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  1. Full Disclosure... I went through a messy divorce this past year, lost my father and grandfather all in the same time period. My bankroll suffered indirectly. My play wasn't up to par , mixed with a downswing , and playing above my bankroll just lead to disastrous results. Now I could sit around and say boo hoo look at me , But I grinded through and came out stronger because of it. I made adjustments in my life and got focused. I feel better and got out of a toxic situation. My health is better, I eat better and I have more fun. When it came to poker, I used discipline and sought new motivation for my game. My game was more self centered before but now I realize that long term, I am doing this for my 2 little boys. I plan to pay my mortgage, so they will always have a home , and pay for their college or trades in life one day through these earnings. My career is still a priority, but in today's world one salary is not enough and poker is my supplemental career. When I talk about my kids , poker and work, people always say... "I don't know how you do it". The answer is simple though. It's about discipline. Having kids, while pursuing a dream is a hard endeavor. Below I listed some tips on how to succeed in the Dad/ Poker world. ( This goes for Moms as well)

    1.) Kids come first - this needs to be number one. You need to put your kids first. This means attending their soccer practices, back to school nights , birthday parties etc. We only have so much time in our lives and we need to help these little guys/gals out. If your putting a card game ahead of your kids schedule then its never going to work. And before you say " well I need to make this money to help them" ... Watch the Eric Seidel pokerography. His kids are interviewed and say he never missed a high school sports game a day in their lives. Eric is one of the top players in the world and he can do it.

    2.) Eat Better / Exercise More - If you are like me, and your work full time, and play almost full time , then your health is going to take a toll. Kids in general will make you sleep less. I have found though by eating better and making exercise a part of your daily routine , I have more energy and can sleep less and still feel more energetic. This is a huge challenge for a lot of people. My recommendation is making prop bets to get started ( I currently have a bounty on my head, if people catch me eating certain carb foods on certain days I have to pay them cash ) Money motivates us and this helps. On days I can't go to the gym , I run around the back yard with my kids, play soccer with them, jump on the trampoline or work out in my basement. Involve your kids in your exercise and you accomplish 2 things in once. Family time and Exercise.

    3.) Wait til the kids are asleep... this is huge. Trying to play while your kids are running around , screaming , breaking stuff or making a mess is going to be a disaster. I do not start playing at night until my kids go to bed. It allows me to focus more and actually unwind for the day. Trying to watch your kids and play just doesn't work. Make a set bed time every night and stick to it.

    4.)Time management .. laying clothes out, pre packing ... Creating time to play is a must. This means when the kids are coloring, doing homework or watching TV, I am making lunches , laying out clothes for the next day, checking book bags etc. By pre planning and getting things set up for the rest of the week , you will create more time to play . So when you start playing online , you don't have to worry about something you forgot to do for their school the next day. Create more time by becoming more organized.

    5.) Naps ... This is the ultimate secret. When my kids nap, I nap. A good 25 min power nap will do wonders for your health and well being. There is a lot of good studies out there that say the same thing. Learn to squeeze in a good nap. Put down your phone, turn off the TV and just learn to nap or relax. Sometimes I will get 2 - 15- 20 min naps in a day and pays off wonderfully when putting in some late nights on the felt.

    Dad life is hard. Work Harder!

  2. Typically we vacation in June since it’s our anniversary and birthday’s but this year my grandmothers memorial service was scheduled for the beginning of the month and then my niece had her senior recital and graduation which we wanted to be a part of. So we decided we’d do July but then my wife got called for jury duty for the entire month. So by the time August rolled around I was really, really ready for vacation!

    As most of you know my full-time job is being a pastor which in some ways can be a 24/7 job. However, my typical day has me doing church work from 9-5 or 6 and then I start my poker grind usually around 7 and wrap-up anywhere between 1-3 depending on how deep I get in tourneys. Basically it’s like having 2 full-time jobs. So the plan for August was to take 3 weeks off from my church work and limit my poker playing to smaller MTT’s like I did last month so regardless of whether running good or bad the results wouldn’t impact my mood in any way while we were vacationing.

