While I only play poker as a casual hobby, I have always been fond of the blogging skills of top pro player Daniel Negreanu. You cannot exactly compare Yu-Gi-Oh to poker, for one the stakes between both simply cannot be compared, but you also cannot deny that there are similarities in the psychological aspect of each game. Anytime you have a few individuals competing over a game of strategy and skill, we can talk about game psychology. Now I am not going to talk about the art of bluffing or anything you would routinely attribute to poker, what I do have a topic I want to discuss today, and my inspiration came after reading a series of articles Daniel wrote about his personal life and poker tournament success. After reading his articles pertaining to the topic, I could not help but totally relate to his experiences. Seeing as how we discussed the methods of dealing with pressure last week, I thought it would only be appropriate to continue talking about topics like this.
Daniel's articles talked about a series of time periods in his life, and the correlation that rewarding relationships outside of the game had with his tournament success, and of course, situations where that did not exist. I feel like every reader out there can relate the moment I outline the situation that came to mind when I read Daniel's original article. Heading into YCS Toronto 2010, which was the last event where I fizzled out early and was still seeking my first YCS top, I was at the absolute end of a serious relationship I had from my senior year of high school into my freshman year of college. While we were officially "broken up" a ways before traveling to Toronto, within a few weeks of Toronto that developed into essentially not talking to one another. Long story short, Yu-Gi-Oh was not the first thing on my mind when I went to that event. I cannot tell you how miserable those rides up and down to Toronto were. Needless to say that event did not quite go my way, but it was most certainly not without a positive effect on my future game.
Daniel wrote an article entitled, "The Women that Broke Me." He spoke about a serious relationship he had that one way or another, caused him to take a serious hit to his bankroll. Not only was his personal life in turmoil, his profession was being negatively affected in an industry where that simply cannot happen. Now Yu-Gi-Oh players are not traveling around the country to make seven-figure salaries that are designed to be their primary source of income - this is not poker. But the psychological impact of "real life" on Yu-Gi-Oh can virtually be the same.
By the time YCS Dallas came in February of 2011, I had come to the realization that my previous relationship failed and did so for whatever reasons. She was not on my mind on my flight, not on my mind the week before, and perhaps my success at that event had something to do with it. But I really do not want to spend the majority of this article talking about the minor events of my life, that is not something enjoyable to read. What I think can be learned from these experiences is how exactly to deal with life when things are not going your way. It isn't like 2011 rolled along and I was jumping for joy each and every day, though I am a generally happy fella. There were events in 2011 that I attended with absolutely no outside factors on my mind, and also the opposite. But I think it is important to know how to handle both of these extremes in order to ensure you event each and every event without handicapping your potential performance.
I am not going to sit here and say I completely ignore what is going on back home when I attend a YCS, I have a phone, and I keep up with what is going on. But if there was a serious personal issue that arose around a YCS, I would most surely do my very best to ignore it to the best of my ability - if it was possible. There are obviously some issues which cannot be ignored, like family health issues, or personal emergencies. But if you can get away with not texting that girl that is playing hard to get, or checking up with your stressful job - why not? It is only going to cloud up your mind, and may play a role in a shaking YCS performance. I cannot be scientific about this, but I bet there are people reading right now who are screaming at the computer screen because they can relate to what I am talking about. Come on now, who is going to win a YCS the week they break up with their significant other? Unfortunately life just never seems to work out like that, subconsciously it just never seems to turn out like that, and our mindset is likely playing a serious role in that.
From my own experience, I have gone weekends without checking in on the things that I find troubling back home, and it has worked over the course of the last few years. Out of curiosity, have any of the readers shared a similar experience to what I have brought up today? Do you think you might have gone into an event with an improper mindset? or perhaps been able to perform well with a mind racing with negative thoughts? How do you handle these situations?