In the first two parts of this article, I gave much advice on structuring your poker career, and the proper roles of health, ego, and obsession. But what I have not yet discussed are the spiritual and philosophical aspects of life as a poker player. How should we live our lives away from poker? What relationship should we have with the game? How can we become happy, and still be poker players? I c…
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Aug 2013

We concluded the first part of this article series with a discussion on structuring your poker life and career. But being a poker player is about more than merely playing poker—it is also in how you conduct your life around it. It is no secret that poker is an unwieldy horse. It is stubborn, unpredictable, and will happily buck anyone who can't hold on. Most can't. You likely know someone wh…
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Jul 2013

Nobody teaches us how to be poker players. Poker culture teaches us how to slowplay, how to setmine, how to manage our bankroll. It teaches us how to think, how to talk, what is cool and what is not. We absorb these teachings eagerly. But when was it going to teach us how to be poker players? What to think of ourselves? How to thrive in a culture that is built on degeneracy? If you know the lives…
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Jul 2013

Poker cannot be played alone. For a game to be dealt, you must have other players to battle, to deceive, to outmaneuver, to control. And yet, every hand of poker you are ever dealt you will play alone. No one else is in your corner. You may find sympathy in others, encouragement, words of wisdom. But you know they have no stake in your success. You are the only one who will feel your swings. Your…
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Jun 2013

“Poker theory” is inherently seductive. In a game full of chaos and uncertainty, poker theory beckons to us, promising comprehensibility and control. But while theory is powerful, it is not a panacea. That's not to say that theory in and of itself is flawed—rather, that we are. Human beings are only boundedly rational. We are merely approximations of logical thinkers. And yet, we…
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Jun 2013

We all come to poker with a blank slate. No one arrives knowing how to identify a SA/WB, read a flop texture, or spot a cooler. We learn these things through the feedback that poker provides us. And yet, though poker gives us all essentially the same feedback, some of us become proficient and others do not. One of the strongest determinants of how good a player will become is in how they respond t…
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Apr 2013

There is a vague and shadowy mythology surrounding the Feel Player. He is a genius of mysterious origins. No one can explain how or why he is good at poker—not even the Feel Player himself. He is like a mathematical prodigy hailing from a tiny, illiterate village in India, or a low-born squire who pulls a mythical sword from its pedestal. He is a fluke, an exception. He is not supposed to be…
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Apr 2013

What is learning? How does it work? How can we learn better? These questions might seem naïve on first glance. Learning is fundamental to how humans negotiate the world, and yet it feels strange and reductive to take it aside and interrogate it. But if you are a poker player, learning is an essential part of your vocation. To really improve at poker, it is imperative to optimize the process of lea…
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Mar 2013

I don't tell people these days that I used to be a professional poker player. It seems like a weighty and cumbersome admission, one that always leads to the same tired conversation. The last time I played a hand of poker was well over a year ago. That life feels like an episode long behind me—an identity I've left behind. And yet sometimes, in my dreams, I find myself playing poker again, mu…
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Dec 2012

The embryo of this post has been sitting on my desk for several weeks now. Originally, it was a frenzy of thoughts that I scribbled purely for myself, just to flush the words out. But after seeing it on my desk day after day, I finally decided to post it here. I apologize if this seems self-indulgent, but it seems to me the right thing to do. Several weeks ago I drove to Kaufman, Texas to voluntee…
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Nov 2012
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