At a time in 2007, it seemed logical to scale my poker career to a level where I maintained a blogging presense. Back then, it seemed possible that I might fulfill my dream of becoming a poker celebrity. In a way, I suppose I kind of did and should be proud of that. I got a little choked up recently watching All In: The Poker Movie. The Chris Moneymaker montage took me back to a time when competing at the WSOP was my biggest dream. It was a moment where I realized I did it, I lived my dreams.
Never let anything get in the way of your dreams.
My dreams today are a little more practical. I’m on the verge of 30 now. With aging comes an awareness of the harsh reality that time is a finite commodity. I still have a lot of years ahead of me but I do feel more of a sense of urgency. If you want to get to where you want to be you’ve got to get to work.
I’m still working on the “where I want to be” part. My goal career-wise is to accumulate and manage some measure of wealth. If I ever won the lottery I’d want to invest in businesses as well as worthy charitable endeavors.
The attraction to wealth is why I started playing poker in the first place. And it’s why I’m fervent about capitalizing on the unexpected opportunity that is daily fantasy sports. One day I hope to have a pretty cool story to share about having made millions because of fantasy sports. But the ink is only on the first few pages of that one so far.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to get an MBA. I’m enrolling at Notre Dame this fall. I’ve been fortunate to have all of the right pieces fall into place to have that opportunity. In my first visit with their admissions office I gained a sense that of all the things on my resume it was the WSOP experience that stood out the most. It was neat to have my dreams of playing poker come full circle like that and assist towards getting on with the next chapter of my life. It should be a blast. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot of useful things along the way.
To the friends and family from who I am occasionally told, “I read your blog,” thank you. If you hear from me again in this format it will be in a re-branded manner. I’ve gotta update away from the poker emphasis. Blogging is a unique opportunity in the scale of human history. I recommend giving it a try. Everyone has interesting things they can talk about.
It’s been a while since I’ve put up a blog so I thought I’d write about a couple of my favorite health habits. I’m not that healthy of a person really. I like to drink alcohol sometimes and I love eating really awesome food. But I try to balance it out with a few healthy daily practices. Two of my favorite healthful activities are juicing and Bikram yoga.
My girlfriend’s family got me a juicer for Christmas. I had been wanting one for a while since a tweet long ago by Jon Aguiar praised the film Fat Sick and Nearly Dead which espouses the health benefits of drinking a ton of vegetable juice every day. I saw the film and the whole concept seemed right up my alley. I’ve also motivated to try juicing by Joe Rogan, host of the podcast the Joe Rogan Experience, who says his daily juice routine is largely responsible for just feeling great all the time. And who doesn’t want to feel great all the time?
Basically juicing allows you to take a basketful of vegetables that you would otherwise be impossible to chew through raw and liquefy them into a juice you can drink in a matter of minutes. So my morning routine has lately involved pouring a cup of coffee and pushing a bunch of vegetables into a machine that liquefies them. Here’s a typical recipe of what I’ll make (it’s what I’m drinking right now as I write this):
- a bunch of kale leaves
- two large carrots
- a cucumber
- four celery ribs
- an apple
- a pear
- four garlic cloves
- a chunk of peeled ginger
I juice all of that and add salt, pepper, one tablespoon of spirulina and a little hot sauce. The ginger and the hot sauce largely overwhelms the flavor profile of the vegetables so it’s pretty tolerable if not downright tasty.
I don’t want to put off anyone with ridiculous claims about the health benefits of juicing, nor am I even vaguely aware of what those benefits might actually be, but I can say that I’ve felt pretty good most mornings after drinking it. At the very least it’s resulted in a lot of nice bowel regularity which is reason enough to give juicing a try if you ask me.
I’ve been practicing a style of yoga performed in a room heated to 105 degrees with 50% humidity for about five years. When I was living in Houston, I moved in next door to a Bikram Yoga studio. I’d routinely see people coming out of the building just covered in sweat. Being that it appeared to be an awesome workout, I strolled over there to give it a try one day.
