I’m currently traversing the skies back to San Francisco after a week-long stint in Las Vegas. A major hobby of mine for the past 10+ years has been playing poker, and I’ve always fantasized about spending a long period of time during the World Series of Poker (a month of large tournaments in Las Vegas culminating in the “World Championship of Poker”) playing in tournaments daily. I’ve played in the final event several times, but I never really bothered in the medium sized tournaments that fill the month. I can now say that I’ve finally done that, and am very happy to be returning to my normal life.
Something that I never understood is why we haven’t evolved enough to get rid of our shadow side. Part of the reason I wanted to go was because I hadn’t played poker in a long time and it sounded fun, but another strong reason was to give myself “too much of a good thing” so that I would come back to the Bay Area more motivated to work. I had been taxing my brain from morning to evening working on web development and integrating Machine Learning for the past several weeks without a proper way to decompress. Although playing 10 hours a day of poker seemed to do the job, I probably could have had better results with a 2-3 day wilderness and reading retreat. It certainly would have been less expensive!
During the tournaments I also thought a lot about variance. It plays such a big part in our lives, especially when doing entrepreneurial activities. I consider myself a pretty staunch probabilistic oriented person, but even I’m often times laughably results oriented. I had to catch myself during the tournament oscillating between thinking I’m the greatest poker player of all time, and that I was the worst person at the table. All dependent on how many chips I had, which was often dependent on just 1-2 big hands that I played where both my opponent and I got good cards and one of us was lucky enough to win.
I’m pretty agnostic to winning or losing in most things in life by now fortunately, I just like to feel that I played well. On that scorecard I felt pretty happy. I also tried to be present and focused during the grueling hours of poker tournaments. I can’t count the number of times I’ve played high stakes poker and I’m sitting there on my phone refreshing email/news/IG out of a distraction addiction. On this regard I was also successful.
There’s so much variance in life, and we make so many big decisions based off of the immediate feedback we get. I was pretty lucky to “run good” when I first started trading and playing poker. I never would have been able to withstand the downswings of either mentally (or of course financially) if I hadn’t. I don’t have a great general purpose rule for recognizing whether I’m getting lucky/unlucky when I start something new, but I try to be conscious that things can change dramatically.
I’m going to keep things brief, and work on getting back to a consistent weekly blog output. I’m only in the Bay Area for a few days and then traveling to Utah for a friend’s dad’s birthday and some outdoor activities through the weekend.
Today I’ll leave you with a photo from the entrance of the Wynn: