It's been awhile since I blogged. A couple of years ago I was blogging 3-4x/month while I was boldly pursuing a 7 figure year in poker. Back then there were plenty of online games for me to try to reach my goal. Unfortunately I fell a few hundred thousand dollars short. I did have a pretty good year overall. Oh how things have changed since.
We all know about Black Friday. Considering my main site was Full Tilt Poker I had nearly my entire online roll on there. I'm happy Stars+DOJ is working together to pay us back but I'm approaching it w/ cautious optimism (word is Americans won't get 100% of our money back). I also went through other turmoil in my life, as my dad was diagnosed w/ terminal stomach cancer (shortly after Black Friday). After the diagnosis I took my parents into my home so my dad could spend his last days w/ all of us (including my daughter and his only grandchild that he doted on) and I watched every day as my dad got weaker and eventually pass away last November. I will never forget picking up my kid and her asking why she wasn't taking the bus home and me answering that grandpa died and then seeing her turn away and wipe away tears.
Never had I gone through such a heartbreaking and gut wrenching ordeal in my life seeing my dad pass away. I've always been grateful for things in my life and have felt blessed in many ways (I thank God for) but losing somebody so close was tough to handle. I went into a shell and basically did not want to do anything for awhile. To get my mind off of it I turned to video games (it's the Asian and nerd in me) and played no poker.
Well in life anything can happen and while we were prepared for my dad's death, there was a shocker in our family about a month later when my cousin who's a couple of years older than me suddenly passed away. He had brought his wife and 2 little girls from Korea a few years ago to give them a better life in the U.S. My family and his family were close and we visited each other often, his in Los Angeles, mine in Las Vegas. While I was still mourning the passing of my dad, I was shocked, as were the rest of my family at the passing of my cousin. This was totally unexpected, especially considering he didn't have any significant health problems (coroner ruled heart attack). It really felt like I had been hit in the stomach twice.
I didn't answer calls or talk to anybody (except for my family) for a couple of months. I've always been the loner type and have tried to solve problems on my own. Even w/ poker the majority of my improvements have been thinking and analyzing the game on my own (w/ the help of forums, videos, and books). I don't advocate this approach though because it's easier and more productive to have a network of people to discuss things w/. Anyway I neglected some things in my life (but not family) including my friends and my coaching site. I also went into some financial turmoil for the first time ever. It's not because I lost money at poker or anything else, but because I spent no time trying to make money for several months and I spent a lot of money taking care of my family and extended family during my dad's last days. It was also a combination of other things financial that I won't get into because it's personal. I also had other personal issues that were causing me a lot of stress. I won't get into it but my closest friends know about it (it's not health related so I'm ok).
Well I resumed poker this year and the last thing I needed was to run bad, but that's what happened. I started off grinding on Merge and some live poker and I ran about as bad as I've ever run (including a month where I ran 40 buyins below ev). The past 12 months just felt like a perfect storm of unfortunate events for me. Prior to that the worst thing that's ever happened to me was a 400k hands break even stretch (back in 2008, which also happened to be my most profitable year). In between I also played a lot of WSOP events and lost some money but not enough where it was considered a disaster. I'm realistic so losing money grinding WSOP events didn't bother me.
I've always been a person of faith (Christianity) + realist (yes they can coexist together) + optimist but it took a lot of inner strength to pick myself up during these extremely difficult times. I thank God for it. I also think one's approach to life is vital in times like these. Actually the way we approach life determines the legacy we leave behind, and I hope that I and everybody else approach life where there are no regrets and the world is a better place after we pass on. I'm reminded of Steve Jobs saying live every day like it was your last and make the world a better place, not only for you, but for everybody else.
I guess since the people reading this are mostly poker players I should leave some advice that's poker related. Here it is: During this entire time, whenever I played poker, whether it was live cash, a WSOP event, or online poker, I was focused on playing the best I could that I can't look back and say I played poorly at any point. So no matter how bad things are going, don't let it affect your game, don't let it affect your decisions on the poker table, and more importantly don't let it affect your decisions in life.
The last thing I want to say is that the last 3 months have been good for me in poker (outside of the WSOP). I've been winning consistently. Going forward I plan on being more active w/ my live poker coaching site stackemcoaching and here at Cardrunners, helping others improve their games, blogging more, getting more involved in charitable things, improving as a poker player, spending time w/ family, but most importantly growing into the man my dad and God always envisioned me to be.
What will your legacy be?