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The grind to Supernova Elite

I've been writing frequently in my posts about my goal of reaching Supernova Elite in 2013. Well, I did it! Here's a tweet I sent out shortly after I finally got there:

It was a pretty sick grind at the end. It was such a relief and a huge weight off of my shoulders after working the second half of the year to reach that 1 million VPP mark. I was really proud of it, too.

As I got near the end I knew I wanted to finish before Christmas so that I could spend the time with my family and friends and not have to stress about it or think about having even one more day that I would to grind to get there. Also my birthday is December 29th, so I knew I wanted to be done before the holidays.

I had planned my schedule pretty carefully all year, so I knew I could do it. That was the key to reaching Supernova Elite, I think -- planning a schedule and sticking to it.

I was just talking with Team PokerStars Pro Chris de Meulder who is thinking of trying for Supernova Elite this year, and the main piece of advice I had for him was to be smart about how he planned his schedule for playing.

I told him not just to start grinding and think just about how many VPPs you need to get in a month to keep pace. Rather the way to go is to plan your days off and your travel days, then figure out how many days you'll actually be playing and work out the average to know how many VPPs you need per day. If you don't account for those days off -- and you need to take some off, for sure -- you'll fall behind and before long you'll give up on it.

I found the whole process of planning and playing kind of fun, and in fact I'm already planning my schedule going forward for 2014. I've already worked out the first three months of the year, and I'm also planning not to play at the end of June and July so I can watch the World Cup. Creating a schedule like this makes you feel more like a professional which I think ultimately helps you play well, too.

Looking back on that last push near the end, two moments stand out.

There was a day when my mom came over to make food and I was completely tired. I had only slept about five hours, and I had decided I was going to take a break for a few days. I would get a long night's sleep, then the next day go out with some friends for drinks and to watch some indoor soccer. That was a Thursday, and my idea was I wouldn't play again until Sunday.

I went for a short walk outside to get some fresh air, then suddenly I thought to myself how if I did take that break of a few days I would be stuck needing about 20,000 more VPPs by the time Christmas arrived. This isn't going to work, I realized.

Screw sleep, I thought. I'm going to play.

I went and stocked up on food, snacks, and drinks, then sat down and played what turned out to be about a 50-hour session! I actually went from needing about 48,000 VPPs down to having just 12,000 VPPs to go.

That was December 22nd, and that's when I knew it was a lock that I would make it. I felt so good. I was sitting at the computer with a big smile on face was playing. I was so exhausted, but I was so happy.

I took Saturday off and then played again on Sunday, and it was that night I finally got to 1 million VPPs and the finish line. But I was so worn out when the congratulatory pop-up came on my screen I didn't even react or feel all that much. I was just like "Okay, cool," and I even played for three more hours.

So, no, actually getting there wasn't the other memorable moment. I finally signed off and went to bed and slept about three hours. Then I woke up, and that's when the other memorable moment happened.

As I rubbed my eyes open, I realized I felt completely relaxed. My mind was utterly blank except for one thought...

"Hey... I'm off today! I'm just going to watch TV all day long today, and it's fine!"

NEIL3776__PCA2014_Lex_Veldhuis_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Then I thought further how I was off the next day and Christmas was coming after that. And I thought about how I was just going to relax and enjoy having reached my goal.

Of course, the funny thing is once you achieve a goal like that, you immediately start thinking of the next goal. That's just how the brain works -- you get that endorphin release and that great feeling of being proud of something you've done, and immediately you want to give yourself a new challenge and try to feel that way again.

So like I say, I've already started to plan for the next Supernova Elite and in fact I'm ready to play again and work on that next goal. But for now I'm enjoying having achieved this one.

Lex Veldhuis is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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