“No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.” – Chris Hardwick


Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA resort casinos cityscape on the shore at night.

Newark, New Jersey

I have been going through some major changes in my thirtieth year.

My poker game has been augmented by analytics. I used them to develop plays that work against 95%+ of the field. I am quite proud of them.

I was looking forward towards ruthlessly applying them in WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open.

My preparation was excellent. I slept eight hours. I woke up three hours before the tournament. I worked out. I ate steel cut oats and fruit. I drank coffee.

I was so excited to play. My only regret is that it didn’t last long.

I identified a few weak spots at the table. I relentlessly isolated them. In response, they relentlessly flopped pairs on me. Hardly any of my continuation bets worked, and the free river cards I saw never hit me. I would table my big ace or medium pair, and they’d show their expertly raise/called K-9s they played from UTG that turned two pair. I would then dejectedly fold.

I did flop quads once. That was fun.

Unfortunately, that was about all that went right. My aces got run down by a straight, and on the last hand, I lost with J-10 to J-10 on a ten-high board. (Oops).

That said, I have no regrets.

…That is saying quite a bit for me.

I am inconsolable when I play badly. I have broken down doors and thrown chairs in the privacy of many hotel rooms. I’ve been rendered speechless for an entire night. Former significant others complained about my lack of communication in the following days.

This time, I went home, calmly packed my bag, went to the bus station, and got the first Greyhound out of there. I called my girlfriend from a Jersey diner, where I munched on fries and joked with her. I hadn’t a care in the world.

This isn’t normal for me.

But I’ve gotten to the point where I can analyze every single hand I play.

More importantly, over 12+ years I’ve seen every situation thousands of times, if not tens of thousands. I know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve seen the Cardrunners EV analyses, the Flopzilla read-outs, and the database analysis.  I can recall most of them from memory. If a play doesn’t check through all of these filters I’m not doing it.

This ability to keep the “rhythm section” has oddly allowed me to improvise more. I know exactly how ludicrous any particular play is, and what I need my opponent to be doing in order to justify it. This has allowed me to triple barrel more than in the past, and it has helped me check more when I discover a player is at the top of their range.

I am feeling confident in my game these days, and content in my life. I get to do more content creation than ever, which really is my true love. I am blessed to have as many students as I do.

I still struggle with depression and OCD, but my psychiatrist and doctor say I’m in excellent health. My work with a personal trainer has been paying off.

I’ve also come to the realization that I held onto those labels for years because I liked the excuses they provided me. I am not going to live in a spirit of ill health anymore.

I was taking care of my girlfriend the entire week before the event. She got the flu. I told everyone, “I never get sick.”

I never did in Costa Rica. People always complained about it.

But this flu? “Alex, be careful,” my mother told me.

And yet, nothing touched me.

Of course, I get headaches, coughs, and runny noses like everyone on Earth, but I don’t pay attention to them. Sure enough, they go away when I do.

My training is helping so much too. I didn’t hire a personal trainer to get ripped or lose weight, oddly. I wanted more energy and better health, pure and simple.

Now, I’m starting to cut through the belly fat and develop muscle tone. I feel 20 again. I feel infinitely younger at 30 than I did at 25. I felt near death when I was working 60 hours a week and never exercising. The way I feel now is so much more relaxed.

That’s been very important too. When I started dating my girlfriend I told myself, “you know, if you keep up the six days a week of 10-hour shifts, she’s probably going to have a good reason to not stay with you.” I gave myself a two-day weekend for my 29th birthday. It’s been paying huge dividends.

I walked through Atlantic City before I left. I was the only person on the boardwalk. All the casinos were shuttered. The neighborhoods looked like a bomb went off in them. Churches were burned out. Houses were abandoned.

Ten minutes later, in a casino a mile away, I ate kimchee-fused calamari and overlooked the marina.

It was a startling contrast.

It reminded me of where I started. It reminded me of keeping my bankroll in my sock on Casino Road.

Every day I’m trying to be more grateful for how much poker has given me. I literally count my blessings now, out loud. I find it leaves me little time to complain.


  • Sharkeater Braddon

    that sounds just like i am were you was but i always get back up nice one

    • Alex Fitzgerald

      ty sir!!!!

  • Sharkeater Braddon

    i hope i can keep my mind on the grind but too much

    • Alex Fitzgerald