The 2019 World Series of Poker is now in the rear-view mirror and this time of year — the immediate aftermath — is a unique one. Poker players choose to use this period of time in a variety of different ways, and some insight into how different pros handle these few weeks could be instructive for the rest of us as we emerge from the long WSOP grind.
In this edition of our ongoing Ask the Poker Experts series, we approached four well-known pros who went full throttle during the World Series of Poker to see what they’ll be doing during the last couple weeks of July and first week of August.
I’d like to thank Brian Hastings, Adam Levy, Jonathan Little, and James Obst, who kindly agreed to take part in this panel and share how they’re spending their time post-WSOP. I’m certain that Cardplayer Lifestyle readers will find their answers intriguing and instructive.
QUESTION: After a lengthy summer grind at the WSOP, how do you spend your time for the next few weeks until “the new poker year begins”?
The World Series of Poker is always the busiest time of my year. Most of the year, I work a more typical 50 hours a week or so. During the WSOP, it’s more like 70-80 hours a week. I’m a big believer in life balance and taking breaks from time to time, and I think post-WSOP is an ideal time to decompress and recharge a bit.
This year, my wife is pregnant. She was incredibly supportive of me during the Series, and I think it’s only right to put her first now. We decided to take a trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends this first weekend after WSOP. I left Las Vegas a few days ago and haven’t played a hand of poker since I left.
That said, the grind never stops for too long; we will be back in Florida soon and I plan to play a live tournament or two at Isle Pompano Park as well as several at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in early August. I do plan to play fewer hours than I typically do for the next few weeks, though.
I also think post-WSOP is a great time to focus on studying. During the Series I tend to be playing so much that I have very little time left for studying. This summer, I watched one Run It Once video and portions of a few final table streams. Otherwise my time was encompassed by playing, sleeping, eating, and a little bit of working out and socializing.
Last year after the WSOP I purchased PioSOLVER and worked with it a bunch in those first few months after the Series. This year I purchased Nick Petrangelo’s new Upswing Poker course and plan to dive in soon. I think post-WSOP is an ideal time for self-reflection, identifying areas one wants to improve in, and devising a study plan to make that happen.
Brian Hastings is a professional poker player best known for winning 4 WSOP bracelets and also for winning $4 million in one day playing online heads up Pot-Limit Omaha, the biggest single day win in online poker history. Engage with him on Twitter and Instagram @brianchastings.
This was probably the most rigorous grind I’ve had at the WSOP in years. The only time I took off while I was in Vegas (totaling nearly a month) of the 50+ days during the WSOP was five days, and three of those days were the days in between Day 1A & Day 2AB of the Main Event.
I find that at the end of the grind I want to do very little for a few days. I need to give my brain a rest and recharge from the intense critical thinking over the past month. I catch up with friends, eat some tasty meals, and just relax. After a few days of that, I’m ready to return to normal life.
The poker world makes you numb to money after a while of grinding, so reflection is important. Going over your buy-ins and squaring up with people who you swapped with or bought action is important. I want to put a bookend on the summer and figure out how I did. It makes me realize that while grinding the WSOP may seem like forever, I was able to just put a ton of money to work in a short amount of time. I remind myself to be thankful of the opportunity even if the summer didn’t go as planned.
After that, I’m ready to get back to normal(ish) life and, to put it bluntly, piece my life back together. No, it’s not in shambles, but there are always non-essential things I put on the back burner that I ultimately have to deal with once the WSOP finishes. Once those are taken care of, it’s important for me to get back into my daily routine of whatever I was doing before the WSOP grind disrupted it. If I don’t get back into a routine, I can waste away days doing nothing. Putting energy towards other ventures outside of poker really helps me and so does getting out of the house.
I will eventually circle back to poker of course. I will study some and tighten my game up after getting rusty over the summer. It’s easy to get yourself into bad habits when there isn’t much time to study, so it’s important to go back to basics, watch some videos, and go over hands you played. I wrote down about 50 hands I played over the summer, some mundane and some very interesting, but reviewing it all is important.
That pretty much sums up how I recharge after the summer.
Adam Levy has been a professional poker player since 2005 and is a seasoned veteran on the pro circuit. While he’s had a number of deep runs over the years, he’s most known for getting berated by Phil Hellmuth for playing Q10 of clubs in an iconic hand during the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event.
After a long grind at the WSOP, I typically get right back to my “day job” of helping me students be the best players they can be at pokercoaching.com.
I designed my life such that I spend a decent amount of time playing poker and then a decent amount of time at home, where I do not play much poker at all. I have found that this cycle keeps me fresh so I am always looking forward to what is coming next. I used to play poker all day every day, and after 10 years of that, it started to get old. Poker is supposed to be fun, and playing it less than all the time keeps it fun.
My body is usually pretty trashed after the WSOP, and this year is certainly no exception. I got sick right at the end, so I’ve extended my stay for a few days until I feel good to fly back to Australia, at which point I’ll just be in full on recovery mode. I look forward to being back in my infrared sauna daily, to hitting some tennis balls again finally, to getting back to my favorite yoga studio, and just to resume work on my aerobic fitness in general.
I already have an existing issue with my sympathetic nervous system dominating my parasympathetic — meaning I’m too often stressed and struggle to effectively relax — and the WSOP heavily exacerbates this problem. So, it’ll all be about training the parasympathetic system for a while. Then, as I start to feel strong and bright again, I’ll introduce some more targeted detoxification protocols and some high intensity exercise. Perhaps then, finally, it’ll be time to consider whether I need to travel again to play more poker. 😀
James Obst is an accomplished professional poker player with over a decade of success at both the live and online poker felt. Having accumulated millions of dollars in tournament cashes, James boasts a WSOP bracelet win as well as numerous online poker titles. Prior to turning his attention to the felt, James was a junior chess prodigy, and he still dreams of someday representing his native Australia at Wimbledon. You can learn more about him visiting his personal website.
Did you enjoy this panel discussion? Have you got any burning poker questions you’d like answered by some of the game’s top coaches, players, media personalities, tournament directors, or industry experts?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and yours might be the next question featured in our Ask the Poker Experts series.