Here we see how poker player Michele Nerbi applies poker strategies to his pro sim racing mindset of keeping calm and making his moves wisely.
Poker player and pro sim racing driver Michele Nerbi has great technique and strategies on the race track, here we see how the mindset of poker has played a major role in his discipline and racing mentality.
Recent years have left no doubt that sim racing is growing. According to a 2021 report at EsportsInsider.com, viewership numbers “exploded” during the early days of pandemic lockdowns. The iRacing platform gained some 50,000 followers in a few months’ time early in 2020, the F1 Esports Series 2020 had a 98% increase in viewership as compared to the previous year, even companies that manufacture and sell sim racing equipment have seen significant bumps in sales.
Sim racing may still be somewhat niche in comparison to what we might call major eSports. But this growth is meaningful, and as the category grows, we’re also beginning to see more competitors establish themselves as known names. Among these figures is Michele Nerbi, a driver we highlighted as a top qualifier for the Alpine Esports Series just this past April. Nerbi has proven to be a fast riser in sim racing, he may also be one who proves to have promotional appeal across competitions and categories. This is because Nerbi, not unlike many recognizable athletes from pro soccer to Formula 1 appears to have drawn on experience in the world of poker to advance and thrive in eSports.
According to a Nerbi profile at Agroged.com, the sim racer “started his career as a professional poker player” before realizing that he wanted to turn to video games and motorsport. He is not the first mainstream gamer to have blurred these lines (popular Fortnite streamer Ninja recently dipped his toes into pro poker as well). And he doesn’t appear to have left a significant impression on the pro poker world. Nevertheless, when we look at some of the comments Nerbi made about his success in racing in the same profile just mentioned, it’s hard not to see the impact of his background in poker. Nerbi emphasized the following aspects of his sim racing progression in particular
Studying & Taking Advice
Nerbi discusses getting in touch with the first team for education and advice as he was trying to advance and take on new challenges. This echoes a process followed by many poker players as they seek to improve. Many will spend countless hours watching the best players in the world studying their play in live tournaments, watching YouTube clips and Masterclass tutorials from the likes of Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, and so on. This kind of education may not occur within a team structure in poker, but it’s clear that Nerbi has drawn on the idea of learning from more experienced peers to improve his own ability.
Putting In The Hours
Nerbi has also talked about what is essentially the process of turning a hobby into a job through more and more commitment putting in up to four hours daily, then adding additional hours to work on specific disciplines, and so on. This too is crucial to the journey of a pro poker player. As a guide to becoming a pro at Poker.org puts it, players should be prepared to work “weird” hours dropping the “9-to-5” work routine, playing random hours, and sometimes playing deep into the night (depending on what games are going on). For a lot of poker players, the transition from treating the game as a side hobby toward taking this more committed approach is the difference between being an amateur and being a pro. Nerbi likely experienced this shift as a pro poker player, and appears to have gone through it again in sim racing.
Finally, Nerbi also discussed his preferred approach of working on intermittent goals and determining how much he can “raise the bar” each competition. This is very likely another mentality he picked up from poker, wherein up-and-coming players are constantly reminded that they simply aren’t going to win all the time. In the last year alone there have been multiple stories of poker legend Phil Hellmuth taking huge losses only to bounce back with bigger wins such as when he started a duel with Fox Sports broadcaster Nick Wright by losing several hands only to turn the match around and pocket $50,000 in winnings. Poker players accept that these ups and downs are going to happen, and learn to focus on individual goals and gradual progress rather than big-picture, immediate success, an approach that now appears to be benefiting Nerbi in sim racing.
We’d love to hear Nerbi discuss the connection more directly himself. As we witness his ascension in sim racing, though it appears as if he’s yet another athlete whose experience in poker has made him all the more effective as a competitor.