The Path of Most Resistance

During lockdown last year I couldn’t go to the gym. When Boris announced that the gyms would close, it seemed like a good excuse not to exercise.


That was until I started to feel a bit low, as I’m sure many people did during that first lockdown. And so I committed to running again.

The thing is…


I hate running!


I hated it in school when we were forced to run a couple of laps round the whole playing field as a warm-up before games. I hated the annual cross country race.

So why did I decide that I should go running during lockdown?


Well, to start with it’s free (fun) and it gets you outside. And this was a time when regular exercise and getting out of the house was important for mental health. It seemed like a no brainer.


A few years ago, my friend JonPaul returned from a few weeks in Thailand at some kind of kick boxing camp. He told me to listen to an audiobook by a former Navy seal turned motivator called David Goggins. We were sitting around my kitchen table enjoying a nice warm cup of tea while it chucked it down outside. Suddenly, JP went, what I now understand to be, full on Goggins-mode and said we should go for a 10k run right now.


Now I was at home, with a full complement of training shoes and kit to choose from.

JP, on the other hand, was wearing flip flops...

“Path of most resistance, my friend!”, he said.


“Callous the mind!”, he continued.


Callous the mind? WTF?


That weekend I listened to ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins and it made me embrace tough challenges. Face them head on. I highly recommend it as it will help you overcome obstacles in everyday life and in your poker game.

Fast forward then back to lockdown 1.0 and I committed to running 5k three times a week. And I hated it. But I was callousing my mind and taking the path of most resistance so it was all right… right?!


This year I decided to get in shape so I got a PT. He’s called Tom and he’s great, inspiring and motivating! In our first session he asked me what I liked and didn’t like when it came to exercise. I told him how much I hated running and he said, “So stop running!”


I must’ve looked at him funny because he started laughing.

“If you don’t like running, you’re not gonna find motivation to get out and get it done. You need to find some kind of exercise that you enjoy”, he went on.

And at that point I realised that maybe I’d been looking at exercise in the wrong way.


Another trainer at the gym, Matty, asked me how my training was going last week. Having now done 4 months of strength and conditioning training I told him I was loving it. He said, “Well that’s the main thing then, you’ve got to enjoy it!”


I told Matty that I subscribed to the David Goggins approach to exercise. That I went out running during lockdown because I was taking the path of most resistance. He said, “People think you have to do the stuff you hate, but it’s not true!”


Here were two personal trainers telling me that I need to make sure I enjoy my training.


So how does this link to poker?

I recently recorded Episode 125 of Poker On The Mind with Dr Tricia Cardner. I told her that I don’t like playing live poker and might not make it out to the WSOP in 2022. I find it slow and boring and if you don’t get any opportunities, it can be a fruitless endeavour.


I’m not one for trying to create something out of nothing Lionel Messi style. I’m not going to force it with the 92o and the 73o. I’m going to sit there and be patient and if no spots come up, then that’s the way it’s going to go.

In all honesty I’m not upset or frustrated, I’m bored. You see fewer hands when you play live poker. Everyone knows that, and everyone knows what they’re signing up to.


If I don’t enjoy it then I’m not going to force myself to sit through it.

Tricia believes this is a mental game leak.


I disagree.


In my opinion, you shouldn’t do anything out of choice that you don’t enjoy.


Life is too short* to choose to spend time doing anything that you don’t enjoy. Life is for having fun, making memories, and experiencing all the things that the world has to offer.

*even though it’s the longest thing you’ll ever do.

A few weekends ago I went to Manchester for the first ever MTT Poker Academy meetup. Shout out to Ed who organised the whole thing. Poker, beer, food, more beer, more food, more poker oh and an escape room! And shoutout to everyone else who came... Patrick, Declan, Martin, Jake, Dan, Paul (aka Rick/Ian) and Gary.


It was a great weekend and I enjoyed meeting some of our Academy members. I’ve known some of them ‘virtually’ for over two years, but never actually met in ‘reality’.


We played a live tournament on the Friday night and I really didn’t enjoy it. I slowly blinded down to 10bb when I picked up ATs in MP, shoved and ran into AA.

GG.


Thanks for coming.


Hope you had a nice time!


Then we had an Academy-only Sit n Go on Saturday afternoon and I really enjoyed the social aspect. The poker was miserable. For some reason the casino decided we should play the whole tournament with no antes.


No ante poker is even more boring. You're forced to play even fewer hands since there’s less to fight for preflop. So I made the most of the banter and social aspect and made sure I didn’t let my lack of love for live poker affect the enjoyment of the weekend.


I did however pass on the final live tournament of the weekend on the Saturday night.

You shouldn’t do anything out of choice that you don’t enjoy. Out of choice is the important part of that idea.


Sure, there will be times when you need to do things that you don’t enjoy. Maybe it’s your job so you can put food on the table and shoes on the kids’ feet. Maybe it’s ending a relationship that isn’t working out. This idea of the path of most resistance and callousing the mind is great if you’re that kind of person. But if you’re not, then that’s ok.


That doesn’t mean that you should stop working hard. I still believe in the messages in ‘Can’t Hurt Me’. We should face challenges head on and embrace them to get what we want.

To get what you want in life, you’re going to have to work hard. You need to work out exactly what you want and make a plan to get there. Some of the hard work will be things you don’t enjoy or want to do. But this is different from actually going out and doing something that you don’t like.


Put in the reps off the table. Run sims, review hands and work on your game, while those around you party or watch Netflix. This is stuff that you might not enjoy, but is going to help you get to your end goal...


If your end goal is to get really good at poker and compete at the highest level.


If your goal is just to get a bit better then you don’t have to be so hard on yourself and/or spend hours in the lab working on your game.


Go and watch Netflix.

I’m not about to preach that you’re not going to make it if you don’t commit fully to the pursuit of poker success…


Stephen Chidwick said, “If I can go to bed every day being better in some way than I was when I woke up, then that’s, to me, success. I have goals and I think that I want to achieve results in poker, but obviously I think if you tie success to that then you’d be setting yourself up for failure.” (from the D&B Poker book, ‘The Pursuit of Poker Success’)


You need a process-orientated goal that has the potential for a by-product outcome. Starting with an outcome-based goal is okay if you can then map out the steps (or process) to get there.


But the journey will always be better than the destination.

Fall in love with the process of getting just that little bit better every single day.

If I had a big desire to win a bracelet then I would 100% go through the slow, boring, monotony of live poker.

But I don’t have ‘winning a bracelet’ as one of my goals.


That’s an outcome goal, where one of the steps would be to make sure you’re actually playing some bracelet events.

I recently recorded a podcast with Karlencho where he asked me if I ever dreamed of winning a SCOOP. I told him that, just like Stephen Chidwick, if you tie success to results then you’re setting yourself up for failure.


Whenever I play a poker tournament, my only goal is to play each hand to the best of my ability. If that leads to me winning a SCOOP, like it did this year, then that’s great! If I feel like I didn’t play a hand very well or just didn’t know what to do, then I use this as an opportunity for growth.


Maybe one day my goals will change and I’ll dream of winning a bracelet. But until that day, I’m going to focus on what I want and how to get there, and make sure I have as much fun in the process.

Good luck out there. Stay humble!


Gareth