Christmas 2017

“Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them.”

– Jim Carrey

New York - DECEMBER 20, 2013: Christmas Tree at Rockefeller center on December 20 in USA, New York. Christmas Tree at Rockefeller center is the most famous christmas tree in USA

Queens, New York

I’ve been developing that gear.

When I am not teaching, I am recording a class. When I am not recording a class, I am in the weight room. When I’m not in the weight room, I am reading a book on analytics, looking for further clues on how to open poker up.

“Everyone has that special something within them that can make them a champion. The question is, ‘can you access it?'” – Sugar Ray Leonard

It’s Christmas day, 2017. My girlfriend is working in her kickboxing studio. I spent the morning having coffee at my favorite spot in Long Island City. New York doesn’t stop for anyone.

…and that’s what I want at this time in my life.

I haven’t blogged for a time because I have been enjoying the flow of life.

I’m done complaining about how expensive everything is. I’m going to develop that gear, and pay for all of it.

I’m done complaining about how much work I always have. I’m going to be grateful my services are in demand, develop that gear, and do the work.

I’ve been working 50+ hours a week from Monday to Friday. I see my girlfriend from Friday night to Monday morning, and then I’m off again.

The hours we have together are so important. I hate to think of where I’d be without her. I’ve never met a more motivating woman.

We both had jobs that paid us more in the past, but we’ve decided to be teachers now. When we get together, oftentimes our conversations drift to talks about our work. We genuinely enjoy the process of motivating others to better their lives.

In our free time, we watch documentaries. We always drift to ones on sports. We like to stories of men and women achieving something seemingly unthinkable.

We latch onto these people. We’re inspired by them. It seems we’re both hungry to better ourselves. I love being around that.

We don’t go full on Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, however. We still eat Swedish fish and watch anime and goof off with each other. But there’s been a subtle shift in my life towards going the distance. I feel much better with this focus.

I get tired. There’s no doubt about that. I rarely take time off. It’s hard for me to do so.

I’ve created an opening. I don’t want to let it go. I’m on the cusp of achieving the life I really want, and I don’t want it to slip away.

I used to bemoan my responsibilities. Now I’m grateful for them. Taking care of my mother got my mind in the zone. On a thousand nights, I debated long into the morning hours how to make enough to pay for her groceries and my rent. The pressure made me clever. It gave me practice in tense situations.

Now I’ve opened up a door, and as per usual, I am afraid to walk through it.

I want to get to the point where I can really pick and choose my private lessons. I love teaching one-on-one, but you can’t scale it. I get many new ideas from the process, but I’d like to stick with the students who are really rewarding.

I miss the days when I was a professional poker player because everything was on my terms. I don’t miss the financial stress. I don’t miss the instability. But I do miss having complete control over my days.

That’s not the case right now. I have to do a number of private lessons to pay my bills. That’s fine, but it creates a trap. You have to do private lessons all day to pay your bills, and because you can’t scale it you will always have to do private lessons all day to pay your bills.

Splitsuit gave me a shot to do a free webinar, and I nailed it. I spent an entire day creating it. I wrote a script. I delivered the material with passion.

My sales experienced a decent uptick after that presentation. It cleared the way for me in January. I already have my rent and personal training paid for. It helped me pay for my Christmas presents.

I haven’t picked up a new student in a long time. I think I’ve added three in the past month or so.

I have a month to make something new work. I have a month to try my new ideas out.

I’m tired, but I put myself in this situation, so I am not going to complain.

At this point in the blog, I’ve stopped typing at my normally manic pace. I’m stunned into silence.

How do you tell someone that two years ago you owned multiple businesses, a house, a car, and a retirement fund, but at this point, you have debt in an apartment in Newark…and you’re happy about it? You feel like you’re in the right place?

Before, I was stagnating as a poker player. I had no motivation to play. My ideas were not developing. I didn’t know where to look.

It wasn’t till I read the book Moneyball that I realized where the next development would be in poker. Now, I’ve ruthlessly pursued that, and I am convinced it has given me a large edge on the field.

Yeah, I’m tired. Who isn’t? That’s why I spend money on personal training. It’s not for the muscles or the weight loss. It’s for the discipline. It’s for the energy. It’s to process stress differently.

I watched a documentary recently about Jim Carrey. What I saw was a man who developed another gear to get away from homelessness. I saw a man who accessed the darker part within himself to become an entertainer. I saw a man who pushed himself too far.

It was frightening to see where he finished. Many people would have seen his method acting on the Man on the Moon set as extreme. I have always found method actors (or actors in general) to be pretentious hacks but watching him work made me get it. He pushed everybody into an absurd performance of themselves, much in the way Kaufman would have appreciated. I was transfixed.

What saddened me was that Jim Carrey didn’t seem to realize the real reward of his work was the art and the very process of creating that art.

I don’t regret my marriage that ended in divorce. I don’t regret the decade I spent out of the country. I don’t regret any of it because I see people like Jim Carrey who learned the lesson too late: Money and success do not equal happiness.

It sure as hell doesn’t hurt, but he was looking for redemption in his work. There is no earthly redemption. Human approval is a fickle thing.

Your own approval or disapproval of yourself is all that’s there permanently.

I couldn’t figure out why when I had money and a huge house I wasn’t happy.

It’s because I didn’t do it for the money. I was bored stupid in high school because it seemed like I was being trained to work for others. I would have rather starved doing something real. And eventually, I did.