    We had a great 3 weeks! Some highlights included doing a 9 mile hike which included 21 waterfalls, getting to meet and have lunch with PA grinder Brkwng3, doing a day-trip into New York City, touring Longwood Gardens, and spending a week in Atlantic City which included some great meals and the Air Show featuring The Thunderbirds.

    Also, while in AC, I was able to play 2 live tourneys. The first was on the day of the eclipse which was a $120 deepstack 10k GTD. 203 people entered with 27 paying…unfortunately I busted 33rd. I felt I played well the entire day with the only mistake really being a hand about 20 or so before my bust-out hand where I made Cbet that I probably shouldn’t have.

    The other tourney was a small daily, but deep-stacked tourney at The Golden Nugget. The level of play there was so bad it was funny. In one hand early in the tourney I flopped a set on a very wet board. After a donk bet and a caller I raised to charge draws. Only the caller guy called. The turn brought 4 to a straight on the board plus a possible flush. The tourist guy immediately and very excitedly says I’m all in. The whole table burst out laughing. The bet was for almost 5x the pot so I sigh folded. It was just that kind of day…every hand I made was just slightly beat or got outdrawn. Then towards the end in these pot where 3 to 4 limpers was quite common, I ended up not having good enough hands to shove. Needless to say I didn’t cash in this one either.

    Also, while in AC, I was able to play on PokerStars NJ. This was my first time on PS since Black Friday and was very exciting. I put $100 on with the intention of playing some $10 and less tourney’s and either running it up and cashing out before going home or making sure to bust the entire $100 by the last day. I had been told how soft NJ sites are and oh boy the NJ grinders weren’t kidding. I haven’t seen that bad of play since pre-Black Friday. My biggest problem was an extreme amount of run-bad. I ran 27bb/100 below expectation for the week. Regardless though, I had a ton of fun playing the software again and the bounty builder tourney’s are awesome. They essentially kept me rolled the entire week because I was making the money back in bounties but then would have bad beats just short of getting in the money. I also played the Spin and Go’s to stay rolled for the week…again the level of play was terrible. At the end of the week I was slightly short of break even so I played some larger events but failed to cash. More so than usual though, I’m hoping and praying Pennsylvania gets regulated soon so we can have the superior software and bad player pool like NJ, DE and NV do.

    As for the rest of my online grind, I played a lot during the beginning of the month and then a lot less as we started to actually be on the road towards the end. Thankfully it was overall another good month even with intentionally punting the PokerStars bankroll.

    155…Tournaments Played
    64…. Cashes (41%)
    14…. Final Tables
    6....…Top 3 Finishes
    $5180.32 in total cashes (15.95% ROI)

    Now onto my Merge up-date. For those not familiar with my blog, Merge stopped allowing Pocket Fives to track scores on September 5th 2016, so what I’m doing here is tracking where I would have been had they not stopped tracking. I do play some on other networks but Merge gets out 95% of my volume so I thought it would be fun and motivating to keep things going as if though it never stopped. I use Poker Dominator to track all tourney’s so these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers as of the last day of the month.

    Merge Lifetime Total: $ 444473.21
    Career Lifetime Total: $508760.65
    Career number of Cashes: 4024
    Follow my monthly results in real-time by following me on Twitter: @YourPokerPastor
    Thanks for reading...please post a comment with your thoughts or anything you'd like me to address in future blogs.

  3. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is a phrase I have heard a few dozen times in my life from various individuals crossing my path. Crossing the poker table though? A similar statement is usually coming from a man well into is 70's, rendering the opposite "Huh, I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks" as they slowly rake in a pot.

    When playing a hand in poker, win or lose, if you're serious about the game, often times you'll look at how you could have improved. Did you make the right decision from a mathematical standpoint? Maybe there is something you could have done better to maximize your value? Naturally, in the art of progression, you learn from unlocking that knowledge, and move on in your career as a better player (even if only in that one spot).

    "Clogging leaks" to poker players is the art of fixing bad decisions of the past, in preparation for future times where they will face similar choices. This is one of many takeaways from poker you can apply to your life in an effort to better your day-to-day. It seems more logical that the game of poker mirrors life in the sense that it gives constant examples of people that don't continuously make the same mistakes over and over, rather than being an exception to the rule that bad decisions are an unfortunate inevitability to anyone making a single error in judgement. It is my belief that this could easily tie back into teaching old dogs new tricks, as well as past mistake makers not being deemed for eternity to continue the same patterns.

