For the title of this poker article I’ve borrowed from the cult classic The Big Lebowski. Even if you’ve never seen the film, you’re probably familiar with a legendary scene in which bowling lover Walter Sobchak (played by John Goodman) boldly proclaims that he doesn’t “roll on shabbos”. Bowling may have been sacrosanct to him, but even that took a back seat to shabbos. So, too, for me and my passion for poker writing: I don’t blog about poker on shabbos!
Over the last few years, poker has become an integral part of my life, mainly because of this blog, I tell people that my poker blog is “my side gig that I do on nights and weekends”, but that fact is that it’s on my mind all the time; it’s my love and my passion. I’m always thinking about the next blog post I want to write, the next poker personality I want to interview, and more ways to grow the blog’s audience, as well as dreaming about actually “getting out there on poker’s frontlines” to see things unfold before my eyes instead of writing about the game from my home office. There’s one very notable exception however: shabbos (Ed. note: and the Jewish holidays).
What “Shomer Shabbos” Means to a Poker Blogger
What shabbos means as an observant Jew is that from sundown every Friday until stars out every Saturday night I’m “off the grid”. That means no email, no phone, no TV, no Internet; just me and the immediate world around me. So, as far as my poker blogging is concerned:
- Got an amazing poker scoop for me about someone who won boatloads of cash playing in Canada? Sorry, it’ll have to wait until after shabbos.
- In the middle of writing a great poker article late Friday afternoon? Time to turn off the computer and get ready for shabbos.
- About to close a deal with a potential advertiser? Sorry, we’ll have to conclude the talks next week; shabbos is coming.
And you know what? Shabbos is awesome! Every week as I welcome shabbos into my life, I heave a huge sigh of relief. What a great feeling it is to not HAVE to be wired anymore for the latest poker news. What a welcome break from the constant grind! In today’s 24/7 world I think that the only way someone can possibly detach themselves from being wired is by essentially being forced to take a break. That’s precisely what shabbos provides; a chance for me to rest my mind from all the thoughts racing through my head and recharge my batteries. Plus, when shabbos ends, I’m that much hungrier and ready to charge out of the gates towards another week of blogging about poker.
Many of you may have read my post a while back on why I don’t blog about poker more often. There, I cited my full-time job, as well as being married + 3 as the main reasons. Well, there’s also shabbos. A full 25 hours out of every weekend simply cannot and does not get devoted doing any poker writing. While some may think that this means I “lose out” on precious free time away from my full-time job that I could use to work on Cardplayer Lifestyle, I humbly beg to differ. It’s specifically the non-poker shabbos time that ends up being most precious and valuable to me.
A “Shabbos from Poker” for Players?
This isn’t a post meant to proselytize poker players, or anyone else for that matter, to go all Orthodox Jewish. Au contraire – as far as religion and religious observance goes, to each their own, in my opinion. Religion certainly isn’t something to discuss at the poker table itself. That said, I do believe that the principle of “shabbos” can be applied to one’s poker playing routine.
Take, for example, Jarrett Nash, who famously disappeared while playing in the WSOP Main Event a couple years back (just Google “Jarrett Nash poker” for the full story). While that might be a bit of an extreme case (i.e., why enter in the first place if you know you may have to leave?), the principle remains the same – the idea of “rest” was more important to Mr. Nash than continuing to play poker.
The Bible says that “over six days shall you work and complete all of your tasks… while on the seventh day you shall rest”. Placing the religious commandment to the side, I’d like to posit that that “rest” is critical for poker players. If you’re grinding every day, you’ve got to take time off, otherwise you’ll get ground up.
What to Do on Your Day of Rest from Poker?
For the 25 hours of my own shabbos, I’m truly “free” and thus compelled to engage in other activities that I don’t usually have/make the time to do.
Besides allowing you to recharge from the constant grind at the tables, deciding to take a “shabbos” from poker play can certainly be beneficial in other ways. The day off could be used to read your favorite poker books or magazines. For example, a few months ago I read The Mental Game of Poker. As detailed in my review, I read the entire tome over four successive shabboses. It was specifically the fact that I wasn’t wired that enabled me to have the full concentration needed to get the most out of the book.
You could also use the day of rest from playing poker to doing other poker-related activities, such as reviewing your poker notes or perhaps hanging out with your poker buddies and engaging in a non-poker activity like playing sports together or going out to a movie or sporting event.
Pretty much anything “works”, so long as it’s a break from your regular poker playing routine. Just like The Big Lebowski’s Walter Sobchak though, the key to a successful “shabbos from poker” is to make it sacrosanct.