Dear Gripsters and fellow poker enthusiasts,
In the beginning of 2016, I shared a simple message - a simple mantra - and that message was this:
2016 is the year!
Now, a lot of you may be thinking: how can it be the year, when Gripsed has barely been here? How can it be the year, when the Gripsed WSOP cashing streak came to a conclusion? How can it be the year when there has barely been any fresh new content on YouTube to keep us moving forward on our paths to building our poker and life dreams?
Let me begin answering those questions with an apology.
I would like to apologize to all the loyal and faithful Gripsters who have been a part of the project. I would like to apologize for not being as dependable and consistent as I once was. To express and communicate why this has been the case, I’m going to let you all in on a little bit of behind the scenes action, so you can see what’s been going on in my life, and why I haven’t been able to pump out quality content at the prolific rate of years past.
In life we experience change, and it takes time to adjust to that change. It takes time to adapt and become not just comfortable, but optimal in our new environment.
This year has been one of great change for me, and almost all of the changes have been for the better. While in the short term it was a small speed bump for Gripsed Poker Training and Project Get Me Stackin’, in the long term these changes are going to have an extremely positive impact on my life, your life, and anyone else’s life who is touched by our efforts.
Let’s take it out of the ether for a second, and I’ll tell you exactly what startling, awakening and sometimes, scary changes I’m talking about.
I’m talking about...
- Ending a two year relationship which gave me tons of support while I worked away.
- Moving to a new apartment, new neighbourhood and having to make new friends.
- Experiencing my biggest win ever online, and not really knowing how to handle it.
- Experience my biggest live score ever, and not feeling the lasting satisfaction I was expecting.
- Scandals and bullying in the workplace which played a small role in my decision to disconnect.
- Issues and conflicts with some of my very best friends, which saw me almost spend the WSOP by myself rather than spending the summer with my favorite people like I usually do.
- Another roommate and great friend of mine, Griffin Benger, made the November Nine.
- The realization that I had been putting 90% of my energy towards my career, my work, serving others which left a lot of my life out of balance and me feeling the effects.
I get it. To many, these events don’t all sound all that bad, and in fact, some weren’t. Some were incredibly positive. Still, anyone who’s gone through anything similar knows that whether it’s an extreme high or an extreme low, it’s hard for the body, mind and brain to really grasp, interpret and come to terms with what’s going on. And in the presence of external noise and external stimulus, it’s even harder to understand exactly what’s happened. It’s almost impossible to put it in proper perspective.
The real reason I took an extended leave from Twitch, and the real reason I took an extended leave from YouTube is that I needed time for myself. I needed quiet solitude so that I could reflect on my life, and reflect on the events that had transpired without distraction - without the voices or the opinions of others tainting the purity of my thoughts. Only I know the significance of these events in the big picture, and the same is true for you with any big events that will happen in your life.
Nobody knows the self better than oneself.
It’s easy to get caught up in the thoughts, wants, needs of others, especially on the internet. It’s easy to become a people pleaser and to try to make sure that everyone is taken care of. Don’t get me wrong: I love helping people and I love making the world a better place - this is why I do what I do and why I have stuck with it for so long - but as time went on and things grew, there were too many people to please and I simply couldn’t keep up. This not being able to say no - this not being able to prioritize what needed attention and what could be ignored - led to adrenal fatigue and consequently, my eventual burnout.
The truth is I had been meaning to take a break from work since August of 2015, but I was so addicted to the feedback, the growth, the rising of the numbers and the building of the team that I ignored all the signs my body was giving me. I was working day and night from a basement apartment with very little sunlight, not eating enough foods or at the right time or in the right state of mind and not getting adequate exercise. My relationships were suffering and clearly, my life was out of whack. This is the dangerous allure that money and success can bring: the mind loves it, the ego can’t get enough of it, but the body and soul can suffer.
Upon reflection, upon research and upon listening to others who have been through the same thing (Tim Ferris, Elliott Hulse and Eben Pagan, to name a few), I realize that this doesn’t have to be the way. One can enjoy the rollercoaster ride of success and at the same time enjoy the fruits of life. One can take time to smell the roses, talk to the pretty girls, enjoy a sunset or the sound of the ocean. All it takes is a little bit of planning and proper prioritization.
But as the old saying goes, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. And when we’re focused on the trees, all we do is try to navigate them, rather than see our way out of the forest.
That’s where I was in the land of Twitch and YouTube: I was in the forest just trying to get around the trees and it was tiring as hell.
