POKER LIFESTYLE

Six More Dawns. Six More Days. Six Days More.

I know I was just there in late March, but it somehow feels like forever since I’ve been in Las Vegas. It’s a place I think about every day. A happy place for me, with memories stretching back all the way to my childhood.

robbie ballys las vegas kid

As the clock continues ticking down towards my impending flight, six more days of anticipation feels like an absolute eternity. I sit in my living room half a world away, desperately trying to feel that summer poker vibe pulsating throughout Sin City.

Even as I run my own poker media site, I can’t help but embrace my inner poker fan, following WSOP coverage nearly every waking moment of my day. Poker is everywhere I look: from the streaming coverage on PokerGO and YouTube to live updates on PokerNews to instant coverage on PokerOrg. There’s a never-ending stream of posts in the poker-oriented Facebook groups I participate in, as well as updates from a ton of players and fellow poker media members I follow on Twitter. Even my daily exercise walks have poker “flowing right into my veins”, courtesy of the PokerGO and PokerNews Podcasts.

It’s like I’m there… but I’m still here, over 7,500 miles away.

And I know I’ve got almost three whole weeks there coming up, my longest ever continuous stint in Las Vegas. Yet, that’s still not enough. I want to be there RIGHT NOW! I wanted to be there last week, two weeks ago. How can so much poker be going on without me?!

robbie Las vegas

So, I turn to my home game for solace. Somehow, I manage to rack up about 12 hours of play over three sessions since the start of the World Series of Poker. A dozen hours of blissful mixed game poker action, of joy despite ending up in the red for two of the three sessions.

Ah, mixed games. My muse.

How much time and effort I’m pouring into the upcoming Mixed Game Festival. It’s the fifth one I will have staged in under two years. That’s just awesome. And it’s a lot of hard work! But I love it. I love coordinating the logistics with Resorts World; I can’t wait to see all the great people who work there. They’ve become my friends; not just my “poker friends.” And I love corresponding with all the Mixed Game Festival sponsors. It’s incredible how supportive they all are of what I’m trying to do: provide a space for mixed game poker to grow at a purely grassroots level. And I can’t wait to see all the regulars who’ve attended multiple festivals, and to meet “new people”, the future mixed game lovers of our poker world. It’s going to be amazing.

And yet, even that which I love is still work at the end of the day. I want more! To PLAY poker!

Six freaking days until I get on that plane! ARGH!

I want to play in tournaments. I never have time for tournaments. It’s always been cash games. This time, finally, I’ve MADE the time. I’ve played in perhaps a dozen or so tournaments in 20 years since turning 21 years old. I want that tournament poker glory so badly.

I want the winner’s photo! I want to find a goddamn bag! Hell, I just want a HendonMob profile. I came this close in my last tournament, over four months ago. Such “simple”, natural things that it feels like every poker player on the planet has, save me. Because I live half a world away. In a place with no casinos. No poker rooms. Just my beloved home game.

I can’t just hop over to Vegas for the weekend on a lark. Like everyone else.

I can’t just hop into a $5K or a $10K. How does everyone have so much goddamn money to fire armory-loads of bullets at every tournament under the sun? Where does it come from? What am I missing?

My humble four-figure bankroll has been painstakingly built over years of occasional $.25/$.50 home games and the rare trips abroad where I “move up” to $1/2 and $1/3. I’m not poor, thank Gd, but what I earn must go towards supporting my family of five, and life’s REALLY expensive in Israel. I’ve been a lifetime winner in poker, and I’m damn proud of the bankroll I’ve managed to accrue without having to ever dip into my personal funds.

To be sure, I’ve had the chance to take some amazing shots. I’ve played in two $1,500 bracelet events. I’ve even played in the famed $80/$160 mixed game, surrounded by the sharks. Multiple times.

But I want more. I want to be in the thick of it. I want to fill the gaping holes in my poker resume. And I can. Because I’ve proven that I’m a winning player. And I know that I’ve got what it takes to win.

The Poker Time Has Come

And now, at long last, at age 41, the circumstances are such that I’m finally able to make the time! It’s been such a long road. So much waiting. So much patience. So much impatience.

My kids are 15, 13, and almost 11. My wife, Miriam, has always been beyond amazing to me. She said I could have the extra week away, but she wasn’t really thrilled. Almost three weeks away from home is a long time, even with relatively independent kids. There’s always a cost, a price to pay.

I’ve been present though. I’ve made the right decisions year after year. I matter critically in the lives of the four most important people in my life. And my absence will be felt. And I will miss them all, too. But it’s time. It’s my time. And I must make it count.

Will I win a bracelet? No. I’m not even planning to play in any bracelet events. I want to mix it up, and there are some great mid-three-figure buy-in mixed game tournaments that have my name on them, set to run over the final week of June. And I’m going to be there. And I’m going to have a seat at the table.

And I’m going to run pure.

And I’m going to prove something that I’ve always believed in all these years: I’ve got the chops to play and to win.

And it’s just a few little mixed game tournaments over a stretch of a few days… but what a magnificent few days they will be.

Life-changing money doesn’t have to be millions. Even just a few thousand dollars of proof that I can do what I believe I can do goes a LONG way towards ensuring that this “first time” will hopefully be the first of many other times. Proof that I’m destined to play more poker and fulfill heretofore unfulfilled dreams.

Six more days until I get on that plane.

Every dream I’ve chased in life, I’ve thankfully and blessedly been able to catch.

Now, it’s time to chase the elusive one.

LET’S PLAY POKER!

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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded Cardplayerlifestyle.com in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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