I don't really believe in new year's resolutions. For me if you want to quit smoking or lose weight, you should just do it and not necessarily look to the calendar to prompt you to make a change. That said, now that we're already more than a month into the year, I am kind of thinking of 2013 as a chance to continue some things I began at the end of 2012.
After traveling a lot for the last few years, I had gotten away from being the "grinder"-type player I had been before -- that is, someone who puts in lots of hours on a regular schedule grinding away. But starting in December I began putting in a lot of time learning PLO, and now I've gotten that hunger again for grinding for, say, eight hours every day, for several days or even weeks in a row.
So I plan to continue that in the new year. I want to get to where, let's say I travel from Holland to Canada, I can arrive, quickly get to grinding eight hours a day for several days, then make another trip. I want to get back to a point where I really can have something like an "on/off" switch where I can grind full days in between trips without having too much down time beforehand.
Before the end of last year, I'd often get home from a trip and it would take as much as a week or so before I'd be able to return to grinding. First I'd be jet-lagged and wouldn't feel like playing. Then I'd go out and would have a hangover and wouldn't play. Then I'd want to play tennis and so on. All sorts of things would be getting in the way of my getting back on schedule.
But as I say, I started back on a more disciplined schedule during the last weeks of 2012, and I'm planning to continue that going forward in the new year.
One helpful strategy I've found helps me get back into the eight-hour-a-day grind is to play a shorter schedule the first day I return from a trip -- say just play three or four hours rather than a full day -- and kind of recharge myself before getting back to the regular grind.
Also, whenever I finish a session I write up a summary report highlighting the biggest pots and including pointers to consider, and so when I begin the next session I first read that report. In fact it will often be 45 minutes or an hour before I actually start my session, as I'll spend that time reviewing first.
I didn't use to have this problem. In the past, I could play online for a few hours during any break in the day and never really had bother with "warming up" first. But now I recognize it's something I need to do, kind of like an athlete who after several years of playing perhaps needs to start stretching more before going full out.
So while I don't necessarily believe in resolutions based on the calendar turning over, I do think you can resolve to be more disciplined and establish good routines to help you succeed. And so that's my plan going forward.
Lex Veldhuis is a member of Team PokerStars Pro