Lee Davy continues his confessions series with a trip down memory lane as he recalls his association with the magazine Poker Pro Europe.
All anybody ever wants is a chance.
But it’s not always that easy.
Getting in front of the right people is as important, if not more so, than the work you actually put into developing whatever skill you are trying to sell.
Luck is also a factor.
There is also a timing issue that is very important. In the book SmartCuts by Shane Snow, the author talks about a phenomenon known as Catching the Wave. You have to be in the right spot, at the right time, and although that involves a high degree of skill and intuitiveness, there is also a whole lot of luck.
The reason I am able to sit down at my kitchen table and write this, and be paid for it, rather than head into the Steelworks and try to operate 20-trains per day with only 10-locomotives, is because I got my chance, and I made sure that I caught the right wave.
Poker Pro Europe magazine is dead.
“It’s been a good run for six years but the mag (and the poker economy) has never recovered from the loss of advertising created by the government crackdown on online poker sites in 2011. See you all down the road. Poker will never die.” Wrote the magazine’s Editor John Wenzel.
John Wenzel gave me my chance. He doesn’t know this, but for a brief moment he made me believe that anything was possible. I had read so many books from writers; each telling me that I should expect an Amazonian rainforest worth of rejection slips before someone took notice, that I told myself this was going to hard. Wenzel made it feel easy. He gave me belief, spirit and determination.
On Sat, July 18, 2009, at 9.20am, I sent an e-mail to five Editors asking them to read a pre-written pitch selling my personal story as a column idea. I was expecting to do this every day until someone eventually caved in and offered me a deal.
On Mon, July 20, 2009, at 2.45pm, I received this reply from John Wenzel.
“I love the column idea! I definitely could use something on a monthly basis from you, as long as it was exclusive to us. It is not something we can pay you for, but we could include a photo of you along with anything you would like to promote, such as your blog, etc.”
I was in the water.
All I had to do next was to catch my wave.
I worked for many months without financial recompense. And even when I started to get paid from other poker organizations, I still couldn’t bring myself to stop writing my monthly column for the longest of times. The Valleys to Vegas column was the foundation of my writing life. It remains some of the happiest writing times of my life, and the freedom of expression that John gave me was of paramount importance.
There seemed to be a lot of movement in the poker community when I arrived in 2009. I could sense it. I brought a new perspective with me. I could see the waves coming, and there were a lot of people in the same water as me that didn’t. They had simply been in the same spot for so long, they weren’t quick enough to react.
This brings me to another important point in the SmartCuts book, and that’s one of Momentum. Once you catch the wave you need to keep moving. That means living life to the fullest, in the moment, but also having one eye on the future. It’s all about anticipation. Spend time assessing risk, eye up your competition, and figure out how you can pass them by.
I don’t think Poker Pro Europe did that as well as some of their competitors. In the end this is what effectively killed the dream. 2011 hit everyone in the poker hard, but it was a hotbed of opportunity also.
How do you know when you don’t have momentum?
You just know.
When it happens to me I feel sad. That sadness comes from a lack of growth and contribution. I start to relax on my bed of certainty and I feel sterile, languid and limp.
When Wenzel said YES I had momentum. My goal was to become a life coach via a career through poker. Wenzel gave me the belief that I could do it. I threw my gall bladder, ribs and pituitary gland into everything I did. I worked harder than anyone I knew. I tried to outthink my competition. I was flying.
I don’t feel like that anymore.
I feel like a contestant on the 1990s TV show The Gladiators. I am in the middle of the high rings and I don’t have the ability to swing to the next link. I am stuck, and any minute now I am going to get squashed by some huge muscle head.
The feeling of familiarity does this to you. I think there is a part of human consciousness that likes this state. I think I am quite good at what I do now. In 2009, I didn’t think I was good at all. Back then I was at the bottom of the ladder, and I was desperate to get to the top. I seem to be comfortable on this rung.
It’s time to hop on to another ladder.
John Wenzel gave me a lot of sound advice at a time when I needed it the most. He also massaged my ego by pointing out my strengths, and progress as a writer. This was also important. But the thing that I will always love him for. The one thing that I take away from our relationship. It’s the space he gave me to write without fear of judgment. He never quashed my creativity, and this allowed my pen to fly all over the place. Without that space, none of this would have been any fun.
There was one more piece of advice he gave me though. It was in the form of an e-mail.
“I don’t mind slang, but we don’t use the word fuck. You can use f—k if you want.” Wrote Wenzel.
Thanks for everything John.
You’re a f—ing star.