Over the last month I've been playing the high-stakes mixed games on PokerStars. After many months of not finding anyone playing above $50/$100 in the 2-7 section, the action came back all of a sudden. Games at the $500/$1,000 and $1,000/$2,000 level are coming together regularly and I'm happy I can play my favorite variations from time to time at bigger stakes.
I've also just finished bottling the first batch of beer I brewed myself. I've always liked to learn how to make things on my own and I thought, why not try to make beer? As I always do, I read everything I could online about beer-making, bought a few books, and taught myself the process. My girlfriend was not amused when I told her I was going to move a 30-liter keg into the kitchen to brew the beer, but once she tried the finished product and saw how delicious it was, she was really happy.
I decided to make ale for my first batch because the temperature here right now is good for fermenting that kind of beer. I've already filled up ten bottles with the ale and over the next week I'm going to try out some different stuff and learn how to make it taste even better before bottling the rest. I hope to make some different kinds of beer as well. In fact, the first thing my girlfriend said when she tasted the ale was "So, when are you going to make a lager?"
I've also found that brewing beer helps me to relax, especially now that I'm playing more high-stakes cash games. Playing every day is really tough, especially when the sums are so high. You get angry when things are not going well and you get excited when you're winning, so it can be very mentally draining. Doing other random stuff like making beer and watching it ferment helps me keep the balance.
Basketball also helps me take my mind off poker. The NBA season just started and I'm in a 12-player fantasy league. Two of the players in my league are basketball commentators for German TV, so I have some experts to contend with. It's a really interesting league and everyone tries really hard. There are a lot of bragging rights involved--we have a lot of side bets going and make fun of each other over it for a really long time. I actually became interested in the NBA through Dirk Nowitzki, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks. I met him a long time ago in Germany. When I was about 14, I played chess in a national program and every few months, we trained for a week at a big sports complex alongside all the other sports teams. During the summer break Dirk Nowitzki was there, running his basketball school. He was so huge- I was scared of him! But when I finally got to watch him play, I was mesmerized. I got to sit right on the floor and it was truly amazing to watch him up close. From there, I was hooked on basketball.
So, wish me luck on my fantasy games! I was able to pick up Kevin Durant in our draft, and have my fingers crossed for Andre Kirilenko as well as my favorite team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
George Danzer is a member of Team PokerStars Pro