134 – Melissa Burr – Mental Health in Poker

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Despite making poker history by becoming the first woman to final table the Poker Players Championship in 2014, Melissa struggled with the pressure and expectations from the sudden notoriety. 

After hitting rock bottom in her personal life last year, Melissa decided to follow her happiness and is now sharing her story with the world. With a mission to normalize mental health struggles in poker, she recently joined up with director Mario Cerrito to create a documentary series.

In this episode of the Mindset Advantage Podcast, Melissa reflects candidly on her struggles with anxiety throughout her years as a professional poker player.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

[00:00:38] Welcome to this week’s episode with Melissa Burr

  • [00:01:33] Leaving the corporate world to play full-time poker
  • [00:03:01] Believing in her skill, Melissa took the plunge and created her poker freedom
  • [00:04:58] Suddenly in the spotlight after deep runs in the 2014 WSOP…
  • [00:06:48] Taking it one day at a time: juggling pressure and disappointment

[00:10:04] Melissa is making a documentary series on mental health in poker

  • [00:12:46] Getting poker players to open up about their emotional struggles

[00:15:25] Melissa refocused her life around her happiness—and found it!

  • [00:16:51] From rock bottom to choosing healthier living—Melissa shares her story
  • [00:19:02] Making the best of bad situations and turning weaknesses into strengths

[00:21:05] Thinking about moving into poker full time? Here’s Melissa’s advice…

  • [00:23:01] What are you willing to sacrifice for your love of the game?
  • [00:24:06] Normalizing the mental health struggles of poker players
  • [00:26:42] Reaching out from a dark place for help from a professional

[00:28:34] What’s next for Melissa Burr?

[00:30:59] Wrap-up—thanks for checking out this episode!

3 Key Points

  1. Many players struggle with depression and anxiety—you are not alone! Mental health can be difficult to balance in poker, and isolation can be overwhelming. If you are dealing with these kinds of issues, reach out to a professional for help! Managing mental health is easier with the aid of a therapist, and you don’t have to suffer alone in silence.
  2. Every poker player has mental game weaknesses, but if you can face those issues, understand them, and work through them, they can become your greatest strengths.
  3. If you’re thinking about becoming a full-time poker player, you must consider how much you are willing to sacrifice in the beginning for your love of the game. Having a safety net can go a long way to easing your efforts, and you can always fall back on your alternate plan if playing professionally doesn’t work out for you.


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About the Author Elliot Roe

Hi, I'm Elliot Roe... And I Help Poker Players Squeeze Every Ounce Of EV From Their Poker Skills and Abilities. Over 7500 poker players have downloaded my Mindset MP3s to boost their focus on the table and to relax and recover post-session. I have personally worked with hundreds more on mastering their emotions and the tabling and developing the “Pro-Athlete Mindset” needed to be successful into today’s games. Creating a strong poker mindset has been the “secret weapon” of the high stakes elite for years now, and I started this site to bring that edge to any player willing to work on that area of their game.

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