The road family
The tour is cranking back up again, with the stops in the Isle of Man and London and then more after that. One thing I've come to realize when traveling to the various UKIPT and EPT events is that while I love being independent and getting to follow my own schedule (for the most part), I also very much like seeing a lot of the same people and kind of reuniting over and again with my poker "family" at each different stop.
It's nice when on tour to see the de Meulder brothers and Jake Cody and his family and play tennis with Vanessa Selbst and so on. Lex (Raszi) Veldhuis has made my life on tour like home, cause he's my homey, and I miss him a lot now that he's with Team Online!
Seeing the same people makes the road like a home away from home, in a way, especially when we get to do a lot of activities together away from the tables. The Isle of Man stop especially is like "home" with all of the PokerStars staff there and others and various activities planned for everyone.
The poker life kind of strikes a perfect balance for me between being independent (which I love) and the sense of community and camaraderie that comes from doing things alongside the same group of people as in a work environment.
I've been noticing that lately because I've been doing some PR work related to the TV series Bluf which I've mentioned here before, which is fun but often requires me to follow schedules set by others. I've also been working with a show ever since EPT Barcelona for Sport 1 (the sports channel in the Netherlands), where I'm behind a desk anchoring a sports highlight program. The show is every weekend and we cover all different sports, and it's been great fun doing it so far and having a team of colleagues over there with whom to work.
Again, though, that's something where the schedule is being set for me, and while I can go away and miss shows to play poker, it isn't quite the same as being totally independent.
It's funny because for pretty much all of my pre-poker life I was always part of a team. Two teams, actually -- my club team and the national team. When I played field hockey I was always constantly surrounded by my teammates which in some respects gave me a sense of security. My schedule was completely set for me, too, for the entire year, which is something I got very used to. But then afterwards I felt very liberated once I was able to strike out on my own.
That might be part of why I like my independence so much now, but part of me also still feels that need to be part of a team sometimes. So I relish being part of the team of friends playing poker at all the stops, and of course my fellow Team PokerStars Pros are such wonderful people it's great to be with them. And I also like working with my colleagues at Sport 1 and also on with the Bluf show -- those are all my "teams" now, too.
It's different now, of course, because I get to feel that security of being surrounded by friends and colleagues and being part of a group, but for the most part I get to pick when and where I am going to go be part of those "teams," so to speak. Sure, the various schedules aren't all entirely in my control. But I do have a lot more freedom now to choose when and where I'll be and what I'll be doing.
Poker is such an independent pursuit, and in a lot of ways you're necessarily going to be entirely on your own whenever you play. But it's good, too, to feel like you're part of a community or group of people with similar interests and goals, who are supportive of each other.
Fatima Moreira de Melo is a PokerStars SportStar