The slings and arrows of poker life

November 18, 2013

September was the coldest and rainiest September in Moscow for the last 100 years. It kept me inside more than I prefer, but it gave me a chance to recover from a knee injury I suffered earlier this year.

Part of what I love about the poker life so much is that it allows me to spend lots of time outside in some great European destinations. Back in March I was skiing when the injury occurred. It was strange – it wasn’t a straight injury. I felt the pain in my knee only about 30 hours after I had finished skiing, so at first I didn’t think it was anything serious.

By late April the pain still hadn’t gone away. After EPT Monte Carlo I decided to see a doctor and get a diagnosis. The doctor told me I ruptured my meniscus and that I needed surgery.

You can imagine that mid- to late-May is not a good time for a poker player to have surgery. I was frustrated. But what could I do? Going to the WSOP means long hours seated at poker tables and lots of walking around casinos. For both of those things I needed to fix my knee, so I scheduled the surgery and changed my flights to Las Vegas to arrive 10 days later than I initially planned.

I’d never had any kind of surgery before. It was quite an interesting experience – they put me to sleep for the surgery and then I had to undergo full rehabilitation after it was completed. When I arrived at the WSOP I could hardly walk.


Still recovering at the WSOP
That was especially problematic for me. I love being active but the knee pain – for months before the surgery and for two months after – was strong enough that I had to curtail my usual activities. As a result I gained 5 extra kilos.

I’m happy to say that my knee is back to 100% and that I’ve lost the extra weight, but I still haven’t been as active as I’d like. Lately I’ve been playing some very long cash game sessions in a night-time private game in Moscow – OFC, pineapple, and mixed games – and WCOOP also required me to log long sessions at my computer at night. Most of my daytime hours have been spent resting.

Those kinds of switches are a normal part of my life for the last 15 years, but they make it hard to stay healthy and active. At least modern poker tournaments are a little better about that. Ten or 12 years ago I was switching up my lifestyle every other week in order to try to balance out poker and spending time with my family.

One good thing I can say about the poker lifestyle is that I’ve never torn my meniscus playing poker.

Alex Kravchenko is a member of Team PokerStars Pro


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