At the dawn of the World Series of Poker, Kristy Gazes lived with us at Scheckytown for four days. She was supposed to stay the entire summer, but she ended up bailing after less than a week for new digs in a swanky condo on the Strip. I couldn't blame her for that, even if only for getting rid of that half-hour commute to the Rio. We instantly got along, though. Two native Angelenos with a penchant for poker and fashion? How could we not?
I learned a lot from watching Kristy this summer. She only played when she wanted to. If she felt tired or a little off, she wouldn't go to the Rio and muck her way through a tournament just because she felt obligated to. Her thriving second career as an options trader paid for that nice house in L.A. and her closet full of Jimmy Choos. Poker paid for some of it too, granted, but if she never picked up two cards again, it's not like it would all go away. She ate well. She worked out. She didn't give a shit what anyone thought about her. She had made the most money and the most consistent money from playing mixed cash games. A lot of Omaha 8 or better and Stud. She still wanted that bracelet badly, but quietly. And I got the feeling that if she did win it, or another major title, she'd kiss off poker forever and buy that ranch in Hawaii she always talked about, spending the rest of her life surfing and riding horses.
Kristy was always drawing to both sides of the pot, and it gave her a better life.
Maybe it was being around Kristy or maybe it was that post Lou Krieger made about online Omaha 8 cash games being poker's newest Lost City of Gold, but something compelled me to start playing some small limit O8 cash games on Full Tilt in the few minutes I would take at the end of each day at the Rio to unwind by the Scheckytown pool. Perhaps it was the late hour I was usually playing at (3 a.m. PDT or so), but it was impossible not to notice how fundamentally bad a lot of these players were. Silly mistakes even a below-average O8 player like myself knew to avoid. I'd also been covering a ton of mixed-games events, and when watching world class players go at it for 12 hours a day, maybe some of that rubs off. Over the course of the WSOP, I turned about $100 on Full Tilt into just over $500. And literally, every time I'd venture away from O8 to play a no-limit SNG, I'd end up cursing NLHE and all its reraising-from-the-blinds every-fuckin'-hand aggrodonks.
Since coming home, the only poker I've played (aside from busting out of Saturdays with Dr. Pauly on the second hand when my top set ran into Derek's flopped Broadway) has been O8 cash games. I went on a nice little heater and almost saw my Full Tilt balance reach four figures only to have the tides recede, leaving behind little of that newfound fortune. That's what I get for playing during those "Limit Happy Hours" Full Tilt throws several times a day and all the grinders show up to four-table it. But I did earn something like 2,000 Full Tilt Points. Only 74,000 more before I can get that flat-screen TV.
Perhaps it's effect of the gentler ebbs and flows of O8 on my fragile constitution rather than the choppy waters of NLHE tourneys. The point here, though is that I've taken Kristy's advice and feel perhaps more at peace with my relationship to poker than I have in quite a while.
Don't play when you don't want to. Don't play just to get unstuck, because you'll only get more stuck. Don't freak out if you lose a rack, because it's going to happen, just like winning a rack. Don't make winning or losing at this game your everything.
And always, always draw to both sides of the pot.