The only way we can see things differently is to step out of the forest and look at the entire thing for what it is, and then try to find the best path to the other side - if that’s our destination, of course.
This literal and metaphorical pointlessness is why I had to stop making videos for a little while. It’s why I had to stop streaming. I had to step out of the environment so that I could see the whole picture. And today, when I look at the big picture, it looks incredible.
In my time of reflection, self-care and re-education, I have slowly but surely made moves to get my life back in order. At the suggestion of Tai Lopez, I started reading outside my field of work. I devoured books that had nothing to do with poker and realized there’s a whole wealth of knowledge that can help one live a better life, which, by extension, will also help one play better poker.
I’ve given myself permission to actually go out and experience things I’ve always wanted to; things that make my soul happy.
Like spending a few weeks at a retreat in the Bahamas learning the art of Thai massage and of caring and connecting with other human beings. Like soaking up an entire summer doing yoga rather than doing what I’m used to doing (which is grinding the WSOP hard). Things like getting Reiki training, going to music festivals and taking time away from the city to be in beautiful settings with friends, and most importantly, making an effort to reconnect with my family.
If it’s not obvious in this writing, I’ll say it plain and simple: the thing that was most missing in my life was love and connection with other human beings.
Despite having lots of viewers and subscribers online, I felt completely isolated and alone because I spent 90% of my time working by myself.
When something is out of balance, just making a little effort to set things right yields great gains, and this is what I learned when I allowed myself the opportunity to experience what I need, rather than what my ego/competitive mind wants. I should have been doing these other things all along to keep my life in check, but I got caught up on the chase for success. I was completely obsessed with the game and I let what really mattered slip.
But I’m back in balance, and back on track.
While making time for myself was necessary and non-negotiable, there’s something I else I realized. Despite feeling more fulfilled in one aspect of my life, I felt a void in another. While as an individual I was happier, healthier, more focused and calm, I was no longer serving a community: I was not contributing to the greater good - at least not on a regular basis.
One of the easiest ways to boost your mood and self-esteem is to do good for others and expect nothing in return, and this is one of the amazing hidden benefits of being a teacher that students often don’t realize. When I get feedback on a video letting me know that what I said changed someone’s life for the better, it makes me feel amazing, and there honestly isn’t much out there that can compete with this feeling.
In short, I miss you. All of you.
I miss your stories of growth and progress. I miss your feedback. I miss your fun questions, and I miss the collective energy of the Gripsters as we march forward toward our dreams.
I’ve long known about the power of intention. In March of 2012, I made my primary focus winning the Main Event, and the results have been pretty solid proof of the power of this technique. In 2012, I had 2% of the World Champion Greg Merson, and this year I have 1% of Griffin Benger, who could easily go on to win this thing. During that time, I also cashed the Main Event every single year until this year, when my obsession without reflection caught up to me.
I also know that by making our intentions public, our resolve to commit to seeing them through to fruition is much stronger, and that’s why I want to share my intentions with you today.
Over the next four months, my intention is two-fold:
1) To mold myself into the spitting image of a world champion: body, mind, and soul.
2) To take the Gripsed Poker Training project to the next level and hit our goal of 100k reached and teached. (And this includes taking on more one-on-one training clients than ever. More on this next week!)
Number one is going to involve work in a lot of dimensions: Energy management, proper rest, proper exercise, proper nutrition, quality relationships, self-less service…the list goes on.
To give myself the best chance of making this change in such a short time frame, I’m going to be working with mentors, studying material on self-mastery, and constantly taking time to apply the teachings I’m learning, because all the book smarts in the world won’t lead to any transformation whatsoever if the body isn’t taking action to integrate that new way of being. It’s not about what you’ve done in the past, or what you intend to do in the future that really defines you as a person, but what you do in your day-to-day existence - that’s what really matters. Nothing is more important than the now, and that’s why it holds so much power.
This process is going to be extensively in depth, and I’m going to take it just as seriously if not more seriously than I did when it came to becoming the best tournament poker player I could be. The difference is that this is a life-time project and therefore much more important than simply mastering a game: a game, which granted, I love, and can be very profitable and is a great training ground, but a game that ultimately pales in comparison to real, raw, undeniable life.
My second intention is going to involve becoming more focused in the way I approach teaching. In the interest of giving you all the highest quality content, it’s important that I put my energy toward the projects that yield the greatest results and the juiciest fruits for you as Gripsters. Based on the feedback I’ve received over the years, Project Get me Stackin’, the MTT Strategy Guide and one-one-one sessions have had the most positive effect on people’s games. And to me it’s pretty obvious why: these methods teach a way of thinking, a mindset that you can take and match to situations as they arise. Hand history reviews, on the other hand, for example, are unique to each circumstance and the concepts don’t carry over to all situations the same way.
