The Weekend After Christmas: Back to the Woods
January 1, 2022

I haven't done much and it's been nice.  Shelley and I have been hanging out at her Mom's place in Fallbrook, CA.  On Saturday we hung around the house all day.  I put in a bunch of reading time on my new Kindle, which is amazing, even if it's just for the fact that it gets me reading more.  I've never liked television and it depresses me even now sitting on the couch with Shelley, looking away from the TV, seeing three faces staring at the tube.

Shelley, Casey (Shelley's step sister), and I drove down the hill and left the saggies to see Avatar in 3D.  On the way I asked her, "Are you a Senior?  (nope).  Junior?  (nope).  Freshman?  (yup.)  Where?  (Harvard)"  What?  Harvard High School.  Oh man.  I was way off.  I met her last year and she's consistently impressed me, totally thought she was older.  Anyways, the movie was awesome.  James Cameron did a helluva job.

Sunday was Sunday.  By the time the Mulligan had started I was about to cash in my first tourney, the UB $100k, and hadn't busted out of anything.  I was out of screen space on my laptop's 17" screen with 6 tables, had 2 more hanging off the bottom, and the Pro Bounty $1r minimized because I simply couldn't pay attention to it until I busted something.  No problem.  Made the money at 27, then busted immediately losing a flip.  I would cash in nothing else, but somewhere in the afternoon FTP decided to go kaput.  Like, all the way crash, and I happened to still be in the Mulligan, getting my buyin returned plus a $35 profit or so.  Yay.

For Christmas my Mom got me "A Walk in the Woods," by Bill Bryson.  It's the story of an English journalist living in New England who attempted to thru-hike the Appalachian Trial.  It was a great read.  I've always been an outdoorsman.  I heard of the three major trails in Colorado simply by some of my hikes taking me on the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) and by being a part of the guide community out there, but I didn't meet my first thru-hiker until the spring of 2005.  I was driving into Kernville, CA from the East, coming over the pass when I saw a group of hitchhikers with backpacks.  My kind of people, I will ALWAYS stop if I have anywhere to put them.  They needed a ride down the hill to the post office.  No problem, hop in.  We went about a mile until we found another, somebody they knew, hop in too.  We drove seven miles to the nearest post office, right on my way, so they could pick up supplies for the next segment of their journey.

Turns out they were thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.  They started at the Mexican border in mid April, and it had taken them a little over a month to make it to where I found them.  They hiked across the Mojave desert, across San Jacinto, San Gregorio, the San Gabriels, and more Mojave near Tehatchapi.  Their desert travels were over and they were entering the Sierras.  They all picked up packages of food they or loved ones had mailed to themselves, general delivery, which gave them a two week window to make it to the post office and pick it up.  In each box they also had ice axes, crampons, and other winter gear to assist them through the mountain passes like Forester.  They packaged stuff they didn't need anymore up, shipped it somewhere, and were ready to go.  I offered them a ride back to the trail, but they wanted a day in town to shower, do laundry, and the like.  I took them to the guide house in Isabella, drove them to the laundromat, and soaked up the stories of the trail, listened to them call each other by their trail names, and heard them dream about walking all the way to Canada, covering 2,650 miles on foot in less than six months.

I wanted in.

I spent that summer guiding, then had my motorcycle accident, spent 5 days in the hospital, moved to Minnesota where I didn't even want to walk 2 miles outside because it was so damn cold, went to the 2006 WSOP, took 2nd, and the rest is pretty well documented history.

I went to my first WSOP in 2003, driving between Colorado and California for some sort of guiding thing.  I played 10-20 LHE and mucked the winner at showdown in a few hundred dollar pot.  I didn't repeat that mistake until two weeks ago in that PLO pot I should have gotten half of for $750.  I never wanted to play the tournaments, thinking that $1500 and especially $10k was a ridiculous amount of money to put into a poker tournament.  I had already won half a dozen live tournaments in my life, mostly the daily $30r at the Hustler.  I thought the rebuy period was a game to get in for the minimum.  Now I know that the goal is the opposite obviously (thanks Nick and Daryl!).  But, $1500 to me basically represented some sweet gear that I needed and enough money to live for a month.

In those early days of playing poker full time, which unofficially started when I was fired from Peak 3 in August 2003, poker was awesome because it allowed me the time to get out in the woods as I wanted to and gave me more money than any normal job I could have that allowed me to do the same thing.  I miss those years the most, 2003-2005.  I was always broke, but I could always play some small stakes games and make money.  I rarely had a bankroll over $1k because I never really thought it was necessary.  The games were so easy, I didn't care about money, didn't want to play higher, just wanted to make my $100 a day and then go rock climbing.  I was much happier.

I'm still pretty dang smiley, and still very happy, but high stakes poker is stressful.  I don't give a damn about being rich, or famous, or the best, and I've never enjoyed poker enough to be happy just playing poker.  It's always been a means to an end for me.  I love poker because of the freedom that it provides.  I love the game when it's played with people that I like, but usually I'm working and that's not the case.

I've always somewhat regretted getting into tournament poker full time because of this huge chunk of time in the middle of the summer called the World Series.  It's a can't miss for tournament professionals.  I do enjoy the series, and do look forward to it every year, but truly think I would be happier if I played cash games nine months a year and spent another three in the woods somewhere, guiding, counseling, something, like I did every summer from 99-05.  I miss it so much.

But, you sure as hell can't land a sponsorship deal playing cash games.  Also, the stability of tournament poker (in the sense of schedules, forcing you to put in hours, etc) has been a good thing for me, being the catalyst I had always needed to advance my game.  Otherwise I would have been all too content to simply make a hundred bucks a day and then go sleep in a tent.  I can remember camping many times where Southern Highlands is now.  That's not a very realistic long term plan when I also see family and kids in my future.

Soooo, anyways.   I loved the motorcycle trip.  I'm itching to get out again, and it's only been three months.  I think I've established myself enough so that I can balance the two things and do it well, I'm just going to have to work a bit harder.  Shelley's in.  It's going to be a good year.

I'm starting by skipping PCA.  Screw it.  We had fun last year, but the 2 full days of travel sucked, and spending $8 a beer really pissed me off.  It was so damn expensive there that I couldn't fully enjoy it.  So, instead, this year we're going to Colorado.  We're going to hop from ski town to ski town, hit the slopes, hit some bars, and play online along the way.  I can, it sounds awesome, so I'm going to take advantage of it.

Peace and good luck,



3 months ago
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