Brian Rast: Balance in your life will help you get you success in the long run

Think of a poker player and you don’t immediately picture a happy family behind him. WSOP bracelet winner Brian Rast argues that it’s possible and desirable

So, you play poker and you fell in love. Now you want to get married (or maybe you already are), but you’re worried about how to make it work with your unorthodox lifestyle? It’s well worth making the effort. I’ve come to learn how important balance is in my life, in order to maintain success over the long-term, and nothing has helped me to achieve this more than my wife.

As a prerequisite, it’s important that your partner believes in you. They don’t have to understand poker (at this point in time, my wife, Juliana, doesn’t really even know how to play), but they do have to believe that:

  1. Poker is a game that you can win at over the long-run
  2. That you are a good and dedicated enough player to win

If you don’t have this baseline, than it’s hard for me to believe you can make that relationship work.

Now, let’s say your partner believes in you…Great! How do you go about making sure you don’t lose her? There are definitely challenges involved in being with a poker player. First, you don’t have a stable income. Sometimes it rains and pours, other times there’s a drought. Second, especially if you play tournaments, you likely travel a lot.

To combat the wave-like nature of your income, a few things are key: planning ahead, communication and self-control. It’s crucial that your partner understands the cyclic nature of poker, and that you discuss ahead of time what your plan is for the good times and the bad. This requires honesty and plenty of communication. So don’t be afraid to talk! And, the ball is in your court in order to maintain a level head and control your gambling urges. For some people, this might be very easy – but for others, very difficult. It can be tough on the ego to step down in stakes if you’re on a losing streak, or to analyze yourself properly and realize that a certain spot or game isn’t +EV for you. It can be tough to be critical of yourself, identify your leaks, and turn off those faucets (casino games, sports betting, playing too long when you’re tired, quitting good games to book wins, etc…). You have to remember, now, that your responsibilities extend beyond yourself.

Give it back…

One of the ways I have dealt with the traveling issue is to extend an open invitation for my wife to travel with me, but that’s not realistic for most players and in Juliana’s case, she’s often busy with other responsibilities (including caring for our son). So, in the cases where I’m away without her, I have learned that a bit of daily attention can help. Women are like flowers, in this regard: a little water every day goes a long way. If you leave a few daily reminders that you’re thinking about them you’ll find time away passes much more pleasantly.

A few ideas: leave Skype video messages (go to YouTube, find a karaoke video of an appropriate song, you can figure out the rest!), send Facebook messages, write a short poem, have flowers delivered, set up times to Skype, hide presents for them to find while you’re gone, send an occasional text, that sort of thing. Just let your partner know you miss them!  They’ll love it when you focus that amazing, creative, analytical mind that you use to win at cards on them.

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