Schedule? What schedule?
It's tough to be a live-plus-online pro in Asia.
Unlike Europe, which has lots of live events fairly close together and friendly online tournament times, Asian live tournaments are far-flung and major online tournaments start in the middle of the night. Since the start of the year from Singapore to Macau, Shanghai, and Perth before heading back to Singapore for a week. Then I was in Korea for two weeks. After two weeks in Korea I went straight to Sydney for a week, then Singapore for 5 days, and then back to Melbourne for another two weeks.
I know that sounds glamorous. And I do count my blessings often. I find myself fortunate to be in a new city every month or every week rather than being stuck in a cubicle for a few years at a time. It's all about balance, knowing where your place is and counting your blessings.
But dealing with all those different time zones, and different starting times in each time zone, can be very tiring. For example, in Australia it's really common to start a tournament at noon but in a place like Macau it's common to start at 6pm or 8pm. At home in Singapore, the big online tournaments like the Sunday Warm-up and the Sunday Million start at 1am and 430am.
It's tough to make a schedule out of all of this. It was easier when I was in my early 20s. Now I think, "I'm flying to Melbourne in a week, I should start preparing for the time there." I'll check the schedule and see that all the days start at noon local time, which is 10am in Singapore. I'll start waking up in Singapore as if I'm already in the Melbourne time zone. I try to make sure I get my sleep and don't eat too much at night.
There's even a strange diet tip that suggests you should starve yourself for 12 hours before you arrive in your new time zone. That's really extreme but I've found it to be very useful.
Jumping from an 8pm schedule to a 12pm schedule to a 430am schedule is mostly about preparation. The good thing is that if I get really tired, I just give online a miss. Online will always be online, but live events are much more infrequent. They require the most preparation.
I try to arrive to a new city at least three days before the Main Event in that city. I play as much of the side events and satellites as possible in order to get used to the surrounding and the time. My first few days I might be ready to fall asleep at the tables but I try to power through it. And if I bust early - say I know in the coming days that the Main Event is going to be 12pm-10pm and I bust from a satellite at 4pm - I'll play online for a while, just to make sure I won't feel sleepy the next few days.
That doesn't always work though. When the going really gets tough, I try to find a couple of friends to go for a nice lunch or nice dinner. That's the great thing about live poker. You actually get to see people, catch up, and find out what's going on with them.
There are pros and cons of travelling. I've been doing this for five years and I think the grass is always greener on the other side. But there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I treat poker just like a job, but this job takes me far away from home for weeks at a time. Many jobs do that, but I have the choice whether I want to go to these events or not.
I like it quite a bit, even if the varied hours sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
Bryan Huang is a member of Team PokerStars Pro