How Sacrifice sets you Apart

PokerStars ChristmasAs I get ready to spend my second consecutive Christmas away from home, just me and my sitngoes, something my mom said to me recently has been bouncing around my thoughts. She said:

“James, you know you sacrifice a lot for poker. Most people wouldn’t give up the things that you have.”

I guess I always knew I sacrifice a lot, after all it’s the mindset I learned from wrestling. If you wanna be the best, you gotta do more than all the people you’re competing against. It’s just weird to hear someone point it out like it’s so unusual. Honestly, I don’t know any other way to be. To want something and to not sacrifice whatever need be to make it happen just doesn’t make sense to me.

It’s really been resonating with me these last 2 months as I’m coming down the final stretch to finish Supernova Elite. When I got to Canada this summer I was only about 1/4th of the way to my goal for the year of 1 Million VPPs. I basically had to put in 300% as much work as I did the first half of the year. It’s been a dedicated 6 months, I’ve spent more Friday and Saturday nights at home working than any single guy in his mid-twenties should ever stand for. Then again, I’ve also been the biggest winner on PokerStars in 6-max SNGs during that time.


According to RescueTime, a computer app I use to monitor how I spend my time, I spent 61 hours grinding last week (proof here.) Monitoring the amount of time I allow myself to spend on things like Facebook is just one tiny little example of the ways I sacrifice for poker. Being a professional poker player is a lot like being a professional athlete, everything you do is going to affect your performance. What you eat, how many hours you sleep, how much you drink, how much caffeine you take in, ect… I’m constantly aware of my energy levels and the quality of my concentration and I tweak my lifestyle to improve these factors. It’s all connected to playing your A-game, even and perhaps especially the people you surround yourself with, the relationships you keep up, and the ones you choose to let go.

There’s an awesome book I read recently called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It’s about a professor who is selected of give a lecture as if he were going to die and had one last chance to impart his wisdom to others (spoiler alert, turns out he actually is dying.) In a very inspiring lecture, Pausch encourages his audience to live out their childhood dreams. Should strike a chord with anyone from the Chris Moneymaker era of poker.

Randy Pausch, when asked how he got tenure as a professor at Brown University a year early, he said:

“Oh that’s easy, call me any Friday night at my office and I’ll tell you.”

That basically sums up how I feel when people ask me how I got to where I am. I worked, fucking hard. I gave up time out partying, time chasing girls, and most importantly, time with my friends and family. I think it’s a common trait among entrepreneurial/self-employed people to sacrifice untold amounts from their personal life in the name of success. It becomes almost hard to let yourself do anything, b/c you feel like you are “not doing everything you could be doing to succeed.”

Jungleman Realtalk

There’s a reason they say it’s lonely at the top. It’s because the road to success is littered with a lot of attractive parking spots along the way. I really look forward to having a more balanced life next year, but I’m not sure what that even means. SNE will be much more manageable since I’ll be playing high stakes from Jan 1st onward, but I’m not really sure how that’s going to effect my lifestyle. I’ve never really known how to balance having a social life and crushing at poker. Usually when one is going awesome the other is getting ignored. This is an issue b/c everything in life is constantly influx. No day that goes by do you or your abilities stay the same. Every day you get better or worse at everything, from poker to picking up girls and everything in between.

Being someone who sacrifices a lot definitely sets you apart. In case it’s unclear, I’m not necessarily saying it’s a good thing. It just is what it is. We’re all on this planet running around chasing dreams while at the same time trying to be happy. I just hope I do a good job of the two. Cheers to another year.

I’ll end with this, it’s a quote my roommate Nick (who was obv cool as shit) had framed on our wall when I lived in Australia.

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:

Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”


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