Hey guys. Thanks for checking out this entry. I trust that you're all out there doing what you love and living life to the fullest. This blog entry comes on the heels of a summer spent in Las Vegas playing poker tournaments at the World Series of Poker. This marks the 9th consecutive summer I've competed in the Series. From a financial perspective, things went poorly. I am reasonably happy with the effort and focus that I brought each day which is most important to me when it comes to playing tournaments. I have written about the variance of tournament poker in past blogs, so I won't bore you guys with any of that. I will say that the business is as competitive as ever, so there is no time to make excuses. I need to constantly be working on my game if I want to compete at the highest level.
The World Series of Poker is always a cool experience. One of the best parts is annually renting a house with good friends. I find that I learn so much about myself and others with each of these summer journeys. There are also so many life lessons to be learned from the game. Over the course of the Series, I witness just about every human emotion play out at the table. People come from all over the world to enter the tournaments, so there is the added bonus of expanding one's mind by meeting folks from different backgrounds with views different from one's own. This is definitely one of the perks of the business that I overlooked and took for granted early in my career. I feel that opportunities like this have been instrumental in my personal growth, and I'm forever indebted to the game of poker for providing them. I was more social at the tables this year then I ever have been during the Series. I met so many cool people at the tables. I prefer to chat in the early levels of the smaller events as I'm usually playing against people I haven't met before. In the events I play with a lot of tournament regulars, I am very quiet at the tables. I find it difficult to maintain conversation and still stay focused on the task at hand.
Let's be honest, the summers are a lot more fun when you're winning money. I have been able to mostly keep my sanity when going through downswings, however. It has not been an easy process, but it gets easier and easier with time. To anyone struggling with this, I'd suggest focusing on bringing yourself to the present moment and looking around. How lucky are we to have the opportunity to do what we love? How lucky are we to get paid to do it? People worldwide are dealing with real problems every second of every day. Inexplicably, I used to embarrass myself publicly complaining when things weren't going my way in poker. I've been on my life balance grind for the last few years and have had my eyes opened to the reality that poker is such a small piece of this world. Deriving one's self worth from his or her poker results is a very dangerous way to live.
I played a career-low 21 WSOP events this summer. I took two weeks off in the middle of the Series to attend World Cup 2014 in Brazil. I went with some of my best friends Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma and Byron Kaverman. Talk about a great time! We spent 6 days in Salvador and 3 days in Rio de Janeiro, both of which were absolutely beautiful cities. I found the Brazilian locals very kind and welcoming. The cuisine was awesome. I say this despite a street-meat experience gone bad that left us feeling terribly for a couple days. While in Brazil, we attended 3 pool play matches: Spain vs Netherlands, Germany vs Portugal, and Spain vs Chile. One of my favorite things to do is attend live sporting events. That said, the Spain vs Chile game in Rio was the craziest atmosphere of any game I've attended. My friends and I were supporting Chile that afternoon as was 90% of the attending crowd. The Chilean fans were going hard nonstop from start to finish, and you could sense the magnitude of the win for that country as they knocked off the Spanish dynasty. The World Cup was a true life experience, and I'm really glad my friends and I took the initiative to make the trip despite it being in the middle of our busiest time professionally.
Along my spiritual journey I've determined that I'm at my happiest when I'm having new experiences. I'll continue to jump at opportunities to do new things. Earlier this year I was introduced to formal meditation. I read a book called "8 Minute Meditation" by Victor Davich. I cannot recommend it more highly. I was on the brink of getting into meditation for maybe a year prior. It felt somewhat intimidating and I don't think I was quite ready for it. I feel fortunate to have been exposed to the practice and feel that I'm reaping many of its benefits. I feel that I'm able to get the most out of each of my experiences on days that I've meditated and worked out. It helps me bring myself to the present moment. Of course the present moment is all that we have so we might as well make the most of it. I'm finding that when I'm in whatever I'm doing that I am extremely happy. The fact that I'm present allows me to accept each situation as it is. I'm able to better ascertain what is and is not in my control. Meditation is very personal so you will just have to try it for yourself. Do yourself the favor of sticking it out when the process gets tough.
I have another big adventure on the horizon. I'm going to climb the Lemosho route of Mount Kilimanjaro in the African country of Tanzania in less than three weeks. It will be quite the journey and takes a full 8 days roundtrip. When I touch down in Tanzania, I will have visited all of the world's continents aside from Antarctica. I will be on a private climb with Jesse and his younger brother Paul. I expect that this will be very transformative from a personal growth standpoint. It's a huge bonus to do it with two great friends that I respect so much. I'm sure we'll learn a lot about ourselves. It will be a test physically to reach the summit of 19,341 feet. I trust that we will all have the endurance and motivation to reach the top, however the altitude poses a bit of a challenge.
After Kilimanjaro I'm headed to one of my favorite cities, Barcelona. I'm so inspired by the Spanish city already, so it's going to be extra special to be there in a great mindset after summiting Kilimanjaro. I intend on staying 17 days and will be playing a bit of poker while there. The European Poker Tour is hosting it's 100th overall series which should make for an awesome turnout. I'll be itching to play poker again and hopefully can walk away with a big score!
I'll fly from Barcelona to Spokane, Washington at the end of August. One of my best friends Mike Katz is marrying his lovely fiance Kara in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It will be a wedding for the ages as a huge group of my friends will all be in attendance. I'm looking forward to it. Recently when I booked a multiway flight from Birmingham, Alabama to Tanzania to Barcelona to Spokane, Washington I couldn't help but wonder if that exact flight route will be booked by anyone else ever.
It feels good to do a little writing. I hope to do some more of it. I'm on my way back to Birmingham in the morning to catch up with friends and family and to prepare my mind and body for Kilimanjaro. I literally can't wait to see my family. They are so special to me and always remind me how great life really is. My niece Alaina is approaching her 2nd birthday and my sister Heather and brother-in-law Ben are welcoming another baby girl Madeline in September. It's a very exciting time for us. A few months ago I met a really special girl named Justine who lives on the east coast of the US. We have connected on a very honest and mature level in the time we've shared together. I'm really inspired by her and am looking forward to spending more time together in the near future.