Thursday, October 30, 2008

Special Post - Welcome to My Final Table

OK, so the final table for the 2008 World Series of Poker is now set, which will take place on November 9 and which ESPN will telecast on November 11. All nine players are guaranteed $1 Million (OK, the first guy out gets "only" $900K, but that's splitting hairs as everyone else gets more than $1.2M with the winner getting $9M).

The battle has been grueling and minefields abundant as players have had to battle lost sleep and lapses in concentration resulting from the constant stress of having to make decision after decision as thousands of hands are played -- not to mention bad beats from 2% probability river drownings.

And yes, those left standing have also been lucky. They've escaped jams, sometimes as the result of their skill, but often as a result of simply being in the right place at the right time.

Sound familiar?

Those that have been following this blog know what's next, and I'll apologize up front for what may seem like an overdone analogy. Yet I can't help it as it's extremely relevant and timely as we get ready to enter the "final table" of November and December. Plus, this remains my diary so anything goes.

You see, for some reason I've been put in a position similar to those who will battle it out on November 9. On Monday, I'll be entering my version of this year's 2008 "final table" essentially playing with the house's money.

Yes, I've been on a mission this year. For the first time in my trading career, I decided to suck it up big-time for 366 days and make sacrifice after sacrifice to push myself harder than I ever had. In doing so, I sacrificed hundreds of hours of sleep, plenty of personal time, non-trading business income, and some of my sanity ... not to mention the 7th-9th innings of the second greatest baseball playoff comeback ever. The goal was simple -- personal peak performance.

If you're new to this blog, my July 26 post helps set the stage and discusses my initial $1 Million mission and goals. A later post on September 23 then raised the bar by another $250K. Both objectives have been accomplished and now it's on to the final table on a complete free-roll with house money. Yet like the WSOP, the game isn't over yet.

Of all the players at this year's WSOP final table, I can most relate to Dennis Phillips, who will be the oldest player at the table at 53 ... just six years older than me. And yes, I'm rooting for him to prove there's something to be said for decades of life experience. Yet my favorite player (not at the final table) remains Barry Greenstein, whose silent stealth play over his career has put him in a financial and psychological position to donate his time and funds to greater causes. And I can also relate to Michael Mizrachi ... a fellow "grinder", albeit in a different industry.

btw, I recognize that the poker-trading comparisons are better suited to cash poker games versus tournaments where one is "forced" to play due to increasing forced bets and luck plays a larger factor.

I'm well aware of the landmines. The story of Archie Karas will always serve as a reminder. And as this year's televised WSOP hands have again validated, it only takes a single mental slip to undue thousands of hands of a well-played game ... and to hand the entire chip stack over to someone else. I need to remain aware of both of those lessons before I can close the book on this year's tournament on December 31.

Tomorrow night, we'll take a final peek at October results -- which will of course mean nothing when the new dealer shows up in November. And I anticipate the next two months will be among the toughest trading months of my career, and will be on the defensive much of the time. One reason is that the rhythm of the last few months -- now that we've grown accustomed to it -- will likely change yet again.

So the goal at this end is now fairly simple -- incremental gains balanced with chip protection. I won't raise the bar again or risk ten months of sweat and hard work. For unlike the WSOP, I get to keep whatever chips I have on December 31.

But it should be fun.

Welcome to my final table.


Anonymous said...

Hey Don:

I am cheering for you. I have first row seats at this tournament. Play tight and aggressive!!!!


Anonymous said...

Don -

I feel privileged just to be able to "peek over your shoulder" while you play. The insights you share are invaluable and I appreciate the time you take to post. Good luck and stay focused!

KN said...

Donald thank you,

It might sound dramatic but this blog saved me, this is like a beacon in the ocean, something to aspire to.

Bring it on I am also looking forward to the last two months of this year, I am also pushing my chips in the middle with a middle pair and hope that I hit the trip on the flop...

Thanks again

YM-Trader said...

“on a mission”, “suck it up’, “sacrifice”...what a great description for accomplishing a worthwhile goal. I like the concept of being a trading athlete. Eating right, working out, just so I can sit in a comfy chair for 6 or more hours a day and not get brain lazy. Exercising our brain is as important as the rest of our body. Pushing, focusing, not giving into excuses. Building those synapses. Man it’s sure not easy. What’s Alzheimer’s? There’s no time for it. Way to go Don.

Don Miller said...

Thanks guys.

You're all welcome to "sit" alongside me ... even if on just a virtual basis.

kn - Wow ... not sure what to say, although you might want to wait to see if the flop gives you trips before betting the whole stack :-).

Chuck - I'll be the worst patient ever if I even get stricken with something like that. Hopefully, I'll dodge those landmines as well, but we're all of course human.