Finding balance in your poker life



By Matthew Gregoire

One of the most important aspects of a person’s life is balance. It’s common to see the same players day-in and day-out at the casino playing countless hours. They have allowed poker to consume them and it often results in a life of misery and negativity.

I’m sure most of you who play in any casino see these individuals regularly. They’re just unhappy, whether they’re winning or losing. It has become a running joke when you see this player take a bad beat and proceed to berate his opponent or spew off a buy-in or two.

For me, it has become a regular occurrence to see this. After some self-evaluation over the years, I have come to realize it’s becoming more difficult to not become this bitter individual. But, luckily, I was able to broaden my horizons and bring new things into my life to help restore balance.

One of the things that I have incorporated is travel. During a recent visit to Europe (my first time), one of my goals was to not play or think about poker.

This was my first trip out of the country with this new mind-set and I must admit it was difficult. Every day my goal is to get better at poker and adjust to new playing strategies to maximize my profits.

When I took this mind-set out of the equation and focused on just having fun and unwinding, it was a gratifying experience. When our minds are not set on focusing about our careers, it becomes much easier to meet new people, try new things and just become a better person. It takes away the constant anguish of self-improvement and turns it into an approach of allowing everything in your life to improve.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but for a while this was the direction my mind took me.

Now even adding one simple thing such as travel has given me a new outlook on life. It has made me want to focus on bringing value to the hours I put in at the table by using this money for something I will cherish for the rest of my life rather than moving up in stakes or spending it on an expensive meal.

These articles I write for Ante Up are invaluable to me since it gives me a chance to evaluate my thoughts in writing. I hope if you are having the same impasse in life that it also provides you an opportunity to not become the cranky, bitter poker player at the table.

— Matthew Gregoire is a pro poker player living in Miami. You can email him at

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