It’s Day 48 of my 60 Day “Find Myself” challenge, which I issued to myself after deciding I had somehow become a bit lost in life.

Today I write you from the bed in my hotel room in Las Vegas where I just feel… happy. Why? Because I just took a risk and realized a dream I’ve had for a while now: to come participate in The World Series of Poker.

I haven’t shared much about my love of poker with all of you. It’s not just a small love. It’s something I have studied, and practiced, and put my heart and soul into learning over the years. It’s something that I don’t get to do as often as a professional would, being a single dad, but I love it all the same. Poker, in my opinion, is the most difficult, most challenging, and most trying game on the planet.

So many people in the world look at poker only as gambling (which is why I really don’t mention it). It certainly is for many people, and believe me. I have my nights where I lose discipline and play lousy and lose my money. Every poker player does. But when I’m dialed-in at the table, I feel like I can’t make a wrong move, and I often don’t on those nights.

But to come to The World Series of Poker (WSOP) and sit down with some of the best players in the entire world? To sit with those who don’t play for dollars like me, but for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time? It scared the crud out of me. It felt like I would just be lighting money on fire and I’d get eaten alive.

But, remember how I’m doing this #FindMyself60 challenge?! Well, part of that was to do something for myself that I have really wanted to do for some time, but haven’t done for fear of whatever always stops me. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything like that for myself, and I decided it was time. Win or lose, I was gonna take a shot.

Now, I’ve never played with the big-boys (or occasional girl), but I had real faith in myself. I won the last three small-stakes tournaments I played at a nearby casino, which is pretty hard to do (I’ve only played four of them total). I played a few super cheap tournaments online and “made the money” in the majority of them, and actually took second in one of them (there were around 1200 who entered that one). For some reason, I just seem to do well with poker tournaments.

But… WSOP? These tournaments are not a bunch of businessmen and college kids putting a hundred bucks in and going for it just for fun. This is the best players in the world, people who do it for a living, putting in a lot more money and going for it. And believe me, they’re giving it their all. Everyone is. In other words, everything I had done to that point was small potatoes compared to what I was stepping into.

And, here’s the kicker (no pun intended for those of you who play poker)… In poker tournaments, only the top 10% or so of people “make the money” (where they make more than their original money back). And only the top 10% of that top 10% make any decent money. That means 90% of people lose their money, 8-9% make just a little bit of money, and 1-2% make really big bucks. The odds are not in your favor, for sure.

Yet, it’s not a total craps shoot. You consistently see some of the same pros going deep in so many tournaments. There is serious skill and strategy involved for those who do. A lot of luck, for sure, but skill to back it all up… Math knowledge to back it up. Reading of people to back it up. Reading of situations to back it up. And (the one that scared me the most), experience to back it all up.

But, hey. Knowing there was a good chance I’d lose it, I decided to go for it anyway, knowing I’d never regret trying.

So… I bit the bullet, I slid the thousand bucks across the counter for the first tournament, and I nervously got my seat assignment. I felt way out of my element as I entered the giant hall where hundreds of people were already seated, playing. And guess what… I rocked it!


dan-pearce-world-series-of-poker2Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing