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Daniel - Poker Journal

Rules are Key

06 Apr 2008


I have pretty simple rules when it comes to preparing for a tournament and despite knowing how important to me these rules are, I've had several setbacks in terms of following this year.

Frankly, my whole life is in a major transition- the divorce, playing in Europe, being part of the Poker Stars team, finishing the book, launching PokerVT, doing commentary for the APPT, etc. I feel great about the way I'm handling it all considering it's a pretty full plate of things to deal with, but one thing is clear, all of these distractions are real and that's why it's so important to stick to my "rules."

I can't exactly stick to the rules exactly as I would like as I have more responsibilities now, but I should definitely be able to more consistently be prepared when I play in big events.

My rules are simple:

-No drinking alcohol the day before player (or even the day before that)
-No socializing with people
-Eating alone in my room the night before the tournament
-8 full hours of uninterrupted sleep, waking up two hours before the tournament starts
-finish all projects that need to get done during the week
-read through the format, "think" about poker the night before- get my head into WANTING it badly

It's a pretty good list of stuff and in San Remo, I didn't do too badly. When I'm able to follow everyone of those rules, though, I know in my heart and in my mind that I simply perform better. So, let's take a look at what has caused me problems in terms of following these rules:

Rule #1: No drinking alcohol the night before a tournament. The reason this has come up is that I've been playing on the EPT a lot this year and it's, well, a lot of fun! PokerStars usually has a smashing welcome party for all the players and it's scheduled either the day before I play, or the day before that. Being at a party, I'll usually have a beer, a glass of wine, or maybe a glass of champagne. That often leads to another... and another... and another! It's all well and good at the time, but I pay for it the next day in terms of mental strength.

Rule #2: No socializing with people. Much like rule #1, being on the EPT, thoroughly enjoying the people who frequent the tournaments, coupled with the Poker Stars welcome parties, makes it more difficult for me to be a hermit, go up to my room and be alone.

Rule #3: Eating alone in my room the night before a tournament. I've addressed this issue more often than not by bringing my own food or having a room service menu that suits my needs, but not every city I travel to is "Vegan friendly."

Rule #4: 8 full hours of uninterrupted sleep, waking up two hours before the tournament starts. Without question this is my new obsession and the most important aspect of me being at my best. Traveling overseas with the time change can be a challenge, as can be a room with bad A/C or even beds that are uncomfortable. I don't take sleeping pills, so the only real solution to this problem is coming much earlier, but I often don't have the free time to do that.

Rule #5: Finish all projects that need to get done during the week. The problem here is that I often have too many projects on my plate, many of which are big projects that take time and energy that I don't often have. I do my best to get things done before playing a tournament so I can have a clear mind.

Rule #6: Read through the format, "think" about poker the night before- get my head into WANTING it badly. This is mostly a question of motivation, but when all other things in my life are in order and I have a fresh mind to think about poker, I just play at a much, much higher level.

As I said, I didn't do badly in San Remo. I did drink at the PokerStars welcome party two nights before play and stayed till the bitter end. I didn't do "too much" socializing the night before and I got an "ok" sleep. I didn't have all my work done, but I certainly wanted it badly. I fought really hard in San Remo and I think that bodes well for the two huge events coming later this month: EPT Finals at Monte Carlo and the WPT Championship at Bellagio. I feel great going into both events and think I'm going to do very well.

In many ways, my first season on the EPT mirrors my first ever WPT season. I had zero cashes on the WPT in it's first year, but then put things together in years two and three. I've had zero cashes on the EPT in season one, but expect to have a much better season two next year as I think I'll be better prepared for the pitfalls, the newness will wear off a little bit, and I'll have a chance to focus on what's most important: taking every event seriously and playing my best in every situation.

****************************************************************

We are off to London today to do the commentary for the EPT Copenhagen event. We need to take a car to the airport in Nice and then it's just a two hour flight to Heathrow. I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm gambling again...on British Airways!!! BA and Heathrow are like a deadly combination in terms of losing luggage and I swore I'd never fly with them again after they continually lose my luggage. I'm thinking I've got about a 45% chance of having my bags with me in London, otherwise I'll be buying a whole new wardrobe. Wish me luck.

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