From Tournaments to Cash Games by Eric Lynch

I’ve been taking a short break from tournaments lately after a pretty good Spring in which I finished second in the Six-Max Cubed Pot Limit Omaha event during the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). Poker tournaments are always a lot more fun when you’re winning and a whole lot less fun when you’re losing, but I try to be really cautious this time of year to help prevent me from becoming burnt out before the World Series of Poker (WSOP) even starts.

It’s definitely a mind shift for me when I bounce from tournaments to cash games. Cash games don’t have the excitement that tournaments do once you get deep, but you can start and stop them anytime you want, which is really convenient for me with my family. I can play for an hour or so then take a break and play outside with the kids, do some reading, do some writing for my book, or play Wii. If I have a couple of bad hands, I can just get up, go do something else, and come back with a fresh mind. Tournaments are a whole different ballgame. I have to be able to maintain focus for upwards of eight or more hours at a time if I make it deep. If I get a bad beat or recognize that I’m not playing my best, I can’t just get up and leave (unless I’m out), so I have to stay mentally tough and get through it without letting my play suffer too much. There is also the potential to play for nine or ten hours and only cash for three to four times my buy-in, which can often be mentally draining, as it can feel like an enormous waste of time to put that much into something and have nothing to show for it.

For all of the negatives I mentioned, though, nothing will ever match making a deep run in a huge online or live event. The feeling is unmatched and that’s what I live for (other than making money to support myself and my family). With that in mind, I’m pretty excited for things to start now and am getting more and more excited because of WSOP. I might feel differently in a week if I bust out of a bunch of events or run poorly, as the buy-ins can add up pretty quickly, but right now I’m pretty excited about it and historically I have done my best in the biggest events when my mindset is 100% right.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Pot Limit Omaha cash games as a change of pace. As a poker player who competes as much as I do, I have to do a lot of things to keep the game fresh so I don’t fall into a rut. Anytime we fall into a routine and let our game become stale, we will inevitably become worse poker players, not better. Poker is one of those games where it’s really tough to just stand still. You’re either getting better or getting worse. If you aren’t trying to improve your game and everyone around you is, they’ll get better and, in relation, you will get worse. I’ve found through the years that, on several occasions, my game has become stale. Sometimes playing other games and experimenting with new strategies help get me out of the rut and get my mind engaged again.

Don’t get me wrong; for the most part, I enjoy poker and still love the game or I would go back to being a software engineer or just take some time off. I’ve always approached poker with the mindset that if I stop enjoying the game and it starts to become a chore for me, I shouldn’t be playing anymore. I’ve witnessed too many players who have grinded themselves to the point of burnout and I don’t plan on being one of them! I’m actually most excited about playing some of the Pot Limit Omaha events especially now that I’ve had more success in that game and really feel like I can play it (at least in tournament format) at a very high level. I’m still working on my cash game Pot Limit Omaha, but I feel it’s progressing very nicely as well. I might even play in some of the Pot Limit Omaha cash games while I’m in Las Vegas. We’ll just see how things go first!

At the end of the day, I’m a competitive person. It’s the challenge of these large-scale events against the best players that really gets me excited about poker. My goal is to make myself a world-class poker player mentioned alongside any discussion of the best in the world. I may or may not ever get there, but if I keep reaching for that goal, I will only get better. As long as I can properly balance that with getting to watch my kids grow up, being a part of their lives, and not sacrificing being a great father and husband in the process, I’ll be very happy wherever things end up in the SCOOP, WSOP, or any other acronym you can throw out there.

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