PCA 2013: Balance

January 06, 2013

Poker is all about balance. Be too passive and the aggressive players of the world (and here I mean specifically Vanessa Selbst) will eat you alive. Be too aggressive and people will simply lay back, let you win the small pots, and then crush you when the serious money goes in.

Poker players talk about balance all the time. You’ll hear them saying they’re “balancing ranges” (making it difficult for their opponents to tell whether they’re betting for value or bluffing). In more recent years, you hear many references to “Nash equilibrium1,” a state in which two (or more) players are playing the optimal strategy given that each player knows the other’s strategy.

Of course, that need for balance extends to the meta-issues of being a poker player. If you get no sleep, you can’t play your best poker. If you live on a diet of junk food, it’s unlikely you’ll be as alert as you could be at the table.

Oddly, many poker players who could give you a 20-minute lecture on the Nash equilibrium don’t recognize the equally important meta-issue of life balance. They go without proper sleep and their “range” in diet is polarized between McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

I mention this because I was out for a power walk at the Atlantis this morning. I’m no longer a spring chicken and I can’t get away with burning the candle at both ends, eating lots of fried food, etc. And getting decent exercise is one way that I have to increase my chances of working at the 2018 PCA.

So, in the spirit of “Pictures or it didn’t happen,” here are a few pictures from this morning’s 2.5 mile walk:

Shark 800.jpg
Beach 800 1.jpg
Royal Tower 800.jpg
Waterfall 800.jpg

Now at the beginning of this article, I mentioned that some poker players don’t understand the importance of balancing their life with their poker playing. And you may be saying, “Well, sure – you’re an old guy, you need to do that health and fitness stuff. But truly awesome poker players, they eat McDonald’s, party all night, and then still crush their opponents at the table.”

Perhaps so, but then explain this:

Four exercisers 1 800.jpg

This is me with Elky and Eugene Katchalov, a couple of guys who have won approximately a zillion dollars between them. Just as I was ending my walk this morning, I ran into them. That guy with us, that’s Lincon Rodriguez, their personal trainer. When I first saw them, he had Elky doing sprints down the sidewalk.

ElkY and I had actually talked the day before about the importance of health and fitness to a poker player (he and I have both shed serious weight in the last few years). He said, “It so improves my stamina – as the day wears on, I feel really good, but a lot of players don’t.”

Do with that what you will, but two guys who routinely win all the money were out there this morning working up a massive sweat.

Inspired by those guys, here’s what I had for breakfast:

Breakfast 800.jpg

After all, it’s all about balance.


1: Yes, named after the legendary mathematician John Nash, of “Beautiful Mind” fame.

Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been involved in the professional poker world for over 25 years.

Lee will also be at the PCA presenting a poker seminar, hosting Q&A sessions with PokerStars Team Pros, and answering any questions that our players and guests have. Follow him on Twitter (@leehjones) to get information about what he’s doing at PCA and where you can meet him.


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