Friday, July 29, 2011

Maximizing ev, Maximizing Life

As I sit here and write this, I have tears flowing down the side of my face. I've encountered the toughest obstacle I've faced in my life up to this point. I guess I can be grateful that it took so long (38 years). The news was grim today as doctors told us my dad has 6 to 12 months left to live.

Shortly after the Wsop main event we found out my dad has stomach and liver cancer but did not know the severity of it until he had a biopsy done. The last couple of weeks were filled with fear and sadness due to uncertainty of my dad's official condition, yet clinging unto hope that the doctors would come back with news that somehow it's treatable and he would be able to beat it.

Well that hope is almost dashed out with today's news. I guess I'm trying to hope somehow someway my dad has a chance, any kind of chance, even though doctors are telling us there isn't. It's not just for me, heck I cry for my dad, I cry for my mom who has relied on my dad her entire adult life, I cry for my wife who is probably closer to my parents than me and sees my dad as her own, and I cry for my only daughter, 10 years old, who loves her grandfather like any child can. When I spoke to my dad after finding out he had cancer, he said he's at peace of living a long and fulfilling life of 69 years (maybe he was telling me this to ease my fear and sadness) but would like to have watched Nicole grow up and get married. I shed many tears thinking of that and will continue to do so.

I've been busy the last few weeks with the Wsop, a new start up poker venture, and dealing with my dad's health so I haven't had the chance to blog in awhile. Yet I feel like this is a good time to reflect on my emotions and express the thoughts I'm having. Yes I am forthcoming with my emotions but you can't blame me.

Knowing my dad's days are limited, I don't want to dwell on the negatives, I want to dwell on the positives. It's easy to curl up and go into a shell for awhile but what good will that do? I am a person of faith and I believe God has a purpose for everything. For those that follow me on twitter I said I believe in prayer and would welcome all those that wanted to do so for us. It is partially faith and partially self therapy that I write what I'm writing.

I comfort in the fact that my brother and I grew up to be good genuine honest people, and I give my parents all the credit for this. My dad knows this inside, even if he won't say it.

I got into poker full time 13 years ago and for a profession that had a certain type of stigma attached to it (over the years it's become a lot more acceptable and respectable) I managed to not only support myself well, but supported my wife and kid well. More importantly it didn't change me into a bad person, not one ounce. If anything it taught me how to manage money, how to work hard at something (and reap the rewards), and it gave a wonderful life to my family and me. My dad helped me in an indirect way by making me become the man I can be. And this I take comfort in.

Sure my parents were skeptical when I told them I was playing poker for a living in the beginning. After all, who's parents wouldn't, especially if they were religious, and especially if their son was already married with a newborn baby. It wasn't until a couple of years later they saw how well I was doing but more importantly how well I was taking care of my family, and not just from a financial perspective, and they started to come around. Eventually they became proud of their oldest son. They are proud of my brother also for other reasons. And this I take comfort in.

In poker we are ingrained with knowledge to seek and maximize ev. That's it. That will determine success. For a few that's all life is about. If that's you you are not living life. If that brings you utter and complete joy then perhaps you can argue you are living life, but you are not living a balanced life, which by all intents and purposes, is unhealthy. Also partying and drinking (or smoking pot) is not part of balancing life.

One thing I've prided myself in is living this balanced life, which almost to a degree seems like a myth for professional poker players. Even though I've lived this life I've made mistakes, I've been guilty of doing less desirable things, and I have regret of doing some things and not doing some things (nothing serious though).

With the news that my dad will no longer be with us within a year, I seek to change my life for the better. What I mean is that I want to live a life with meaning, with knowing that I went all out, with no regrets and that I gave myself the best possible life I could while doing everything I could to provide the best lives for those around me.

It'll be little things, medium things, and big things. Things like working out regularly, eating healthy (because God knows I haven't living in Vegas), attending church more often, spending more time with my kid, showing more affection for my wife, working harder in everything, cutting down my play time (eg video games and lurking 2+2), showing appreciation for those that deserve it, showing appreciation for the little things in life, and on and on.

I aspire big, not for others to see, but for myself to see. Sure it took a moving and sad moment in my life to drive me in this new direction, but again, I want to see the positives with today's news.

For those that read this, I challenge you to do likewise. I don't mean the things I mentioned for myself although they can certainly include them. Everybody has their own goals and things they'd like to achieve. Go achieve them. Start today. If you fall down, get right back up and keep going. Don't abuse anything (especially people) while doing so. Don't wait for a life changing moment to give you this epiphany (like me). Learn from me now.

Sure it's easy to say I'm realizing this in the face of mortality given my dad's condition. So what. I am right. The world would be a better place if we all aspired and sought action to maximize our lives and for others around us. In other words, live life to the fullest...don't think it, do it, just like I am doing from this point on.

All this I will tell my dad, and I'm sure it will bring a smile to his face. And this he will take comfort in.


  1. Condolences about your dad John. Beautiful post. We're all blinded by life at times, and we don't always see how finite it truly is. It's sad but a tragedy can really give us perspective, and it's nice to see your dad continues to make you a better person in his unfortunate circumstance.

  2. Best wishes John. Experienced something very similar several years ago. You're approaching it the right way.

  3. Sorry to hear the news. But glad to hear you are turning this into a positive. A lot of people would be just wallow in despair, when that they should be doing is making the most of every day. Our thoughts go out to you and your family.

  4. Hey I'm sorry to hear that, will pray for you and your dad and your family...

  5. Thanks guys, I appreciate all the nice words and thoughts.

  6. Condolences, I wish you and your family the best. There are plenty of sad moments in life, and it's refreshing to see that you are trying to make light of this. It speaks volumes about our character on how we respond when faced with challenges.

  7. I'm sorry John...but as long as you have faith in God, you can overcome pretty much anything.

    If you dont mind me asking, was your dad a healthy person, throughout his life?

  8. John,

    Sorry to read this. I hope you and your family can find peace TOGETHER over the next 6-12 months. If you want a good cry listen to Just Breathe by Pearl Jam.

  9. Thanks guys.

    Yes my dad was a healthy person, gave up smoking 20 years ago and lived a healthy lifestyle since.