True Happiness This Way Lies

In the spring of 2009, I wrote my first ever piece of literature about poker called Managing Directors, Wardrobes and a $1.2k Loss. I sent it to five Editors of established poker magazines asking them if they wanted to publish my story. The story was a goal and that goal was to earn $45k through poker in a period of one year. This was not a goal based on just poker winnings but all forms of income earned through poker.

If you are regular readers of my monthly articles then you will know that I did not achieve my goal. However, one-year on from the time that I quit my goal I am achieving it. I am earning $45k through poker. Better late than never as someone famous once said.

When John Wenzel decided to put my mug in his magazine I didn’t realise the pressure that I would put on myself. Regular readers of my articles would ask me how I was performing against my target and it was hard telling them that I was failing. I felt slightly embarrassed that I had told people that I was going to achieve this lofty goal and was getting nowhere near it. I decided to quit my goal in Dec 09 and I felt a little bit lost and ashamed that I had let so many people down after voicing my visions of grandeur.

I told everyone who was listening, that the goal had ended, and I had joined the pile of people who had been there, not done it and couldn’t afford to buy the t-shirt. I suppose I told a great big fib because I never really gave up the goal at all. I just kept ploughing on trying to do the right thing. It was so easy to just forget it and to concentrate on improving my income in my day job instead. But I have always looked for adversity, and tried to befriend it, and in this case it was no different.

I used to sing to my son when he lay in his cot as an infant but there were only a few songs that I knew the words to without reading them from a sheet of paper. One of these songs was called True Happiness This Way Lies by The The. There is a line in that song that goes like this.

Have you ever wanted something, so badly that it possessed your body and your soul through the night and through the day until you finally get it! And then you realise that it wasn’t what you wanted after all. Then those self same sickly little thoughts now go and attach themselves to something or somebody new and the whole goddam thing starts all over again!

These thoughts reverberate around my head all of the time, which is probably the only reason I remember the song sufficiently enough, to sing it at Jude’s bedtime. It reminds me to never give up on my goals and dreams. It reminds me that there are some goals I will achieve then realise that I have walked along the wrong path and there are goals I won’t achieve as well, but the important lesson for me is the process never ends. You cannot stop dreaming! You cannot quit!

I use the word foundation a lot when describing my own personal journey. When I was younger I would view a mistake as a horrible thing that should have never happened or something to be ashamed of. I now understand that mistakes are my foundation to success. The more mistakes I make the larger my foundation of knowledge becomes. Each mistake takes you one step closer to finally finding the answer. I made a lot of mistakes during my $45k goal attempt and I have learned from them and this is why I will be successful this year and for many years to come.

So what were my biggest mistakes?

The first mistake I made was estimating time. I am crap at estimating – just ask my wife, six inches is nine inches, “in a minute,” is an hour and parking next to somewhere is always a mile away. The time limit I gave myself to achieve the goal was unrealistic. This is not a bad thing because it puts pressure on you to act. But I did get the two horribly out of sync and piled a lot of pressure onto my shoulders without sufficient enough time to achieve the goal. This pressure led to a craving for instant gratification. I needed every thing to happen and happen quickly so I could keep people updated with good progress reports, instead most of my writing at the time centered on arguments with my wife. All of this material came from the pressure that I was feeling and how it affected not just me but my family.

I also tried to do too many new things at the same time. I did not practice Pareto Principle and instead practiced Davy Principle because I needed instant gratification. Davy Principle was just throwing lots of energy into as many action items that I could find. I really needed to focus on one or two things at a time but instead tried to balance every spinning plate and in the end they all came crashing down.

Even though I was flapping around in the wind I was still building this foundation and most of it was sticking. I just didn’t realise it at the time. In this instance life is just like poker – you cannot force good profitable spots. Instead you need to be aware what a good spot looks like and then be ready to grab it when it reveals itself.

Over time, as I kept building on my foundation, I never lost the will to give up on my dreams. The specific $45k goal may have died but the dream never did. I never ever lost faith in my ability and that was the most important thing for me. Then good spots started to present themselves everywhere. I was stood in the crowd and we were all staring at the same things but I was the only one who could see them. I thought it was a joke but went ahead and grabbed the spots anyway. I looked back and people were still stood there staring at the same spots – they weren’t even blinking.

Bluefire Poker Coach, Alan Jackson, and Mental Game Coach, Jared Tendler, were spots that I instinctively recognised were good spots (Jesus I sound like Michael Barrymore!). I convinced Alan and Jared, to teach me how to play poker and I don’t think I could have persuaded them back in Spring 09 – I wasn’t ready. All of those mistakes and all of the good things that I did towards my initial goal allowed me to convince both Jackson and Tendler that I was as right for them as they were for me. Jackson and Tendler have turned me into a winning online 6-max cash game player.

I have decided to stop playing as much live poker so I can put more time and effort into my online game because I believe it is my strongest area for growth. My live tournament winnings continue to be positive but my live cash game is not profitable. In fact it has turned into an expense at the time I need more growth. I have no doubt that I have the capability to win money playing live but I need to implement Pareto Principle and remember the mistake of the Davy Principle.

The foundation I have built up since my journey started in the spring of 2009 is also helping me secure more work in other areas of the poker world. As you know I secured some work reporting for Pokernews at the European Poker Tour (EPT). Since then I have also secured work with Party Gaming at the World Poker Tour (WPT) and Unibet at the Unibet open. I would not have been able to secure this work without the foundation I built through my writing. This monthly article was the nucleus of all of that life.

So I continue to move forward in pursuit of my dreams; albeit a little bit more deliberate and slower than when I first started. Because of my experiences in the past eighteen months I am convinced, more than ever, that I can accomplish anything that I want and that is a really exciting thing to understand and be aware of and I invite you to come along for the ride.

As I have sung to my son a hundred times before The whole goddam thing is starting all over again!

First published in Poker Pro Europe magazine