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Daniel - Poker Journal

A Definitive Moment

07 Mar 2008


I've learned so much about myself this week, alone in Sydney. They say that when you spend time alone it allows you to reflect on life, who you are, who you thought you were, who people think you are, and who you want to be.

Today was another "workday" just like yesterday. While there I'm mostly isolated from whats going on around me, essentially as alone as I would be if I were in my hotel room. When I am around others I don't quite feel like myself. The only time I;ve felt like myself was the night I spent with some of the people from the forum at FullContactPoker. It was the only time I felt comfortable being myself.

This whole experience has been humbling and has taught me more about patience, actually, more about how impatient I really am in my daily life. It's made me think about how hard life can be for "normal" people with everyday jobs that go home at night with no one there. The only people they talk to are those people in chat rooms or on forums on the internet. This experience has helped me understand better how important family, and true friendships really are. They are precious and something to cherish, but often you don't realize that sort of thing until it's all taken away from you.

I feel completely out of my element for the most part- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Growth comes from putting yourself in situations that aren't always comfortable. Having said that, I don't like that "other me." Quiet, shy, and awkward. It's not at all who I am, but at times when I'm a bit uncomfortable I tend to shy away from being myself. My real self is pretty loud. Confident in all kinds of scenarios, never awkward, and certainly never quiet. This other self comes out when I'm a bit intimidated by my surroundings. A defense mechanism to help make sure I don't say, or do anything stupid. To simply conform to what others are doing or saying, letting others lead and following along quietly. Essentially, the exact opposite of who I really am.

I've spent a lot of time thinking and reading this week. I'm almost finished the Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, and even that book, of his story, makes me reflect on my life in ways I've never seen things before.

Tonight, after a day of mostly waiting patiently alone, I was dropped off at my hotel. As I've done everyday, I decided to take the 20 minute walk down George St. to my favorite little restaurant. Only this time, it was night and the rain was coming down in buckets.

I threw on a hoodie, then started down the steep slope from my hotel to George St. The street seemed different than before. A few drunks, some groups partying, the clubs and bars a bit more lively. The one thing that remained the same was that I felt like I was watching everything happen around me and felt almost invisible. The hoodie only added to the feeling of being on the outside looking in, closed off from what happened around me.

While I walked, I was thinking to myself... thinking about writing a blog entry. Why, I'm not entirely sure. I don't know if I find it therapeutic or if I feel as though it's an opportunity to talk to someone.

As somber as the tone of the blog may appear, I actually like where I'm at and want to stay. I like the idea of starting from scratch, being alone, and trying to take on something new- from the bottom up. It feels like an exceptionally tough road but I'm starting to realize that if it isn't tough, then it's just not as fulfilling.

When I was 22 years old I remember walking back from the Mirage to the Budget Suites after just going bust in a 20-40 game after a very tough week at the tables. I walked, and spent time thinking about the things I wanted and if it was even possible? I thought about how hard I'd have to work and how much I had to learn. I thought about what I would do if poker didn't work out for me? Did I have any other options, or would I end up like the wino I just passed and gave my last dollar to?

When I finally "made it" in the poker world, when I look back at how it all happened, that walk was that defining moment of my poker journey. Completely alone in a strange city, a bit unsure of myself. Stripped of the monster ego I'd developed beating up on weaker opponents in Toronto, and exposed for what I was at the time- a pretty good poker player, but just nowhere near as good as I thought I was. A sense of realization for the first time really, that I was tackling an obscure profession with an extremely low success rate, especially back then (before the internet age). It was the closest I'd ever come to giving up the game completely. To packing it in and trying to reassemble a life that took some turns that seemed ill advised.

Then I woke up the next morning... hungry for knowledge. Hungry to get back to work and learn, and even relearn the game. The idea of quitting never crossed my mind again- not for a second. Not because it was an easy climb from there, it certainly wasn't. Simply because I found a strength inside me that, until that day, I didn't know existed.

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