In search of balance

I need more balance in my life.

I'm home in Florida now after an intense, month-long poker trip in Europe. The trip itself was great, but sometimes these long stints on the road can be physically, mentally and spiritually draining.

"Guy gets to spend a month in Europe playing poker and he's tired," you might be thinking.

I'm not asking for your sympathy. I live a blessed life, and I'm grateful for every opportunity. But when I walked through my front door, dropped my suitcase, and plopped onto the couch, this one thought kept resonating: I need more balance in my life.


I have an intense personality and usually become engulfed in the activities I pursue. When I was three or four years old, I was so hooked to my video games that my parents would have to set limits on my Nintendo action. Otherwise, I'd play for eight straight hours, easy. Almost 25 years later I'm doing the same thing with poker, only my parents aren't always around to keep me in check. It's not uncommon for me to play a 40-hour session, or at least it wasn't until I came to an important conclusion: extremes aren't healthy.

People always harp about moderation with everything--food, alcohol, partying, etc. It's such an amazing concept when you think about it, but until recently it was totally foreign to me. On the road it's poker, sleep, poker, sleep, poker, sleep. Then when I come home, I try to distance myself from poker so much that I shift to other extremes.

Basketball is a good example. I'll play three to four times a day for hours on end just trying to decompress, not realizing that I'm just going from one extreme to another. The common denominator? No balance.


Since the WSOP I've been searching for a way to modify this all-or-nothing lifestyle. I've been thinking about my faith. Before you stop reading, I know that religion is a polarizing issue. I'm not here to preach to you. I've long struggled with my own faith. I'm a poker player after all, and logic is our bread and butter. Faith, by definition, is "a firm belief in something for which there is no proof." I have that faith, and while it's been challenged at times, it's been a perfect starting point in my search for balance.

I made a real point to stay in touch with my family during this most recent trip, something I probably failed to do or wished I'd done more often while on the road. Talking with my family always provides an instant boost in morale. It's like that feeling you get when playing a long session and things aren't going as planned and suddenly you win that one pot that turns everything around. It's game-changing. For me, family and faith are instant medicine for times when poker starts to consume my life and imbalance sets in.


I came home from Europe knowing that some things need to change. I'm launching a business in December (more on that in a future blog post), my nephew is starting to talk, I'm writing more, and the holidays are coming up. There's so much going on that I decided to force a mini-break from poker and focus on other aspects of my life until the PCA. Two months might not seem like a long time, but it's the longest break I'll have taken from the game since I starting playing ten years ago. Gotta start somewhere, right?

I owe a lot to this game. It's afforded me hundreds of opportunities and opened doors I wouldn't have otherwise had access to. I love playing poker, and it will always be a part of who I am, but I need more balance in my life. It's time to go and get it.

Jason Mercier is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Jason Mercier
@PokerStars in Jason Mercier