It kicked my butt. That class was probably the most intense workout of my life up to that point which is pretty incredible considering you never leave the space occupied by your yoga mat. Just to give you an idea of how intense it is spending 90 minutes in a hot room stretching, my average body weight loss from a class is 12 pounds. Granted, that’s primarily just water weight lost through sweating a ton (and I sweat like a little pig in these classes, it literally pours off of me and is not pretty) but that should characterize a little the transformative effect of the classes.
I don’t buy into a lot of the unsubstantiated health claims made by most yoga instructors (example: “it cleanses your body of toxins”, what toxins exactly?!) But I do know that it’s a damn good way to burn calories and stay really, really flexible. Since avidly getting into weight-lifting, staying really flexible has only grown in importance to me. It’s pretty common for weight-lifters to pull muscles or have other health issues rooted in inflexibility. Thankfully, I’ve avoided all such problems and I largely credit my weekly yoga practice for that.
Just one Bikram yoga class per week is, in my opinion, sufficient for retaining the flexibility benefits that can be built up over the course of a dedicated practice. When I first started practicing Bikram yoga, I’d go 2-3 times per week. The results were simply extraordinary. In every posture my level of flexibility has grown beyond what I ever thought was possible when I first started. A simple example is sitting down with your legs extended and touching your toes. Before I started a Bikram practice, I couldn’t get my hands within six inches of my toes. Now I can put my full hand completely past my toes so that the palms of my hands are up against the bottom of my feet. And I’m still relatively “bad” at Bikram yoga; I see people doing things in there that just blow my mind.
On a final and unrelated note, I’ve been playing a ton of daily fantasy sports lately and decided to start a daily fantasy sports blog. With NBA All-Star weekend coming up, I should have a little more free time to dedicate to a proper launch of that blog. Eventually there will be site reviews of the daily fantasy sports operators on there with some tools that might be useful for fantasy sports participants. Right now, however, the site is bare which is why I bring it up: if you’re passionate about fantasy sports and are interested in being a contributor to the blog, I’d love for you to pitch what type of content you could bring to SalCaps. I can’t really pay you anything until/unless the site is making money but in the meantime it could be a fun opportunity to broadcast your fantasy sports knowledge in a space that should hopefully be receiving at least a few hundred visits per day in the not too distant future.
If interested, just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My life has lately been most occupied by activities connected to two rather similar acronyms.
I’ve successfully applied to a couple more MBA programs. The process has gotten a lot easier since the first time. What has really helped me with churning out applications I can be happy with in an expedient manner is remembering to just be myself.
I’m a pretty analytical guy and have a tendency to over-intellectualize things sometimes. For a while, I think I was letting this serve as a constraint to business school applications. I’d catch myself combing over every nuance of an essay or thinking too deeply about what applications strategies will heighten my chances of admission. I was even eyeing the MBA consultant market for a while thinking that maybe if I paid someone $300/hour they’d suddenly have all the magic answers for me. (Note: I don’t mean to suggest that MBA consultants can’t be of value to some people but I’m just not sure if their services would really be worth it to me; I’ve already invested a lot of time into this process and there might not be a lot they can say to me that I haven’t already heard or figured out).
I think the best thing I can really do is just be myself and talk about my life and career in my own way. If they like me, they like me. If they don’t, then it wasn’t meant to be I guess. This change in approach has made the whole process a lot less stressful and I’ve been pleased to see the rate of production pick up a bit for me with regards to applying to schools I’m targeting.
The other thing I’ve been avidly focusing on lately is daily fantasy basketball. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me talking about daily fantasy sports a fair amount. I’ve been playing a ton of daily fantasy basketball games lately on a couple upstart operations, DraftDay and DraftKings. It’s an interesting new industry and I’ve been having a blast checking it out.
The NBA is my favorite pro sports league and while it’s tough to top a good fantasy football sweat, I like basketball a lot better since there are games every day instead of just once a week. I’m trying to get up to the top of the all-time leaderboard for NBA on DraftDay. I’m already there for NFL but have a bit of catching up to do in NBA.