My goal with Gripsed has always been to teach you how to be independent - to teach you how to fish for yourself, and to teach you how to be your own distinct world-class poker player.
It’s not about learning a specific style. It’s not about playing the same way everyone else does. It’s about understanding the game from a big-picture perspective; seeing how all the working parts fit together and knowing what to pay attention to so that YOU can make the right decision in the moment. After all, you’re the one at the table, so you need to know how to think about the game properly. You need to feel your way through situations, and to trust your gut intuition. Gut instinct is a force, and it contains the power of everything you’ve learned up to this point, whether you consciously know it or not.
Fortunately, since I learned about meditation in the summer of 2013, I have been journalling on a regular basis. I have a record of almost everything I went through in my efforts to become the best poker player I could be; the best person I could be. As the process continues, I am going to keep a record of all that I do, and my intention is to start sharing more of those behind the scenes lessons that helped me along my journey.
When I went to my first yoga retreat in Australia on a whim after the Aussie Millions, I wrote:
“Team Gripsed FTW. I will travel the world sharing wisdom and achieving victory for the team and for myself. Our results and incessant victories will bring awareness to the natural power that lies within. 2014 IS OUR YEAR!”
This is about so much more than poker.
It’s about using the spotlight we receive through our success to create ripples of change: holistic health, wealth and happiness for the world, and for all who dwell within it.”
Of course, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the chase for money. I got caught up in the chase for viewership. I got caught up in the chase for attention and the feeling of being important, but after quality time spent in reflection, I’m ready to put all that aside, and get back on track, focused on one thing and one thing only:
Ensuring that the next generation of poker players are happy, healthy human beings. And if that can spread beyond just the poker players, that’s fantastic.
Now, I understand that some viewers and consumers of the Gripsed content are not interested in these other elements of life yet, or may already have these areas under control. I understand that some players only want strategy content, and for that reason that Gripsed YouTube channel is going to stick with poker content. But for any Gripsters out there - or anyone, period - who shares the following values:
- honesty and integrity (with yourself and with others)
- a burning desire for self improvement (on and off the table)
- an openness to new ideas, experiences and education
- a selflessness (cares about the happiness of others)
- a deep self respect, self acceptance and self love
...if these attributes resound with you, I encourage you to join the mailing list. This is where I will be sharing not only my own personal pursuits and revelations, but also the sources and resources which are helping me become more whole and happy, enabling me to actually live the life I dreamed about. After all, I’m not the one with all the great ideas: these ideas have been around for centuries, and all that’s important is that people are aware of them. Claiming ownership is a vain and futile pursuit.
I will also be sharing videos and journals like this as I progress through the journey, and for anyone who really connects with me on a heart and soul level, I encourage you to join me for the ride. I’ll be going deeper into topics like meditation, breathwork, journalling, mind-control and things that will help you take full control of your life.
Whatever your dream is, I want to help you live it, and the systems I’m going to be studying and sharing will teach you how to do just that.
They’ll teach you how to have an abundance of energy and how to channel that energy towards building what it is you truly desire so that you can experience all you want in life: a true, lasting happiness. And I’ll tell you from personal experience, that money alone cannot ever give you that. I’ll also tell you that when you learn to master yourself, you can make your wildest dreams come true, and that when you learn to master your mind, you literally transcend the grind and your whole experience of life changes to one that’s full of joy, excitement, love, pleasure, and inner peace.
All that anxiety you feel? You don’t have to feel that way.
Any fear that’s keeping your stuck? You can transform it into energy that works for you.
Emotions are meant to be energy to be put in motion, and I want to teach you how to do that.
There’s more to being a successful poker player than knowing how to read a range and manipulate pot sizes. And there’s more to being successful at life than being able to tear up the felt.
My intention for the next four months is to take the study of that process into overdrive, and build momentum in key areas so I can continue this development process for the rest of my life. When I’m 90 years old, I hope that I’ll be sitting at the most enlightened, most entertaining home game in town (the stakes really don’t matter), and I hope you’ll be at that table with me, sharing your stories from your battles on the green, and your ecstatic experiences in life.
It’s time to make the transition from degenerate gambler to regenerated Gripster.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride.
Sat nam and namaste, Gripsters. I’ll see you on the internets!
(Truth is my name. The light in me sees the light in you.)