    It is said that the probability of a former prison inmate returning to prison is somewhere around 80%. Beyond a side rant about the system not working...wouldn't one assume the downswing of being behind bars (if the system worked) would be enough to sway someone to clog that leak in their game? I sometimes wonder if poker had been introduced nationwide, to learn at a high level, if these statistics would still be the same. Maybe the average individual would be more aware of the fact that they don't have to be that negative statistic?

    Probability is something we face in poker with every hand. Mastering the fact that you are at the mercy of mathematics, and knowing that all you can do is put yourself in the best position to win, are both key elements in getting better at the game of poker. This too can transfer to the game of life.

    Many people have the idea that whenever they finally happen to win the lottery, their life would be whole. Alas! I have seen many examples of money not buying happiness. Financial hurdles are the biggest to jump through as we speak, but any success in that field, or any other for that matter, should not be relied on for happiness. It should become a compliment to a life in which you have found a sense of peace with all potential outcomes...including the lows, not just the highs!

    Learning not to over-invest emotion into the game during the highs and lows was another "breakthrough" if you will. Things are great when we are winning, and terrible when we are losing, right? Perhaps instead of lower stakes to lower emotions a bit, maybe the dynamic is what is hurting the process. It is easier in poker to tilt off more money if I am already on the downward spiral, and in turn that causes my overall value to be much lower. In life it is easy to make things worse in forgettable, regrettable, and almost petty spots that in turn causes the overall value of life to be much lower.

    I recall after playing online during a Sunday grind I was a bit frustrated about another Sunday full of close calls and high emotions. Online legend and hometown hero of our shared, sometimes despised residence of Sioux City, IA, William Reynolds, told me in response "We can't discredit our effort by our results. That takes away from the mindset that we did everything we could have today to put ourselves in the best position to win". A lot of what Will has told me lifetime has stuck with me. I have tried to absorb what ever his astonishing, and at times unorthodox mind projects, but this was pretty much a mini-epiphany.

    Pictured is a photo from 2011 of Will and a much heavier me at Red Rock. This day was a prime example of Mr. Reynolds' desire to reach the top no matter the mountain being climbed, and was also one of the first legitimate steps in me moving to better my mind, my body, and myself.

    One thing that would surely be an infinite, renewable power source if we could figure out how to harness it would be undervalued effort. Underappreciated effort. The constant examples of work put in by everyday individuals that goes unnoticed seems to rival the number of sand grains on Earth. You have to hang your hat more on the fact that you know you are going to be better tomorrow based on the effort put forth today.

    Always doing things with certainty is certainly the best path! How are you going to win if you never think you can? What was that Henry Ford quote? "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right" ...That's the one!

    Confidence, not cockiness. Knowing you are going to make the best moves, the best play, the best effort. Leave it all on the court, floor, ice, street, or table. If you are not putting yourself in a winning mindset, you'll only be left with bad beat stories and excuses to what could have been. You will stumble and come up short with that mindset of course more times than not (math says so), but you must continue the progressing attitude that keeps you moving forward to find the times where you come out on top.

    Humbling yourself must go hand in hand with confidence. Maybe you hit a big score in a Sunday Major, and get a bit too over confident on the next Sunday loading that same table. You find out quickly that last week's tournament has nothing to do with this week's. The only thing you can take from any length of time is the information that particular moment provided. You can only bring a better version of you to battle next time with newly harnessed information at your fingertips. You should be better for it as a person, and as a player of whatever game you are in.

    I am not sure if any of this translates to anyone, or if it made sense to anyone else besides myself. I do know my overall poker experience lifetime has been a perfect example of a potentially harmonious life. I have learned so many things from the game and met so many faces with so many different backgrounds. For a degenerate hobby portrayed stereo-typically in back rooms and ending in gunpoint standoffs, I'd say it is a pretty beautiful game! It has taught me so much, and I have met so many amazing people just by splashing pots with them.

    Thank you poker. For teaching me things I probably would have never known about the beating hearts living life, giving effort, and playing the game right along with me!

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