Ask anyone who plays and they will tell you poker isn’t for the faint of heart or the unfocused. It’s one of the most mentally-difficult, strategic games there is. Most people play purely for fun or perhaps even for a small payout and don’t have their sights set on becoming one of the most prolific players of all time. While Bryn Kenney didn’t set out to become that either, he certainly achieved it as he amassed more than $55 million in poker earnings while also holding the record for the largest single payout in a live tournament at the Triton Million event.
But there’s so much more to his story. In fact, the Long Beach, N.Y., native’s journey to fame and fortune began in his teen years as he developed the skills and characteristics to not only thrive in poker — but also walk a unique path in life. As Bryn tells the story, his poker prowess has as much to do with his family’s work ethic and skills they instilled in him at a young age as it has to do with the gaming smarts, positive outlook, and mental resilience he developed along the way.
From his early roots mastering the card game Magic: The Gathering to developing his entrepreneurial chops by running poker tournaments in his later teen years, Bryn’s story is unlike any other we’ve told on Brand Story. It’s about the power of mental toughness and intuition, finding true balance in the storms (and the pandemic), and having his family as the driving force behind his pursuit of excellence.
Whether your competition is on the poker table, in the boardroom — or in the game of life — Bryn’s approach to handling stress under pressure includes showing up as his unique self despite the obstacles that come his way. His distinctive approach has the power to teach us a thing or two about being calm under pressure and facing life with a contagious brand of positivity that ultimately touches everything around us.
Steve: Do you have any advice for people who might be negotiating a deal, trying to get a higher salary, or trying to perform under pressure?
Bryn: Breathe through it and just realize that this stress and pressure you feel isn’t real. It might just be a projection of your thoughts and your mind. I believe stress doesn’t exist. It’s just what we create… I feel like every problem has a solution. And if you can come with a clear and open mind, and just allow yourself to flow, you’ll run into that solution and have some more creative thoughts — as opposed to feeling like you have to do it a certain way, or you have to be a certain person.
Steve: What is something you think is true that people disagree with you about?
Bryn: I think that the world can be an unbelievably happy and harmonious type of existence in this lifetime. And I think that could be bleak when you look at things right now, but I think that’s just the power of the mind and if we believe in something. So for me, this whole growth improvement is connected to that too – wanting to be a part of creating a happier world and existence for everybody.
Steve: What piece of advice has someone given you that really stuck?
Bryn: The things that I learned the most without being words are from my parents. I learned from my dad just how he would give all of his energy to go and see patients all day. And he would always be upbeat. I learned about selflessness and that doing something for a greater purpose and a greater reason can always change and evolve to something bigger as you evolve yourself.
Steve: What do you think has changed the most about your career and what you’re doing over the past couple of years?
Bryn: A few years ago, I had to play poker just to survive essentially and to help the people that I care about. And in the past few years… I’ve been able to step back a little bit, evaluate everything that’s important to me, and really continuously grow myself, to try to become the best person that I can be… I feel like I’ve opened my mind to different areas, and that’s helping me not just deal with the everyday things in my life, but just be a better person.
Professional Poker Player
Bryn went from Magic: The Gathering as a kid, to running poker tournaments in his later teen years, to becoming a high-stakes professional poker player as an adult – all by finding out how to change his mindset to achieve his goals.
As the President of Gravity Group, Steve is passionate about helping brands reach their goals through honest, creative marketing and powerful brand stories.
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