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Daniel - Poker Journal

My Dog Lucky

27 Oct 2004

I think I must have been 19 years old when my dog died. He was an old dog and pretty sick so it didn't really come as a shock, but still that was a significant loss considering the fact that I'd been close with Lucky for almost 13 years.
I remember when I got the news like it was yesterday. I was in the shower and my father came in screaming, "Lucky's dead! He's dead!" My dad was totally broken down. He looked as though he didn't want to go on.
My brother's reaction was eerily similar. He actually punched holes through his bedroon wall. My brother is a big guy and can do a lot of damage when he loses it.
So I see my brother broken down, my father a crying mess... so why then did I not cry? I loved my dog just as much as they did, but for some reason I was unable to access my emotions? Well here's why:

By that time I'd already been playing poker on a daily basis and I was getting better and better. My knowledge base was steadily growing, my reading ability was improving, and MOST importantly my emotional control was becoming more stable.

So as I was getting better and better at hiding my emotions I think that ability spilled over to my personal life and had a negative effect on me. It basically numbed my heart, and that's not something I wanted as a by-product of being a good poker player.

Being conscious of it helped obviously. I realized I guess, that I didn't need to be that much of a "hard ass" to become a great poker player and in time I was back to normal for the most part.

Looking back at that time is really bizarre. I don't know if any of you have gone through or are going through anything like that right now, but if you are you need to recognize it now.

In my columns I always re-iterate the fact that emotional stability is important at the poker table. I want to make it clear to you all though, that it's "ok" to cry when your dog dies. And it's "ok" to feel great about meeting a new girl. Keep your cool at the tables, but for heaven's sakes don't numb your heart.

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