I think the daily fantasy sports industry is set to explode once people realize that it’s essentially a legal replacement for betting on sports. Betting on a sports game and making a one-day fantasy sports lineup aren’t quite the same thing, but there is some crossover appeal to them I think. I don’t know why any American would want to deal with the headache of going through some shady local bookie or nameless and faceless offshore Internet operator to make a sports bet. There’s so much uncertainty around those activities regarding if you’ll ever see the money you are owed that it just doesn’t seem worth the headache.
I don’t really buy into the moral arguments against betting on sports or playing fantasy sports contests for real-money. Some vast majority of participants have a responsible grip on the activity and are using a discretionary budget to make sports a little more entertaining. It’s sad to me that there are people out there who have gambling problems and are betting their kids’ lunch money on sporting events. But my philosophy is that self-destructive people will find a way to destroy their lives as they see fit. It’s more effective to treat the cause of these impulses rather than to create a culture of prohibition expecting that to eliminate destructive tendencies. I think the evidence is clear that approach doesn’t work and instead only produces unregulated black market activities and violence within the shadows of a nanny state.
Hopefully one day our bureaucrats will come to their senses about things like online poker and sports-betting. But in the meantime if you want to enjoy what is really the only interesting form of legal online gambling in the U.S., I recommend checking out daily fantasy sports games.
I’ve spent some time in the second half of this year focusing on business school applications. The most important part of these applications are the essays. Other aspects of the application cover old GPA scores, standardized test results, resume-speak, and other requests for information that make you feel like little more than a cell in a spreadsheet. The essays are generally the only part of a business school application where you get to tell your story in your own words. I want to share a couple of the things I’ve learned through this process as well as make what could be a pretty good offer for some people.
1. Start with an outline. Have a general idea of the main goals and points you hope to convey in your essay before you start writing it. This will be your guide throughout the essay. Create a list of some adjectives you would like admissions to remember you by and be sure to incorporate those words into your essays. They read hundreds of applications. Some personal “buzzwords” can help you be more memorable.
2. Be super, duper specific. The best piece of business school application writing strategy I’ve picked up in the last few months is to be as specific and descriptive as you possibly can. This is the piece of advice that was repeated to me by nearly every current business school student I’ve spoken with from a multitude of schools. The admissions staff at b-schools are looking for a clear, descriptive idea of who you are as an applicant.
Bad business school essay sentence:
After completing my MBA I hope to get a job in consulting.
Good business school essay sentence:
After completing my MBA, I intend to work for a small New York-based consulting firm where I will further expand my knowledge and understanding of business for 2-4 years before pursuing a role with a commerce start-up or launching one of my own.
Be specific, vivid and clear about where you are going in the future.
3. Don’t waste words. Most business school essays have a word limit of between 500-1,000 words. That’s not a lot. You’ve really got to budget your words wisely. This blog up to this point is already 370 words. Don’t waste valuable word count repeating things from your resume or making redundant statements like, “I believe an MBA can help me with my career.” Duh. That’s why you’re applying.
4. Write first, edit later. You can drive yourself nuts combing over every sentence of a business school essay. I don’t recommend doing this until after the essay is essentially completed. Otherwise you’ll waste all of your energy making the first few sentences perfect and never get the thing completed.
5. Give yourself lots of time and ask for help. There’s no room for pride in this process. Your essays very well may suck. Leave yourself plenty of room prior to application deadlines for your essay to be deconstructed with the help of a friend or mentor should it be necessary.
And on that note…
I’d like to make an offer for any readers of my blog who are currently or might one day apply to business school: I will read and critique your application essays for free. It’s much easier to complete a strong essay with input from an outside source. I’ve read essays of other applicants before and (I hope) was able to make some helpful edits and suggestions. I’m happy to do the same for you. You can pay an admissions consultant hundreds of dollars for this work or you can send me your essays and I’ll review them for free.