I’m sitting in a leather bound chair at my brother’s cabin here in Michigan. The bags are packed and the kids and I are ready to go to the airport and head home after our summer vacation together. I sit staring at a globe that sits across the room wondering where the journey will take me next. I cashed four times at the world series but when you play 20+ events and not one of the cashes reach the final table the finally tally produces a negative result. It has been great to unwind from the stress that the WSOP can bring and spending time with my boys is just what I needed.
People ask me “how do you handle the swings?” “What do you do when you’re running bad?” Well, for one thing I just got in from the simple activity of playing catch with my son. Last night we were on the lake canoeing and appreciated a beautiful sunset. And even though my life right now is anything but coming up roses, I am stopping to smell them. Instead of succumbing to bitterness and blame, I am so grateful to be able to spend quality time with my family and friends.
And now that summer is coming to a close it is back to the grind. Or is it? The Bike tournaments in LA are going on right now but I feel no immediate need to jump back on the horse that has continually bucked me off this past year and a half. Watching ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP has revealed to me the adjustments I need to make in my game and I wonder if I’m ready to jump back in the fray. Players re-raising with seven-deuce – raising and moving in with King-Ten…and these are plays from the final table. Granted it was short handed but even with a full table there are plays being made that show the game of poker has opened up even more then it was a couple years ago. The pace then was fast and furious, now it just seems maniacal. Perhaps it is my age and I’m transitioning into one of the older conservative players I was bemused at only a decade ago. Or perhaps the state of the game is more chaotic reflecting the current state of the world.
So how does one approach this seeming madness and form a strategy to win with such deviation and randomization? Knowing that poker and life are cyclical, do I return to the concepts and principles that worked a decade ago? Now more then even there is a premium on making solid and wiser decisions. So applying patience, discipline and good solid poker skills while bullets are flying all around you is crucial. I know one thing about this game at this level. You have to be able to stair down the barrel of a gun in the face of adversity without blinking.
One of the immediate challenges one faces with age is eroding nerves. Funny, I sound like I’m 80 but that’s how I feel at times surrounded by the vibrant youth of today. To combat that I feel you have to be in good physical condition which I am not. So I started a work out program last week for the nth time. Actually it is just walking and running but for an old poker player who is over weight and out of shape it’s not a bad start. I am also working on myself spiritually. This way I’m not just working from the outside-in but also from the inside-out as they say in acting school, with the goal to make myself stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. Those are the basics that aren’t so basic when you pass 40.
So this article answers the sincere question of what I do when faced with adversity from a bad run of cards and the down cycle. It is back to basics. The real challenge in times like these is still to –
Enjoy the Journey,
“Not playing in Fear is tough, but necessary if you want to win”
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