Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Poker and LIfe Post Black Friday

This entry is being written from an apartment in Budapest, Hungary as I'm currently vacationing here with my boy Matt while I'm about halfway through a seven week European poker trip. This is a really incredible city with so much history, and it's such a great opportunity to visit it. Our time here comes after 12 days in Cannes, France for the World Series of Poker Europe and seven days in San Remo, Italy for a European Poker Tour series. This weekend we'll head to Amsterdam for a week long series followed by a two day vacation in Athens, Greece. Then, Ill head an hour west to a town called Loutraki for another EPT series for a week to conclude the trip before heading back to Birmingham for Thanksgiving. Needless to say, this has been an experience of a lifetime. I've really taken the time to see some sites and haven't taken a moment of the trip for granted. If I could offer one piece of advice from all the travels that I've been so fortunate to experience during my time in this business, it would be to see the southeastern coast of France as it meets Italy. The views of the houses on the hills on the Mediterranean Sea were images that will never escape me as long as I live.
Before, I headed overseas I had a  sort of ten week lull where I spent a lot of time in Alabama making a lot of changes in my life. For those of you who don't know, the three major online poker sites were seized in April of this year, and online poker was essentially banned for now in The United States. The reality of this didn't hit me until after The World Series of Poker which took place this summer, as I was extremely busy trying to grind out a living in Las Vegas over the course of six or seven weeks during that time. I had a lot of growing up to do quickly as my style was cramped with a major source of income being taken from me. It turns out that for the last six years I have been making a very good living for myself playing poker on the live tournament circuit in addition, so I was not entirely dependent on online poker. 
I should make clear that I am in no way bemoaning my luck or complaining. I am incredibly grateful for everyday that I get to spend playing poker for a living as it's something I love and is a career that has afforded me opportunities that I would have never had otherwise.  The reality is that myself and thousands of other poker players were just a coin flip or two away from being in or out of this business many times at the start of our respective careers. No one deserves anything in this business of playing cards for a living. There's no room for complaining when you consider possible alternatives, and it's something regrettably I've been guilty of many times in my career. I've grown out of it and am completely over hearing it from other poker players, many of whom are top names who have been more fortunate than anyone to be where they are. 
During my downtime, I had some decisions to make as far as what the future holds for me. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to just sit around and complain about the state of the business and the economy, and everyday that you're not making moves you're falling behind. Many poker players made the completely understandable decision of relocating to Vancouver or Mexico or Europe in order to play online. For a couple reasons, I couldn't make a rash decision and uproot from my condo in Birmingham, Alabama. I decided the first thing to do was to get in great shape physically. The online poker seizures were kind of a blessing in disguise as I was able to, at long last, have some time for myself at my home to entirely dedicate myself to fitness and diet. I quickly shed fifteen pounds and as I type this am nearing the best shape of my life. During this period of my life, I've become extremely goal and business-oriented and couldn't be happier. I've grown closer than ever with my family that I love so dearly and have become extremely active in a side business project that will supplement income. I traveled to Los Angeles and Las Vegas (twice) for a few other poker tournaments and spent a few days in Atlanta watching my Braves collapse at the end of the regular season. Additionally, I took an amazing 1700 mile round trip RV trip up to Happy Valley with my boys from Birmingham for the Alabama vs Penn State football game over the last couple months as well.
As I'm getting older it seems like things are becoming a little more clear despite the ever-changing, volatile, career and life that I've chosen. I need to be working and it turns out that traveling around the world playing poker tournaments is my best skill set for the time being. Not having much time at home to relax and get things done is tough sometimes, but it's something with which I'm at peace, and I don't exactly think I'll regret spending my twenties experiencing many of the things that I've experienced. Also, there are no women in my life right now, so it's a really great opportunity to do me. In Alabama to be 26 and to not be trying hard to settle down is a foreign concept to a lot of people, but it is not a priority for me right now. It will happen when it happens. 
Thanks for reading,