Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Word as Therapy

I'm in the mood to post a nice and long rambling message about my life.I feel like I am in a unique position in life, one with endlessopportunity filled with tough decisions to make. The line between rightand wrong is so hazy in these decisions, there might not even be a right and wrong.

I'm sure looking back ten years from now I will wonder what would have been if I did X instead of Y, but unless I really screw up, I don't think I will have many regrets. I've always been pretty good about making good decisions, which is why poker has been such a big draw for me.

I'm starting to realize that although making good decisions is basically what poker comes down to, there are a few other areas where I feel I am at a disadvantage when it comes to being an ideal poker player.

Memory, attention span, and lack of a killer-instinct are my biggest faults as a poker player.

I finished the book about Stu Ungar a month or so ago, and he was quite possibly the best poker player, and self-proclaimed best gin-rummy player in the world. Suffice to say, I feel like my decision making skills are probably better than Stuey's ever were. He didn't win because of his decision-making skills. In fact, he lost everything because of his poor decision-making skills.

His memory was amazing though, something I will never have. Somewhere in the book I read a paragraph about how a dealer quickly flipped over one card at a time and stopped at the last two. Without missing a beat, Stu was correctly able to say the number and suit of the two remaining cards. Not only was he able to do that with cards, but he could also do it with people. Pick up a tell and use it to totally demolish his opponent.

Under most circumstances I don't want to totally demolish my opponents. In a way, this can be good. I strive for a fun game that people will enjoy coming back to and (hopefully) giving me their money. The problem of course lies in the fact that without this killer instinct, it is sometimes hard to push myself to get better.

Over the past year I've read stories about players going from unknown to superb players in the span of a few months or a year. There is a soccer player in the premiership that has only played for something like six months, but once he found the sport he loved, he just played and played and played.

With poker, that is what a lot of people do. I've played online for over two years now, and I am certain that someone who has never played a hand of poker could be better than me at the end of this month if they had the drive. In a month, someone could play more hands online than I have in the last two years. I don't think I will ever be the type of person to just drop everything and completely submerge myself in one thing. It comes at the cost of perfection, but perfection isn't really what I'm after.

Ramble on, young man.

I am most happy with my life when I have a good balance going on. I enjoy a balance between hobbies and a balance of time between sleeping, being with Stacey, and enjoying my hobbies. If I have too much sleep I get stagnant and feel like I am not doing anything productive. If I play too much while ignoring Stacey or sleep, I get unhappy quickly and get grumpy fast. If I have too much Stacey, well, I've never really had too much Stacey :) I assume I would miss sleep and my own little hobbies though.

Getting back to the start of this post, I feel like I am in a very unique spot right now, and the world is my oyster. I don't have a ton of money, but that could change, and I don't really need a ton of money to do what I want. I want to travel, but I'm beginning to realize that there are more ways to see the world than landing an 8am-5pm job and taking my two or three weeks of vacation to exotic locales.

Peacecorps is an option, the JET program is an option, the possibility of studying abroad in grad school is still an option.

I know I'm going to enjoy my life, but I want to be able to remember it. I don't want it to be like a lazy Sunday, or some of the summer days in highschool when I played Everquest all day and night. Did I have fun? Sure. Was it relaxing? Yes. What did I accomplish? Not a damn thing.

Just like bluffing in poker. A bluff every now and then is all you need. It puts the fear of doubt into your opponents' minds. I'll be the first one to admit that I need a nice relaxing Sunday every now and then, to recharge my battery-but I don't need that all the time.

Accomplishing something hasn't really taken up a lot of my brain power, but the more I think about it, the more I really do want to make a difference. In a random kid's life through teaching, to my own life by completing an MBA, to a lot of people's lives by starting my own business... the possibilities are endless.

I have gotten a lot of great information out of my poker hobby the last few years. I'm not sure if I was ever a 'results-based' thinker, but I am now definitely a 'decision-making' thinker. Something I read in the archives of Rizen's blog was an entry about how he attributed his success to his ability to always want to do better and improve. He would look over hand histories and critically analyze his plays at the end of the day. One entry he wondered why he didn't do the same for his life in general. Was sitting in front of the computer all day a good decision? Was drinking four Cokes while playing poker a good decision? He's been on a diet recently and has cut out Coke from his diet and started exercising more.

I am starting to critically analyze my life as well, day by day. I still think I make good decisions, but I am really lacking a sense of accomplishment that comes with a goal in mind. I don't think winning any amount of money in poker will fill that void. Now... with that money, I'm sure I could start a business that might fill that void, but the actual playing of poker isn't what is going to do it.

Poker will likely become another hobby that I am above-average at, not great, and not good enough to turn into a profession.

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6:56 AM  

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