Challenge,  Fun Stuff

Poker Tournament Update

The Practice Went Well…

A decent small tournament that started with four tables (about forty people). It took me a couple of rounds to get settled in and some routines back in place. Felt like I was learning how to walk again. Very weird feeling.

But after about an hour, I had a lot of chips and was getting the routines back. And doing a few new ones that are better for the long run.

Enough people had been knocked out that we broke to three tables after two hours and then two tables left after three hours. At that point it becomes the middle part of a tournament and I worked on my middle game, taking pots when they were offered and staying away from danger.

At four hours I made the final table. And I had enough chips that I could just sort of wait and watch almost all hands. I think I played two, pulling blinds mostly. The goal in that stage is to not get knocked out on the bubble, which is the poor player that has to walk away without money while everyone left at the table is now in the money.

And an hour later I was in the top seven and in the money. That is the stage of a tournament when you need to play well, but the amount of money is so much on the table, you also have to be lucky. My rule in that final part of the tournament is always get your money in with the best hand and try to win the thing.

My final hand was AK against A7. I had the AK going in. Turn spiked a 7 and I was gone, but still made some really nice money. Great practice as well.

Sometimes in writing the same thing happens. You have fun in a practice session and then also make great money while practicing. I love that about both poker and fiction writing.

Sadly, most writers don’t know how to practice or have fun with their writing. Or even think they need to do either one.


If I have missed an email from you tonight or yesterday, please give me to Saturday to respond. I will have my big computer set up in Vegas on Saturday and will get everything caught up. Thanks!


  • Harvey

    It’s not only practice, but persistence in practice and doing what works for the individual.

    My own version of practice seems to run in cycles. For the first couple of years I was writing fiction, I had a daily word count goal, 3000 words per day. For me, with breaks, that’s about 4 hours. I hit it most days, exceeded it often. When I missed, it was all right because the goal reset the next morning anyway. I wrote about 800,000 words of fiction each of those years.

    But once I settled into an easy rhythm with my writing, I thought I no longer needed the daily goal. I was writing 11-12 novels per year either way. And I started reading advice from other pros I respect who advised taking a day or two “off” every week, etc. So I dropped my daily goal.

    Bad idea. My practice lapsed.

    Now, as we near the midpoint of this year, I’ve written only 225,000 words of new fiction and just under 300,000 words of fiction and nonfiction. It’s time to adjust and reinstitute my daily goal. I’m going back to the basics: get to the keyboard every day in the company of a character with a problem in a setting.

    A new year begins with each day. I’m not tied to the Jan 1 – Dec 31 time frame, but I do like to begin new things on the first day of a month. So beginning July 1, I’m setting a daily word count goal again.

    It’s true that having a daily goal creates a little pressure, but it’s only pressure to get to the keyboard. After that it’s all fun.

    • dwsmith

      I love the silliness of taking a day or so off of writing a week as if writing was actually hard and work. Wow. To think you must take time off, you must consider writing hard and work, and thus the doom is written on the wall. But if it is great fun, a place to go play, why take time away from that?

      One of the great myths of writing.

  • Ashley R Pollard

    I’ve been through a rough patch. Self inflicted, as in restructuring a novel because confidence in my craft is still a thing. Self doubt. However, I’m getting there, slowly perhaps, but surely.

    Currently alternating my writing between two projects. When I get stuck on one I move to the other. So far this has been working for me, but I’m sure other pratfalls await me in the future.

    It takes confidence to accept one not only enjoys writing, but that others will not laugh at you for trying, and if they do “so what?”

    • dwsmith

      Ashley, yup, self-inflicted. Time to move on and get the fun back in the writing.

      Dare to be bad. Takes a lot more confidence and courage to write and release than it does to rewrite and never release.

  • mickie dreysen

    Hi, Dean, it sounds like a lot of fun! Here’s a question that I’d been wondering about for a while, given how much you enjoy watching The Voice: Do the poker tournaments (or for that matter, golf) on TV give you anything like the learning experience you’ve shared with us from The Voice, or from the master class video you mentioned?

    Or does the editing for the little screen torture the things you’d get sitting at the table yourself? Assuming you watch any of them, of course.

    • dwsmith

      Oh, sure. Daniel in the master class on poker says he is always watching “film” of how other players do something. Same with golf if your focus is to be a better player. All sports use film and watching others. Absolutely. Again, it is only writers who seldom study other writers or practice.

      • mickie dreysen

        Cool. Which means you’ll have to let us know when you make the World Series of Poker cameras. That way we’ll know when to tune in to heckle (I’m kidding of course), er, I mean cheer you on from the cheap seats.

        • dwsmith

          Haven’t played in the World Series in about a decade. Might give it a try in the next year or two again.