People often ask me when "poker season" is over, and it's a fair question, but there really is no off season for a professional poker player unless you choose to create one. The summer World Series of Poker grind is always taxing on both the mind and body, so for me, I generally take the month of August off of poker. In fact, since the WSOP I played poker in a fun little house game for charity and that was it... oh and yes I won the tournament and a grand total of $530 woohoo! Other than that, I haven't played a single hand of poker and I don't plan to until the 50k buy in at EPT Barcelona.
I've been playing this game long enough that I don't feel I need to be constantly practicing to stay in stroke. In fact, sometimes taking a break from the game is exactly what the doctor ordered. I'm currently in contention for a lot of prestigious awards thanks to a decent year, and this month off, I believe, will help me be fresh and focused for the stretch run.
So while I haven't been playing any poker this month, I have been productive with my time in attaining some personal goals--three to be exact.
Do 10 pull-ups in 3 months--I have been working out with a trainer and one of my goals is to be able to do 10 pull-ups by the end of October. I set benchmark goals of 3 by August 31st, 6 by September 31st, and 10 by the end of it. In my lifetime the most pull-ups I've ever done is 4! Nothing to brag about, but I am on track for this goal as I can do 3 right now.
Improve my Spanish and French speaking skills--I have been using Rosetta Stone daily and the first 6 weeks I'll be focusing on Spanish, then switching to French for the last 6 weeks. I am competent in both, and while it's really not necessary to speak the native tongue when traveling Europe, I think it's respectful to make an effort. English speakers have it pretty good when traveling the globe, but personally I think it's rude to assume that in Barcelona or Paris the locals should feel forced to speak English on my behalf. I'm the visitor, I should be the one making the best effort possible to assimilate to their language and culture.
Read 5 books in 3 months--For some of you this may seem like an easy task, but it's a stretch for me. I've already completed my first book, Soul of Money by Lynne Twist and am currently reading The 8th Habit. Next up on my list are:
I always feel like a better person when I'm reading regularly, and this schedule isn't too rigorous. It essentially boils down to about 15-20 pages a day.
To help ensure that I stay on track with my three goals, I also check in with my buddy Laura from Winnipeg, as she also set three goals for herself over the next three months, and I've found that it's extremely valuable to have someone to keep you accountable. Each week we send each other ourpersonal strategic plan , and then we do a call on Monday and Friday to discuss where we are with our goals.
One of the most difficult aspects of traveling the world to play poker is maintaining a healthy routine. On tournament days it's tough to get much of anything done away from the table, and jet lag can often play a role in being a bit lazy! Thanks to my PSP and my accountability partner, I'm confident that I'll be able to stay on track with my personal goals.
Once I've achieved them, I'll reassess what I want to do next and take it from there! I find it's a really fun way to goal set and if goal setting is something you have struggled with, I recommend giving this method a try.
Daniel Negreanu is a member of Team PokerStars Pro