(Frontpage photo: Joe Giron for PokerNews.com)
Last week we published an extended article based on Faraz Jaka’s recent Twitter rant. We spoke to the man who shared his views on the poker industry and why the financial priorities of many seem skewed. Last week’s article caused quite the stir and today we’re following up on that with some more from Jaka, who elaborates on a few more topics of interest.
One of the things Jaka thinks is a big factor in the skewed views on the poker economy is conditioning. We’re not talking about physical conditioning, but rather the psychological version of this word.
Conditioning is a behavioral process that makes it so that people like you, me and everyone else with the access to multimedia platforms, wants to buy a bigger TV each year, a new car and a new outfit on a regular basis. Studies have shown that human behavior can be learned, and Jaka thinks it’s time for people to be deconditioned when it comes to some of the things we’ve all picked up on with regards to poker players.
“It’s not like this is something new I've just discovered,” Jaka starts, “I have definitely been seeing the power of conditioning a lot more lately. There are a few reasons for it. First of all, I’ve been homeless for three years now. I haven’t had a TV for eight years and just being completely outside that society, it starts to hit you. We all know there’s conditioning and that people get swayed and manipulated, but seeing how powerful it is when you’re so far out of the bubble, is very insightful. Also, the trip I did to the monastery was very helpful, as they did a lot of deconditioning. I’m seeing the power of it more now, and that’s why I talk about it all the time.”
While Jaka has been learning about the power of conditioning, most other people have not. This is why the poker pro tries to explain to his peers that a different lifestyle is definitely possible, and it’s not something to be ashamed about.
“I’ve definitely tried to talk people out of it, just because I think that’s a big problem we have in this world. People spend and buy things they can’t afford. It maybe stimulates economies in the short run, but in the long run it hurts a city, a country and even a small thing such as the poker world. People get into debt, get into problems and it’s just not sustainable,” Jaka said.
The biggest contributor to this problem is the current society, which makes people believe that they need a lot of excessive things. Jaka advocates for the opposite, and emphasizes that social acceptance should not be your number one priority.
“People are too stuck on being socially accepted. You win a bunch of money in a tournament and after that people think that you need to stay in the fanciest hotel, living a certain lifestyle. People need to get that stuff out of their head and it’s good to see that it’s actually getting a lot better now. You do hear a lot more people talking about saving money and being smart with it. There’s a lot of talk nowadays that nobody has money anymore and that the economy is dry. It’s funny how people are a lot more comfortable now talking about this and living a much lower budget lifestyle.”
Photo credit: Manny Daxwell for PokerNews.com at the EPT London High Roller heads up.
Now that backing is one of the big things that keep many poker players afloat it’s also good to know what the effects of this are.
“For instance, saying that you’re backed is much more socially accepted nowadays. What I’m trying to say is, don’t wait for it to be socially accepted and do what’s right for you. A big thing I learned in the meditation retreat I went to, was to really hone in and focus on why you do and say and dress, every single second of the day. When you are buying something you just constantly have to ask yourself, am I buying this for myself or for other people to look a certain way? That’s a really hard thing to find out because a lot of the times you convince yourself that you’re doing it for yourself, but deep down inside you’re doing it for social acceptance. So it’s just a matter of being more aware of your thoughts and your actions,” Jaka said.
This raises a question, does the big buy in poker tournaments hurt the poker economy in the long run because it’s taking too big a of toll on the economy? Jaka does not have the answer for this question, but he thinks there is also some good in having these huge tournaments.
“I do know that tournaments with a very big buy in, like the $100k, attract businessman who can afford to play in these events. That’s good for the poker economy, but I don’t know how many there are that just put up 100% of the buy in. Maybe if I had a graph that showed me every single person that put up their own money, and if that number increases or not, that would help to gage if it’s good or bad for the poker economy. I don’t have a strong opinion on this subject and I’m not going to pretend like I do,” Jaka said.
The leaves us with one final thing, some tips from Jaka himself as he explains how he travels the world and the changes he’s made to sustain his life as a poker professional. In short, there are ways for poker players, but also for other travelers or just people looking to improve on their budgeting, to revise their spending habits and to become much more aware of them.
“When I first traveled for a year and a half after graduating I was doing a lot of EPTs. I was eating room service, booking flights last minute and taking taxis. That was driving up the cost real fast. Some of the adjustments I’ve made are, in general just being very organized,” Jaka starts with a little look into the way he used to do things.
“I now have an Excel worksheet where I have my travel schedule,” Jaka continued, “I plan about three-to-six months in advance and put all the tournament dates that I might go to in there. The earlier you can book your flights the more money you can save on that already.”
It's all about the money...
Jaka went into a little detail about which websites he uses to stay ahead of the curve.
“For example instead of booking hotels there are websites like AirBNB.com where you can rent full apartments for cheap. By having an apartment you can now go grocery shopping, and by staying close to public transport access you save yourself a lot of money. When you’re flying in the States, for instance, you can book with SouthWest.com and they have no change or cancel fees, even last minute. Sometimes you go to a tournament which is five days long, and beforehand you don’t know if you’re going to be there for one or five days. So in that case you book a flight back on Day 3 and on Day 5 and if you don’t need those you can just cancel them without a fee. That saves you a ton of money, because you’re paying as if you booked the flights way in advance. A lot of players get knocked out of a tournament and they want to go home right away. They end up booking a last-minute ticket and wasting $300, $400 or maybe $500 on that ticket. Think about doing that all year, it sure adds up quickly to over $10,000. Another thing people don’t do well is keeping track of their money. You should use a system, I use a website called Mint.com where you can put all your credit, debit cards and accounts into. This website categorizes all your spending and shows where you spend money on, like restaurants, hotels, flights and this helps you see where your money goes. You can also put budgets on there, and sometimes I mention this to people and they tell me that they don’t want to see that information.”
It's good to know Jaka is not telling people to completely stop spending their money, just to be a little smarter with it.
“I’m not saying “don’t’ do any fun stuff and have no luxury,” but try to pick and choose where you do it. You don’t have to do it in every single aspect of your life, but decide which things are more important to you and bring your life more utility. It’s fun to relax sometimes and not have to be careful with your money. Splurging a little is not bad, but do it on occasions for things you really enjoy. A lot of poker players don’t want to know how much they spend on traveling and such. They say that they hate seeing that number, but to me that’s very silly. Let’s say you have a problem with your wife, and you know that there’s a problem. Instead of dealing with it you’re just going to go to the bar and drink, but that’s clearly the worst thing you can do. It’s the same with managing your money and any sort of problem. You don’t want to ignore things and block them out. You need to face them, otherwise you’re just going to elongate the problem and it’s going to hit you harder in the future,” Jaka closed out with.
The discussion about this hot topic in the poker world will definitely continue on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to mention us in your comments. From the @iGamingOrg Twitter we will join this discussion. You can find Faraz Jaka's Twitter page right here.