entry: “My entire self-worth was tired to the results of these tourneys. I was embarrassed and hated myself every time I busted a tournament. When I losses began to pile up, I truly loathed Pratyush Buddiga, the person I saw as a charlatan poker player, who was never as good as people once thought.”

At the end of his blog post, however, he resolved that he would take every failure “as an opportunity to practice compassion and mindfulness towards myself.”

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