The WSOP is just 20 days away. This excites me. This will be my seventh full year at the WSOP, but it still never fails to get my juices flowing.
By my count, I have played 113 WSOP (Las Vegas) events, collecting 17 cashes, 4 final tables, and zero bracelets. It's an unspectacular record, but a solid one, and the number at the bottom of my spreadsheet says that coming to the WSOP has been good for the bankroll.
But it's for far more than any financial reward that the WSOP is my favourite time of year. It's summer camp not just for the pros who play it, but also the recreational players, employees, media, and anyone connected to the poker world. It's the time of year where almost the entire poker world descends upon just one town; when you never eat dinner alone and you can pretty much always find someone to do whatever it is you want to do in that very instant. Whether it's to rail a final table, celebrate a bracelet, or commiserate over a bad beat, it's about the people.
But for me, the upcoming WSOP feels a little bit different. Within my closest circle of friends -- the guys who comprise what is often referred to as the "Math of Poker House" -- there is some feeling that the band is breaking up. At least one person has expressed the idea that this will be his last full WSOP. Another of our group is working on a new startup and will skip the main event (gasp!). Yet another will be foregoing the tournaments entirely, only dropping in on occasion to play cash games. And I find myself questioning my motivation to play poker for a living more and more these days. I've been in the game a long time now, and it's getting hard to compete with the young lions who are passionate about grinding the long hours and putting in their work. If you follow this blog at all, you know that the passion for the game that made me into a strong poker player has been diverted towards the goal of making myself the best mixed martial artist I can be.
But if 2012 truly is the last hurrah, then I'm determined to go out with a bang, not a whimper. I've still got some swagger when it comes to poker, and I still think I'm pretty darn good, even if the competition has gotten tough too. I know I don't have much control over my results over the space of a couple dozen tournaments; no one does. But I have full control over how well I play in them. My goal is to say that from Event 2 to the time I bust out of the main event, I played well in every tournament and gave myself the best shot to win each one. Whether it's the last kick at the can or not, I think I owe myself that.