Eat, sleep, poker used to be the default mode of operation for a giant percentage of poker players. We used to glorify degen lifestyle, a 24+ hour poker session was considered a standard affair and the opinion that poker should consume the vast majority of our waking hours was practically a given. Fortunately, nowadays the image of a degenerate poker player is largely a romantic anachronism.
With the advent of the mental game, players realized that going all out all the time is not a sustainable strategy in the long run. A healthy poker-life balance is absolutely essential. Poker shouldn't be the end all be all. Nevertheless, some players still have a tendency to overdo it when it comes to playing poker and in this article, we'll talk about some telltale signs that might suggest you are one of them.
Poker Related Injuries
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you're playing so much poker that your body can't handle it you're probably playing too much of it. If you have a carpal/ulnar tunnel syndrome caused by hours and hours on end of keeping your hand on a computer mouse in a compromised position, or if you suffer chronic back and neck pains, you might want to cut back on your playing hours.
You Use "+EV/-EV" In Non-Poker Conversations
The fact that poker can be a great tool when it comes to improving our understanding of how the world works is often taken for granted. Poker players quickly learn to recognize the power that variance holds over our lives. We also learn to utilize the amazing power of expected value equation. That said while using EV to optimize our life choices can indeed be very advantageous, not everything in life will fit neatly into that equation.
If you ever thought about your relationship in expected value terms or you've used it as an argument in a conversation with a loved one, you might want to reevaluate the role that poker plays in your life.
People Call You By Your Screen Name
You can't remember the last time you've heard the sound of your own name coming from your friend's mouth? Everyone, you know uses your poker nickname when addressing you? That's another reason why you might consider cutting back on your poker playing hours.
You Often Find Yourself Daydreaming About Playing On High Stakes Poker
You know exactly which choice would you make with the fourth pair if you switched places with Phil Ivey when he faced the epic triple barrel bluff by Tom Dwan. You dreamt about folding the full house that Daniel Negreanu crushed into Gus Hansen's quads. In your mind, you were the one who started the poker boom with the WSOP Main Event win and not Chris Moneymaker. Guess what, you should probably find another subject to daydream about.
You've Played Poker For 24+ Hours Straight
It's not 2011 anymore! Nowadays, even diehard degens of ol' like Lex Veldhuis are all about that healthy, consistent and manageable poker schedule. You're not doing anyone any favors by playing those obnoxiously long poker sessions. It's unsustainable, suboptimal and you should definitely cut back!
Poker Results Affect Your Mood
If your friends and family know exactly whether you're on a downswing or an upswing you should take a closer look at your mental game. The variance in poker is much more severe than in most other walks of life and therefore many players - even the more experienced ones - find it difficult to handle the volatile nature of the game.
It's hard to act like everything is hunky-dory when you're in the middle of crazy long break-even stretch, but if your results at the tables start negatively affecting your loved ones you might want to consider a small shift in your priorities.
Your Favorite Stories Are Bad Beat Stories
No one wants to hear another bad beat story. Unless your bad beat resulted in winning a huge jackpot there's no reason to tell anyone about it. The only people who feel that sharing detailed reports of their misfortunes at a card table are either extremely inexperienced, or they play so much poker that they don't have anything else to talk about.
If you're an example of the latter sort of player you should reduce the number of hours you spend at a poker table and spare your friends the torture of hearing another "epic tale" of aces cracked by an offsuit two-gapper.