Hey guys! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season with family and friends. Mine was fantastic as I spent 9 days at my condo in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. I saw a lot of old friends and spent a bunch of time with my family. My niece Alaina is now 16 months old, and I'm enjoying unclehood much more than I could have ever imagined. I always find myself so happy and relaxed when spending time with family.
Between stints in Birmingham I played some poker tournaments in two incredible cities, Montreal and Prague. I can speak highly of these cities as I've now visited both multiple times. The thing that stands out about Montreal is just how friendly the people are. My previous trips to Prague hadn't convinced me it was worthy of all the praise, but I really fell for the Czech city this time. My friends and I rented an apartment near the city and did a LOT of walking, taking it all in.
Our successful business trip in Prague culminated with the unforgettable experience that was the Magnetic Festival, a one-day electronic dance festival with DJs playing nonstop from 7 pm to 6:30 am. It was a great night with friends celebrating life, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my 2013. When I have alone downtime these days, I'm either reading, watching documentaries, or listening to EDM (Electronic Dance Music). There is something so inspiring about EDM, and I'm thankful I was exposed to it a couple years ago. Through this music genre, I've met so many people who are openminded, optimistic and enthusiastic about life. Everyone shares core values and is on the same page about the fact that kindness makes the world go 'round. I encourage anyone reading to give EDM a chance. My favorite subgenre is 'trance'. I've spent so many nights with my eyes closed listening to trance, thinking about the things I can do to improve my life.
As I write this, I'm in Los Angeles, California visiting some of my best friends in poker: Mike Katz, Adam Geyer, Jesse Yaginuma and Mike Sowers. We've had a lot of fun bringing in the new year. I value every minute I get to spend with these guys. When this crew gets together, we have fun no matter what we do. It's been a great week recounting old stories and creating new ones. Along those lines, I've been making a point to avoid using my cell phone when hanging out with friends and have found that the experience has been exponentially better each time. I'm a big fan of Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now", and it has me focused on bringing myself to the present as often as possible. This seems as good a way as any to start.
On Sunday night I'll venture with friends down to the Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas which plays hosts to the PCA (Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure), one of the biggest poker tournament series each year. I'm excited as always to play some more tournament poker. While we're talking poker, I should brag about a recent honor I received. I was named #7 on the GPI (Global Poker Index) Poker Player of the Decade list that was recently announced. It is one of the highlights of my career, without question, and honestly was very unexpected. I got the news around 3 pm on December 31, making it an extra special New Year's Eve. I'll confess that it really made me feel good to get acknowledged. There are some poker legends on that list, so seeing my name on that list gives some validation to the countless hours I've spent taking care of all the things necessary to make a living as a traveling tournament poker professional. It isn't as easy as it may seem.
All the travel booking, all the missed and delayed flights, all the nights alone in hotels, all the nights sleeping on hotel floors, all the big scores, all the bubbles, all the miracle river cards, all the bad beats, all the nights partying, all the nights reading, all the people from all walks of life, all the cities, all the countries, ALL the experiences. It's been quite the journey. I've loved it. Can't wait for some more.
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Happy New Year,