I couldn’t believe we were expected to spend 22+ years of our life in school out of a final 75. That’s nearly one year in three spent in a classroom. And for what? To learn to sit at attention at the sound of a bell? To discuss social issues without actually doing anything about it?

When I moved to Casino Road, Everett I loved it. Down the street, there was a game at any time. Down the street, there was a track I could always run on.

I fell in love with the process. It was never about the money. It was about having command over my life. It was about listening to metal, doing push-ups, running miles, grinding it out till late in the night, then walking to the gas station to get a Bawls energy drink while going over the hands with my boys.

I forgot that once I had the money. I don’t blame my ex-wife at all for the divorce. I wasn’t an attractive man anymore. I lost the fire that made me who I am. I got fat and angry.

I wish it didn’t come to everything falling apart, but it was the best thing for me. Running the streets again at night cleared my senses. Lifting weights brought 50 pounds off. My mind began to focus again.

I’m addicted to the process again. This is the third week in a row that I’ve worked out four days out of seven. I can put in more hours than ever before.

I see where this is going, and I like it.

I’m going to make it in New York.

I want championships now. That is a new thing to me. I never wanted them before. I didn’t believe I could win. I played poker because it was my job, but I was so internally defeated. I let horrible people run my life for so long. I’d lost respect for myself. I couldn’t believe that man would win anything.

That hatred for myself served a purpose. It put my mind in the zone. It helped me find those long runs into San Jose by the train tracks. It helped me wake up at 7:00 AM in Newark to get to the gym. It got me there.

Now, I respect who I am.

I want championships, but I don’t need them. It’s about the process. It’s my own reward to still be pursuing something I love 12 years in. It’s my own reward to have not washed out of one of the most competitive industries in the world. It’s my own reward to have kept expanding my game.

If and when I have money again I’m saving all of it. I’m giving away large chunks to charity. I never needed it to begin with.

I don’t spend my money on anything. I play video games, read library books, go to concerts, buy $14.00 hockey tickets on Stubhub, and take my girl out. That’s about it.

I’m not a car guy. I’m not a, “look at my big fancy apartment” guy. I don’t go out. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke pot. New York is too intense to add anything else. I like having my faculties about me here.

The only thing I could ever see me spending serious money on is personal training. I’m hungry for more.

The money is secondary now because what I really want is the hustle. I love this game. I don’t mean just poker. I mean New York. I mean dating a gorgeous girl who could probably kick my ass in the craziest city on Earth. I mean the tour stops. I mean the classes with 1,000 attendants. I mean the contracts and the videos and the books and the podcasts. I mean the hours spent in front of database managers trying to extrapolate a new concept someone doesn’t have yet. I mean looking through the emails for solid counterpoints to my publicly posited theories.

Everybody’s got stress. But who has that gear? Who can push it into that zone? Who can get to work when the time is right?

I’ve been feeling so different. I don’t want to let this go.

This is all I want. I don’t care about the money. I missed this. I missed the hunger. I missed feeling on top of my game. I missed the days I could look across the felt and know I could kill you. I missed the intensity. I missed the game. My God, did I miss the game.

I’ve been called crazy before, and I’ll be called crazy again. And I’ll still always take it as a compliment. Because average doesn’t get you anything in this world.

I don’t want a carefree existence. That’s what children want on Christmas day. They want toys that will take them away to a fantasy land.

I’m going to be 30 next month. I don’t want toys. I don’t want an escape. I want to be a man. And men have one job. That’s to be quite literal gentle men.

As a gentleman, you are a provider for your family. You are bloodthirsty on the battlefield, and a giggling mess cooking for your girl.

You have mastered yourself when you reach this level.

I’m tired of worrying about things. I’m just going to do it. I’m just going to find that place where I consistently deliver.

I thank God every day my childhood and poverty gave me so much practice in do-or-die situations. I’m present now. I’m feeling it.

I want this now. I want the late nights writing and nine empty coffee cups. I want the finished book in my hands. I want the pressure again from the nationally televised final tables. I want the sweet release every morning from lifting. I want to elevate my mind through hard work. Everything else is secondary.

***

  • Todd Piotrowski

    Right on!
    I have never had less than I do right now, and I have never been happier.
    Champions love to fall so they can enjoy the process and the pain of rising back to the top.

    • Alex Fitzgerald

      Facts! Glad to hear one person doesn’t think I am insane

  • http://adrian.pletosu.com/ Adrian Pletosu

    What did I tell you years ago? Remember The Name – the song that always reminds me of you. All about the percentages :) I’ll see you in New York one day – I still haven’t seen that city and it’s on my list 😉

    • Alex Fitzgerald

      That’s one of my favorite songs of all time, and I’m honored you think of me when it comes on :) And yes, I demand you come to New York! Lol. Would love to show you around 😀

  • jorge pajares gamarra

    “I want the late nights writing and nine empty coffee cups. I want the finished book in my hands”
    Esto describe muy bien lo que deseo cuando llegue a $30s, actualmente juego backeado en los Spin de $7s en Stars.
    Muchas gracias hermano!!! Leerte me permite no perder el enfoque de lo que quiero y centrarme en el proceso. día a día. trabajo,esposa e hija,poker, dormir 6h, repetir.

    • Alex Fitzgerald

      Con gusto hermano. Bueno suerte!!!!