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Who is Stoic Poker Dave?

Hello everyone, I am (for the purposes of social media) Stoic Poker Dave. I did NOT choose that name because I am a stoic sage. I chose that name because it is the two main areas in life I am actively trying to improve. I have a very long way to go with both, but I am working on both in my daily life.

This blog and whatever comes after it will be a documentation of my attempt to get better at poker while also trying to develop stoic reactions to disturbances, and form stoic routines.

The goal of all of this is to help make my local poker scene better, while also improving my game in a way that doesn't present me with overwhelming opportunity costs. AKA, get better at poker without becoming a NIT or a GRINDER, and try to be a better man through Stoicism.

Early Life

Before I say anything about my early life I want to make it clear that I know everyone was trying the best they knew how. No one in my life tried to set me back with how they treated me, or what they did/didn't teach me. Everyone was living their own lives, and trying to help me based on what they thought was best.

That being said, I was a weird kid born to a conservative southern family and they didn't know what to do with me. I liked books, video games, and being left alone. I was born into a family of social people who liked to drink and play sports.

In those days, in the South especially, no one thought there was anything other than, "He's a weird one" to a boy who was always in his head, shattered by social interaction, lacking "common sense", always pulling his hat down to block out the world, crushed by anxiety in almost all situations, incapable of talking under stress, and in need of repeated patterns or else he will totally flip out. Nowadays, I think they have a spectrum for all that.

They struggled to understand me, and I don't think they had been raised to see things from the other person's point of view. I didn't help at all because all I wanted was to be left alone, and I couldn't explain what was going on inside my head. It was rough all around, but there was always love.

Finding a "Solution"

Somewhere along the way my older sibling helped me discover that drinking and doing other things would take care of my social anxiety. It was the only thing that had ever worked for me, and it worked well. I had found the thing that made me "normal" and capable of social interaction. I finally felt somewhat like I fit in, and I went all in right away on my new solution.

Before I knew it, the shy boy I had been was gone. I was in a punk rock/ hardcore band, I was going to concerts every week if not more often, I always knew where the party was, playing magic/poker with friends, and if you were looking for something... you were probably doing alright if you had my number.

That lasted throughout high school and college and it worked great. During that time, I also shifted my competitive focus from video games and Magic: the Gathering to poker. I was playing online, and taking the "free bus" to Atlantic City every weekend. End of story, I just happily drank and drugged my way to peace throughout life, NOT!

Things Take a Turn

Obviously, there came a point where things started to go very differently. I was in college the first time I woke up with the shakes, but I ignored them and they went away after I had a few drinks, so I figured it was no big deal. I started going broke in ways I couldn't remember during late night poker sessions. I was waking up owing apologies for things I didn't remember doing. It was bad and I couldn't stop it.

I hit my rock bottom after about 20 years of living my life like that. I had even mixed in some long periods of sobriety, but they were always for a set period of time and I went super hard after making it across the finish line.

Rock Bottom

My rock bottom was me at 450 lbs., tons of debt from poker and paying bar tabs (and college, but nothing special about that,) my health in horrible condition, almost zero surviving relationships, and a strong hatred for the man who had put me in the situation I was in (me.) Luckily for me, something was different this time and I was just done drinking... DONE. I used some classic methods, and they helped, but the real difference was inside me. I had no desire to keep making things worse for myself.

So I got sober, became a vegan (I'm not one anymore), and decided it was time to go to the doctor and see what problems needed fixing. After finding out I had lost 25 lbs and feeling pretty good about myself, the doctor felt a lump in my throat. I had thyroid cancer, but luckily treatment and a few surgeries knocked that out after several months of dealing with it.

Finding My Way Through Stoicism

In the years following, I focused a lot on my health. I aint skinny, but I did lose 200 lbs from my peak weight which feels great. The most important thing about losing all that weight was that it was my first time I had set my mind to accomplishing something and not allowed myself to quit.

I used the momentum from better health, and having faith in myself for the first time to start developing the habit of learning about something for an hour every morning before work. I started looking into motivational content, but that was too cheesy for me. While I was studying that, my favorite things were when they used examples from philosophers. I decided I would start learning about the history of philosophy for an hour a day. Somewhere along the way I landed on the Stoics and I really related to the things I learned.

Stoicism seemed like a perfect description of what I was finding within myself for the first time in my life. I was working every day to build my life into what I wanted to be, but Stoicism helped me learn to make a granular plan and stick to it no matter what obstacles were thrown at me.

Return to Studying Poker

Eventually, after 2 years of learning about philosophy, psychology, sociology, and history, I decided it was time to look into my old passion. I wanted to learn what the heck all these new guys were talking about in relation to poker. Back in the day I was just a drunk, raw aggression, lag on a mission to win it all or lose it all. If I was going to go back to playing poker, I was going to use what I had learned about learning and hard work to help me.

I signed up for Crush Live Poker and watched and took notes for an hour per day. At the same time I met a bunch of online crushers from Germany who thought I was a funny guy, so they invited me to join their GTO study group. I learned a lot but it was just as exciting as it sounds to study GTO for hours with a bunch of German crushers.

After a few months, I felt like I had gotten the maximum available from CLP and I decided to sign up for something else. I signed up for Charlie Carrel's site, but I think I was a little too early to that one, and it was right as he was going through the whole Doug Polk vs. Charlie spaces thing. There was a lot of things rescheduled, not a ton of committed people in the discord, but I found some gems and when we did have trainings at times I could attend, I got a lot out of them. I had fun and learned a little, but I had to move on from there as well.

Then I landed on a course by a smaller creator that really changed how I thought about everything. He broke down all the graphs and charts and actually EXPLAINED them in a way I could learn and remember, because it all made sense. I'm not naming this one, because I am not in this in order for everyone to learn how I play, and beat the living shit out of me. I don't have enough edge for that, if I have any at all... maybe for a sponsorship???

Finally, I decided I was going to purchase a year on a GTO trainer so I could keep sharp. Also, because every friend I had in the game to me to do so, and I was done with ignoring advice from better players.

Returning to Live Poker

After 2 years of studying, I decided I would test my game by playing online. I did well. Much better than ever before, but I could tell that I was getting killed by HUDs. I would get my roll high enough to go to the next level, and I would crush for a while, then everyone would adjust so hard that it would get much more difficult.

I also didn't like sitting in a room alone on a computer. That was weird, because I used to love nothing more than sitting alone and playing video games, but somewhere inside I could remember my old read-based game and I knew I was throwing away my biggest advantage by not being in the same room as the other players.

I decided I would spend one school year putting money off to the side and save up a poker bankroll to use at my local casino. By the time the summer rolled around I had 15 buyins set aside and I was ready to return to the live felt for the summer.

How did it go?.. You will have to come back to find out about all that.


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