I'm not necessarily one for New Year's "resolutions." People tend to make grand declarations with good intentions and then fall off the wagon by February 1, and I want to avoid that trap. Setting goals, however, seems different to me somehow; less absolute. I can go into the year, reflect on the year that's passed, and set objectives about the upcoming year. It also helps that I attend the first tournament series of the year at PCA, and every reporter I talk to asks me about my goals for the year. Lest I stammer a series of uhhs and umms for several minutes, it's best to go ahead and think my goals through ahead of time. Here are my goals for 2014:
I go into every year hoping to make three major final tables and to play the best poker I can. Luckily, I've kicked off the year right by final tabling the PCA Super High Roller and High Roller, so only one to go! I'd really like to win an EPT Main Event. There's nothing quite like playing for four or five days and making a final table--it's such a feeling of accomplishment. I've final tabled EPT High Rollers, but never a Main Event. The fields in Europe are so massive and tough that it would be quite a feat to become an EPT winner (after that: a Triple Crown).
A question asked of me in interviews is "What lesson did you learn last year?" or "What was your poker 'fail' of the year?" I had great success last year-it was the second highest winning year of my career-but what people might not realize is that I also had great failures. My year was a series of lulls (entire tournament series without a single cash, an entire WSOP with only one small cash) punctuated by huge final tables. I attribute some of that inconsistency, particularly during WSOP, to the fact that I put too much pressure on myself to play every event. I've learned this lesson over and over--if I play when I don't want to play then I won't play well.--and I want to try harder to remember this year, to make it a precept of my career. I play best when I'm living a balanced life. When I'm spending quality time with friends, attending family celebrations, petting my dogs, enjoying being married, staying active, and making sure that my mind is thinking about and working on more than just poker. It's not enough to show up; my head has to be in the game. When I'm well rested and I've decompressed, I play my best poker.
This fall, I worked pretty intensively to get an idea off the ground regarding my non-profit, Venture Justice. I've connected with some really awesome organizations that are working for accountability for police misconduct and abuse of authority. During my down time from poker, I basically spent every waking minute designing prototypes for web pages, thinking about apps, interviewing developers, and meeting with community organizations. It's a project I'm really excited about, but I've determined that I can't handle a second full time job on top of the full time job that is playing poker professionally. By the end of the year, I want to find and hire a dedicated, smart, social justice-oriented person to oversee day-to-day operations and get the project up and running (or at least further along in the development stages).
I'm really bad at regularly using social media. This means not only am I not communicating important poker stuff via Twitter, but I'm also dropping the ball on my personal Facebook page. I don't know whose birthday it is, I missed the pictures of my friends' new puppy, and I didn't see that so-and-so got engaged. Likewise, they don't know anything about my life unless Miranda posts it. I've vowed to post more regularly this year, and have so far posted a very cute photo of my dogs taking a bath, a funny video about monkeys, and a new profile picture. I haven't posted anything in a week, though, so I have to get back on my game.
I've been told I often look angry or perturbed. I'm usually not (despite what the media would have you believe), but sometimes I'm off in my own world, so I don't notice people saying hello to me. It sounds cheesy, but I really want to make a conscious effort to smile more so that my outside matches my inside.
So what's next? Taking some time off and lounging around home and then going on my honeymoon in early February. After that, you can find me at LAPC, smiling and playing mindful poker. Of course, you don't have to remember this, because I promise to announce it on Twitter.
Vanessa Selbst is a member of Team PokerStars Pro