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Daniel - Poker Journal

Fun vs Success?

20 Feb 2008


I haven't won anything on the EPT, but I've had experiences that it's hard to put a price tag on. I guess that's the real question I ask myself now: is money, success, and being my best more important than enjoying being in the moment and focusing on fun?

It's a difficult question to answer. In Germany I was doing great after day one and then hung out at the bar till 9:00am the next day. That's breaking all of my rules. I showed up late for day two and didn't make it through the day.

In Copenhagen, I really goofed up by changing my starting day from day 1B to day 1A. When I made that decision I forgot about the Scandinavian awards (you can watch the awards at www.siktilt.com) that I was hosting the night before.

I have to say, I had an absolute blast hosting the show. I can honestly say that I get a major adrenaline rush from being on stage that I don't get anywhere else. More pressure than anything else I could imagine doing- and I love the pressure. When it comes to rehearsals, I'm probably the worst ever, but when it's for real, and if I screw up with everyone watching... that's when I feel the most comfortable. That's when I feel a sense of accomplishment when it's over and it went well. I don't know exactly what makes me so addicted to that feeling, but I had it on the boat when I did that comedy skit, and since then, it's like an elusive drug that I can't get enough of.

After the show, once again I broke everyone of my pre-tournament rules. Hanging out with people, drinking, and staying up late. Not as late as in Germany, but late enough. I woke up in time for the tournament, but was still a bit foggy.

I was still able to play well for the first 7 levels of the night. I took about 4-5 bad beats, all coming on the turn or the river for extra "oompf" and then made just an absolutely terrible play:

UTG makes it 1100 to go, button thinks and calls, I call from BB with Ks Qs. I knew the button wasn't that strong because I watched him and knew that if he had anything good he would re-raise pre-flop. Knowing this, and having both of my opponents covered by about double, I should have just taken that dead money and added it to my stack with a big raise pre-flop. Calling is not bad, but if I were rested and focused I would have recognized a good opportunity for a squeeze play.

The flop came K-J-5 with one spade. I checked, the UTG raiser bet 2500 and the button went all in for 13,000. I was doing well with 22,000 and decided that the button could never have a set, AK, or AA. Only hand that beats me is KJ, but that's exactly what it looked like he had. If not that hand, he had me tied with KQ. It's an automatic fold, but I donked it off and called. The UTG insta called and showed 55. The button, of course, KJ. Me? The idiot with a freaking pair!!!

This hand happened for the following reasons:

-I was hungover
-I wasn't well rested
-I'd taken several bad beats already and let it get to me because my focus wasn't there.

My last hand I had a 12-outer against Noah with two to come and missed, getting knocked out with about 30 minutes left to go in the night.

I was definitely unlucky in the tournament, but ultimately, that's not at all why I went broke. I fold that one hand, or push in pre-flop, and I'm still in the tournament with about 20,000 or so which was above average at the time.

I've had a really strange year in that regard. Moments of great play overshadowed by a sloppy play here and a bad call there. Thing is, I'm not discouraged in the least! You'd think I should be, but I'm really not. Why? Well, because I know it's a pretty easy fix. It's in my control and my skill level today is better than it's ever been. It's a simple case of poor preparation before tournaments.

In 2004 do you know how many tournaments I cashed in where I broke one of my rules? Zero. Reason for that is simple: I never broke my rules and only recently started breaking them again.

So why did I start breaking my rules then? Well, the answer is simpler than you'd think: I WAS HAVING FUN!!! I enjoyed the company, I enjoyed being in Europe, etc. In some ways playing on the EPT feels like starting all over again like I did in my early 20's. Meeting new people, socializing, etc. It's something I stopped doing over the years, well, because it's one of my "rules."

There is one big difference between me now and then. Back then I would beat myself up really badly about making mistakes and then go into a mode of self-destruction. I'm a little oder and wiser now, though, and I just chalk it up to an, "Oops, oh well." I make mistakes sometimes and it's a good way of remembering that I'm human.

When I was young this was something that stunted my growth as a player. The beating myself up and being self-destructive was a common practice for me (circa 2004). Today, none of this worries me, and that doesn't mean I'm not hungry, or that I don't care or don't want to win. It simply means that I chose fun as a priority over success during that time. It's not the last time it's going to happen I'm sure, and when it does, I'm not going to cry about it.

My mindset about that sort of thing is so much better now. Seriously, on the eve of me heading to LA none of this worries me or makes me feel any less confident about my chances. I still feel like I'm playing excellent poker and that I'll do well.

jet lag, bad sleep schedules, faster structures, etc. are also reasons for my demise in both Germany and Copenhagen, but the root of the problem.

There is a big stretch of tournaments on the horizon and I have a good feeling about several of them. The NBC Heads Up is something I always look forward to, and I have a good feeling about Monte Carlo too.

I think I've had enough "fun" now and am ready to get back to work and be more serious about my job. I'm ready get back to the grindstone and start obeying my own rules. I feel good, really good. No regrets and no worries whatsoever.

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