Black Friday was a kick in the pants for poker players

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As a happily married poker player with an awesome 14-month-old son, I have relied on the freedom to play a legal game in the comfort of my home so I don’t have to be on the road as much. So, naturally, when I got the news of Black Friday, I was devastated, right? I was just kind of numb at first, but I’m actually a little bit happy. Why? It has forced many of us who have become slaves to our jobs grinding online to take some time off. At my last live event, I ran into a couple of guys who I know grind extremely hard online and I was shocked at how good they both looked. One of them said, “Man, it’s amazing waking up on Monday not still being all stressed out about everything that happened on Sunday.”

Now back to Gray Friday. There are simply too many positives creeping in here for me to keep calling it Black Friday. I’ve been able to break free from my computer for just long enough to get a grip on what’s important and finally see it’s OK to take a break and enjoy life and those who make it so great. So, with my new, healthier perspective, I know when online poker does come back full force, I will have the discipline to balance everything much better.

This also has motivated me to play more live poker. Having played so much online in the past few years, I had become more reclusive than my normal self. Online play is invaluable for its ability to allow you to see so many hands in such little time, and to help you learn many of the standard betting patterns that players follow. But the social aspect of poker is obviously absent, with the exception of an occasional chat line or two. I’ve logged a few live sessions since Gray Friday and besides booking some nice wins, I realized again how fun, educational and profitable live poker can be.

Online poker had gotten really tough over the past few years, as the pool of fish has mainly dried up while many online players have really studied and developed their games. I also have enjoyed working on my live game, getting more in tune with physical and table-talk tells, and staying disciplined based on this additional information I get while sitting across from opponents. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me as we were just a few weeks away from the start of the World Series. With grinding some live sessions vs. opponents with myriad skill levels, I know I’m going to be better prepared than ever heading to the Rio.

With all of this said, I’d like to make sure everyone knows I’m not happy about what has transpired and the charges and arrests that have been made against the owners of our most popular sites. I’m not happy recreational players who don’t live near a cardroom or are disabled, sick or otherwise incapacitated can’t play the game at home.

I am happy for those of us who needed the kick in the butt to get a better balance with our lives and realize that, yes, it’s OK to miss a Sunday online once in a while. It’s a shame we needed that, but I know it’s something that people in many other professions fall victim to as they just keep on living to work instead of working to live and enjoy our short time on this planet.

I hope we eventually get to a state of licensed and regulated online poker and that when the time comes, we remember the reduced stress that the forced break has spawned. I hope we can keep our priorities straight and maintain a balanced life. After all, isn’t that the reason most of us chose poker as a profession? We developed a passion for the game and then realized if we could make a living doing it we would be our own boss and could have as much free time as we wanted. My life is becoming much more fun than it was the past few years. Don’t get me wrong; it’s been pretty good for the most part, but I’m going to play poker when I want to play poker. I’m going to spend more time with my family, even if it means I miss some can’t-miss tournament and I’m going to enjoy the freedom of my career choice that makes it so appealing for those that aspire to live it.
Decide to Win! And to truly win, this means you’re enjoying your life, family and friends.

— Lee Childs is a poker pro who founded Acumen Poker.