The Zen Art of Balancing Life by Simrit Tiwana
Poker player and freelance writer from Delhi, I started playing poker ten years ago when a friend introduced me to the game. My first memory of poker goes back even further than that. I remember watching tournaments that were telecast on ESPN back when cable television was first launched in India (I must have been nine or ten years old). Fascinated at first sight, I used to make my Dad explain the rules of the game to me repeatedly though I must admit I don’t think I could quite understand what was going on back then.
Coming back to when I first started playing, it was all fun and games, and for the first year or two and needless to say, I was not very good to start with. We call those initial losses the beginner’s price in poker, almost like a fee you pay to learn the game. What I did realise I had was a natural aptitude for the game. So I decided to learn. I watched poker videos, read books and most importantly discussed my hands with better players and listened while they analysed their play. One rule that I follow that I think applies to poker as well as anything in life, never think you know it all, always be ready to learn, and be prepared to work as hard as it takes to get there.
Well, mine was a pretty happy journey. Once I started getting the hang of the game, understanding that it was not about luck and completely dependent on your skill, I began to do well. There were a few ups and downs along the way, but I took every bad run as a learning experience, learnt to be patient with short-term outcomes, developed my own set of rules when it came to managing my gameplay and bankroll and stuck by them.
My key philosophy in life is a balance, one that I like to apply to my daily life as well as my poker game. I know poker players have a reputation of being larger than life people who live wild and erratic lifestyles, but according to me you need to be in a good frame of mind to play your optimal game, and a healthy lifestyle is conducive of that. My daily practice of Buddhist chanting has helped to bring this very balance into my life. I also like to make sure I get to bed on time, do yoga in the mornings, eat healthily and spend a couple of hours every day working on my writing content work, giving it the right amount of time and focused energy, it requires and deserves. I love watching good television and reading, so I make sure I make time in my life for those things as well.
One of my most memorable hands happened in Goa. I had triple straddled in hand, and the person on my left was on quadruple straddle when I looked down on pocket aces. Somewhere right after UTG (don’t remember the exact position, but it was a nine-handed cash game) a player raised, and four players called him. I could sense the player on quadruple straddle getting restless, and I realised there was a high chance he was going to raise (if you are reading this I’m sure you remember this hand clearly!). As we are playing a super deep stack game, I decided to flat call with just one more player left to go, and sure enough, he raised just as I had expected. By the time the hand got back to me, the pot was HUUUUUGE. Someone had already four-bet him with tens, and all I had to do was five-bet shove my stack with Aces and pick up a pretty solid pot. What I liked about this hand was not the fact that I got Aces (anyone in the world can get those dealt to them) but that I went against conventional play, read the situation and acted by following my instincts in the particular hand, and it paid off, something that is an extremely important part of the game.
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