I truly believe one of the key elements in becoming a great professional gambler is having balance in your life. I have never been one for playing very long sessions and think that after a certain amount of time at the table your sharpness goes down. I fine that I play my best poker usually only putting in 25-30 hours per week. Luckily for me I have built up some nice auxiliary income through commentating and poker training where I don’t have to worry about grinding for 200 hours a month to pay rent. I find that if I get on to a regular sleep, eating and workout schedule, my life is considerably happier than when I am stuck playing in long sessions. I also find that playing in smaller, less stressful games improves the quality of my life.
Recently, during the WSOPC, I have been playing a very large PLO game at the Bicycle Casino. The blinds are $5-$5 but there are unlimited straddles of any amount from any position. The game plays more like a $20-$40 PLO where people commonly win and lose over five figures per session. I think that I am highly +EV in the game. Should I absolutely play it then?
My normal game is a controlled style of no limit at $5-$10 and below. I feel like I am miles ahead of most of the other competition. It is rarely stressful and the variance is low. I do not have a chance to win five figures in one session like the PLO game. In that big game, however, even if I have a shot to win a ton of money in one night what about the times when the game is good, I am stuck, and it goes into the next day? I am supposed to stay around and continue playing—but what does that do to the rest of my life? If my winrate might be 30% in that game but I am going through four times the variance is the extra money (which by the way I may not ever see if I run below expectation and the game breaks within a few months) really worth the sacrifice of happiness in my life?
As recently as a few months ago I would say “Yes it is! I am a professional poker player and have to take the most +EV situations”. But now this big PLO game has really taught me that playing poker for money over the long haul is a balance. I do not want to be in a job that I absolutely loathe no matter how much money I make. I think that happiness is a very important attribute in my life. The next time you take big shots in a game ask yourself “Will the loss hurt more than he happiness that I will gain from the win?”