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Poker Vlogger Andrew Neeme Talks Preparation And The Mental Game

New WPT Ambassador And Cardroom Owner Explains His Poker Routine

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jul 13, 2022


Andrew Neeme Credit: WPTIf you like watching poker vloggers on YouTube, you have Andrew Neeme to thank. The OG poker YouTuber has had his channel for the last five years, and is one of the most watched grinders online with more than 175,000 subscribers and over 37 million total views.

The Michigan native graduated from Michigan State University and originally worked in the music industry, but found that poker was more lucrative. Neeme then moved to Los Angeles, and eventually Las Vegas to play cash games for a living.

With his army of followers, Neeme popularized the meet-up game (MUG), which brings fans together at cardrooms all over the country. One property that he can often be found at is The Lodge Card Club near Austin, Texas. In January, Neeme was named alongside fellow poker YouTubers Brad Owen and Doug Polk as part-owners of the room.

In May, Neeme was added to the growing team of ambassadors for the World Poker Tour. He will be following the tour, attending events, and working with online partners to create exclusive content for the WPT.

“A partnership with Andrew is a natural fit for WPT,” CEO Adam Pliska said. “He is a trailblazer in the poker industry whose influence on the game can be felt anywhere the game of poker is played.”

Card Player caught up with Neeme to get his approach to the game, as well as how he prepares for each session.

Craig Tapscott: How do you prepare for each poker session? Do you spend time studying each day? What’s a typical day in the life of a pro player/vlogger?

Andrew Neeme: There are a few boxes that I like to have checked before starting a poker session. Together they make up a daily routine that didn’t exist for me until quite recently.

A strict routine can be something that’s difficult to stick to as a professional cash game player, mainly because your working hours are often thrown off by the quality of a game. It’s a give-and-take. Having a routine is great for keeping good habits and making sure the boxes are checked, but the EV of staying late in a game can often outweigh the benefits of keeping the routine.

Assuming I’m on a good routine, I’ll have gotten a good eight hours of sleep the previous night. I’ve typically been pretty lucky to be able to get a lot of sleep, which is so important. In the morning, before eating breakfast, I’ll hit the gym for about 45 minutes. I tend to get bored if I stay there for too long (somehow my older brother can go for two-plus hours and I’ll never be in as good of shape as him) but even 30 minutes is good to get some endorphins into the system.

After that it’s a coffee, protein shake, shower, and breakfast. And the next box to check is any work that needs doing, whether that’s the boring admin stuff, or a voiceover for a YouTube vlog, or a call with the Lodge guys. There’s always something that needs tackling and attention in life. But it feels good to have already checked multiple boxes at this point in the day that include health as well as professional tasks.

Next up on the day’s ideal routine checklist is about an hour of poker study. I’ve been digging deep into pot-limit Omaha training videos lately, and it’ll likely take me another two years before I have a complete, comprehensive grasp of PLO cash game strategy. But you aren’t going to get those two years done in a day.

By chiseling away at it, one hour at a time, you do two things: You make that enormous amount of study material manageable, and you also put yourself into a strategy-minded state when going to play poker that day. For me, as a content creator, I try to walk the line between presenting poker as a profitable endeavor and a form of entertainment. It’s easy for me to slip too far into fun territory, but listening to a coach get deep in the weeds pulls me back to the other side.

Craig Tapscott: So now you’re ready to start your session. Do you do anything special regarding maintaining your energy and focus for the day?

Andrew Neeme: Well, I really need to make sure I’m not on an empty stomach when I play. I think I’m much more susceptible to tilt when I’m hungry. I might have another meal, or I might get one when I get to the casino. But at this point, I’m feeling good, accomplished, and ready to battle.

That last part is important to really consider. You can probably think of plenty of instances where poker was the first thing you did in a day. Perhaps there’s a benefit to being completely fresh in the day and haven’t spent any energy yet. But for me, feeling like I’ve already gotten some things done on multiple fronts makes me feel good heading into a session. Maybe I don’t need to push things as hard. Maybe I can just let the game and the spots come to me, and I can operate more peacefully.

