A lot has happened in the last week or so. Firstly, the seminar I did last week was a pretty big success. It had a huge turnout and I was really happy with the content and my delivery. It also ended up running 2 hours and fifteen minutes (because I thought a 90 minute seminar with 30 minute Q&A meant 2 hours total, haha). The reviews I got after it was over were crazy though. I had a couple of people even tell me that it was the best material on poker that they've ever seen and that I was discussing concepts they've never seen explained before. I don't know if the part about it being the best poker material ever is true, haha, but I have to say I'm really happy with how it turned out. If you missed the seminar, Dailyvariance edited it and made it available for purchase. Go to this link and pick it up: http://www.dailyvariance.com/web-seminars/world-class-versus-mediocrity/ . (I've been told if you watch the seminar and decide it wasn't worth the investment, you can get 100% of your money back, no questions asked, so there's no risk). Poker philosophy and methods of improving are the sorts of things that I really don't discuss in videos, but I try to impart into my one-on-one coaching students. I think it is an invaluable part of being a professional poker player that is too often overlooked. In other news, I'm sure many of you have heard by now that Jungle was denied access to Canada. It's a bit silly, but long story short, our plans to relocate to Vancouver have sort of been canned overnight. It's unfortunate, as I was really looking forward to experiencing Vancouver and hanging out with Galfond and company. But life when life throws you a curveball, all there is to do is try to hit the next one. Now our plans have reverted back to going to Portugal after all - most likely Lisbon. Jungle and I will be living with Jose "Girah" Macedo and will be flying out there sometime in the coming week. I have no doubt that it's going to be an interesting excursion. I've never really been to Europe for any length of time. Well... I went to Paris for a week when I was 19, but I choose not to count that since it was a woefully myopic experience of the city. To be honest, I'm actually kind of happy that Vancouver was taken off of the table. I think going to Portugal will be a much more interesting and novel experience. That is to say, I think both Jungle and I will learn and grow a lot from living there. When it comes to adventure, my life philosophy is "say yes to everything." Of course, that comes with certain obvious caveats (e.g. I've never smoked a cigarette or snorted a line), but when it comes to life and experience I don't think you can ever know what will or won't make you grow as a person. I want to be the kind of man who will welcome new experiences, new people and places with open arms. That's not to say I'm not talking out of my ass right now, that I'm not some kid who's just barely got his little hooks into life. I absolutely am! But fuck it, it's never too early to get your Ahab on. WARNING: emotional laundry ahead. Try playing this to make it more bearable.
It's funny, I probably have a good idea of the kind of person I want to be now, probably clearer than I have ever have before. But at the same time when I compare myself to who I want to be, I see how I fall pitifully short. I think I'm the kind of person who oscillates between hating and loving himself. If you think about it, that's probably part of what drives me to be good at poker. We say that poker players are driven by their egos, and of course that's true for me too. But unlike many other poker players, I don't think what I am fighting for is the respect of others, but my own self-respect. It's hard to feel as generous with other people as with yourself. I was having a conversation with my good friend Steve the other day. It was 4AM and we were getting food at a late night diner after a long night out on the town. Steve is in recovery (NA) and was telling me how he was having trouble working on his fourth step. I didn't know much about the twelve step program so he explained to me. In the literature, the fourth step of recovery is to "make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." What this means most simply is to make an honest account of all of our internal resentments, conflicts, and contradictions. I love the word "fearless." It occurs to me that I am full of fear. Now, I'm not a drug addict, but the more I hear about the twelve steps, the more I see how much just about anyone could benefit from working through them. At the very least, just about every poker player I know is riddled somewhere in their core with conflicts and contradictions. And myself? Shit, I wouldn't know where to begin. I should charge myself the hour. I remember telling him, "man, I think poker has fucked up my relationship with money. It's like, when I started playing poker I was 16 years old and couldn't touch anything I made, it was all imaginary money, even after I'd made my first 100K. Poker teaches you to be detached from your money, that it's just a means to an end. But the further I go through life the more I have trouble connecting my happiness with the money I make. In fact, it's usually the reverse." "So why do you try so hard to make money?" he asked. Steve is probably one of the worst people with money I know - he's the kind of guy who'd be perfectly as happy sleeping on a floor as would be in a 5 star hotel. "Well, it's for security isn't it? Security, freedom, independence. The ability to go on adventures and do whatever I want and never have to worry about it." Of all of the poker players I know, I'm actually one of the most frugal. I live my life relatively simply and avoid the excesses of most young nouveau riche. Steve knows this. "Well that's bullshit," he interjected, "if you wanted right now you could sell your shit and travel the world and go on all sorts of adventures right now. What's stopping you? You're young, you have money, you have no responsibilities." "Yeah, well..." I replied carefully, "it's not that simple." He was right, and it was. But I continued, "If I convince myself of that, then I'll stop being motivated to be successful. Actually there's a phrase that I got from this author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He came up with this term "fuck-off money." Basically, he said that everyone has an amount of money at which if somebody called your phone at 6AM, you could pick it up and no matter who it is, say "fuck off" and hang up. That amount of money is your fuck-off money. So I'm just trying to get my fuck-off money, and that's what keeps my nose to the grindstone." "And what'll you do when you get that amount of money?" I considered this for a moment. I'm not sure I'd planned that far ahead. "I don't know, whatever I want to by the time I get there. I'm sure I'll be a totally different person on the other side." This was a copout, and I knew it. "No, come on, that's bullshit." "I don't know, I'll just be a writer. I'll travel around and go on adventures and do whatever. Fuck if I know." "Then do that now!" As usually happens in these sorts of conversations, I ran out of answers. He went on, "Really, almost all of the people I know who are happy are people who don't have money. It's the ones who have money who are anxious and miserable." I notice that whenever I hear generalizations like this, my analytical gears star whirring and buzzing, figuring out what sort of fallacies or selection biases I can poke into them. I reply, "Well you know, I actually remember reading a psychological study the other day. It said that although most people tend to think that a person's happiness fluctuates throughout their lives - it might go down if you get into a car accident, but then shoot back up when you get married, and go way up when you win the lottery, and so on. People imagine their happiness graph as going up and down depending on what happens to them in life. But the reality, the study said, is that most people have a baseline of happiness in their lives. And although winning the lottery, or a death in the family might make your happiness shoot up or down for a certain period of time, over time it reverts back to normal. Whatever around you is just the status quo. So your happiness is determined by who you are and how you relate to the world, rather than what part of the world is around you." Steve nodded in agreement. "That's so right. I agree completely. What's your point though?" "Well, I think I must just be somebody who's inherently depressive. And maybe no matter what I do or how many things I get right, I'm just not going to be happy." He began to interject, but I cut him short, "and maybe that's okay! Maybe that's just part of who I am. And if that changes someday, cool, and if it doesn't, maybe not. But I have to live with it and be the best person I can be in spite of it." "Haseeb, people can change." "Yeah I know, I'm not saying they can't! I'm just saying that you have to be honest about yourself and who you are." He sighed and leaned back in his chair, "You know Haseeb," he grumbled, looking off toward the window, "the thing that you'll learn someday is that life isn't about getting what you want. It's about wanting what you have." Haseeb