Everything I just described is “a new me.” When I first moved to Vegas, I didn’t do any of the above. I wasn’t living a healthy lifestyle, not going to the gym, not keeping regular hours whatsoever, not doing anything other than waking up and going to the casino. I was winning, but not enough. I was unprofessional, despite putting in a reasonable number of hours at the poker table. If you’re a reader of this content, you’ve likely heard the cliches before, but what I do away from the table is at minimum equally important as how I conduct myself at the table.

Craig Tapscott: How do you take care of your mental health? Whether it be variance, long hours and simply the day-to-day grind of a poker life. Have you ever had to take a long break from the game?

Andrew Neeme: Doing these things I’ve described isn’t a guaranteed protection from short-term variance. Nobody is immune from that if you’re going to play this game, despite how professional of an approach you can take to prepare yourself.

When negative variance does arrive, it’s never easy. There are a few things I like to do to help me deal with it mentally. The first is to make sure I’m playing well and not exacerbating the issue with poor lines. The best way to do that is to run hands by fellow professional players.

If I’m playing NLHE, I can do that in the Hand History Lounge. It’s a friendly group coaching setting that myself and Benton Blakeman started for people who don’t have other pros in their social circle. If I’m playing PLO, then my buddy Dylan Weisman is my go-to source. He’s a multitalented coach on all fronts—poker, business, and life.

It’s important to remind myself that variance is going to feel like shit for at least a little while. Maybe it’s one to two full days, maybe more. In one of my earliest vlogs, I sat down with the audience in order to deliver a very important message. You shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad about poker. You’re not a robot. You’re a human who’s trying super hard at a very competitive endeavor, and you’re hoping for the best. 

Your brain isn’t wired to deal with variance. If a lion was camped out behind a bush, your ancestors wouldn’t go near that bush again, and your brain inherited that strategy. You somehow have to tell your brain that it’s okay to get all in with pocket kings again despite running into the action player’s aces last time. It’s a lot to deal with, and if you need a break to sort it all out, then take a break.

Being mentally prepared for positive variance might seem like as good of a problem as could be, and perhaps it is, but it’s still something that takes work. When you’ve had a big tourney score or some very easy sessions in a row, it’s easy to feel invincible heading into any particular session.

This is a battle for me especially as I’m moving around in stakes. Maybe I’ve had a good $5-$10-$20 session on stream, and then the next thing on the agenda is a $2-$5 meet up game. It’s very easy for me to not take that session seriously. It’s okay, I want to be a good host and not just nit it up. But there’s probably an above-average chance I’m going to have a losing session there, assuming my 6-8 suited will find its way home when in fact I’m just torching money in a bunch of spots like that.

The longest break that I’ve taken was during 2020, when lockdowns were at their peak. Brad Owen and I had been going super hard on the meet up game trail, building, and solidifying not only the concept but our original MUGs brand. We’d been all over the country, and at the start of the year had a massive four-day event in London. We came back to the US and did a two-day event in Los Angeles, and I remember some table talk about a COVID case arriving in Las Vegas.

Shortly after that, the unthinkable happened and the entire Las Vegas Strip closed. Live poker was on indefinite hiatus. It was shocking, but in some ways to me personally, it was a very much-needed break. It was probably peak burnout, despite the success that we had found with all the travel and work that we put in. I’ve never been good at taking holidays, and thankfully my wife Busi is much better at planning escapes for us to enjoy. But that break left me without much choice but to be in the present.

That said, while it was a good lesson, giving myself some down time is something that I still must try and remind myself to do, and will likely be an ongoing exercise for the next few years. I have multiple brands and businesses now, a partnership with the WPT, a YouTube channel, and poker study to accomplish, and to be honest, even doing this article with you makes me want to book a holiday to Mexico. I suppose I could still watch training videos while I’m there.

Find Andrew traveling the World Poker Tour, at the Lodge Card Club, or online at and his YouTube channel ‘Andrew Neeme.’ Follow him on Twitter