Rant: Smoking is Killing You and Your Poker EV

Cigarette
Sneaking out for a puff between hands? You're killing your EV.

I quit smoking when my son was born 13 years ago.

I tried, and failed, on many occasions but once I had become a role model I had to get it right.

Everybody knows that smoking kills. It’s not a secret anymore.

When you have a child everything changes. You find a reason to extend your life. Every minute matters.

Every cigarette eats away at time. This time it was different. I said I would never smoke again, and I didn’t.

Smoking Offers Zero Benefits

Jim Meehan
You can't smoke at the tables anymore. And there's a good reason for that.

A decade later I would quit drinking alcohol. That decision, like the one 10 years prior, changed my life. Only this time was different.

I wanted to change the world. I wanted to help everybody who was addicted to alcohol to quit

But what about smoking? Isn’t smoking more dangerous than alcohol?

I decide to focus on alcohol because I thought the world was coming to grips with smoking.

It’s more difficult to find a location that allows you to smoke than one that doesn’t. Smokers are looked upon as pariahs. It’s an embarrassment.

I assumed this meant people had started to wake up to the madness. They had started to smell the nicotine. Then I flew outside the borders of the UK and I experienced new parts of the world.

Suddenly I realized that smoking is a real problem. People still believe that it offers them a wide range of benefits. They are trapped. They don’t understand the simple truth: Smoking offers zero benefits.

It's the Cigarette That Causes the Stress

In the run up to the final table at the just completed WPT Merit Classic in Cyprus there was a player who couldn’t sit at the table for a prolonged period of time.

He had to leave to smoke a cigarette in between hands.

Imagine turning up for a major event - sporting or personal - and feeling nervous, irritable, agitated and lacking in confidence? It’s not the best way to prepare for your big day, right?

This is what smokers do when they play poker.

Fast Asleep
Smoking does little to keep you awake at the tables.

Take this one gentlemen for example. Was he spending his time considering spots where he could three-bet an opponent? Or was he finding spots where he could nip out and take a few drags of a cigarette?

And what exactly is so important about those few drags? I watched the guy walk away from the table and smoke. He never finished a full cigarette.

Just a few hits and then he returned back to the table. One can imagine that those few drags help reduce his levels of stress.

I smoked 20 cigarettes a day for many years and I can tell you that I never got any supercharged buzz. No ecstasy-type high. And it did very little to stimulate me and keep me awake.

Nope, this guy was taking a few hits to reduce stress. Now here’s the trap. It’s the cigarette that causes the stress.

How Long Does That Rush Last?

The need, the want, the desire.

I MUST HAVE A DRAG!

Then he inhales, the nicotine rush kicks in and the stress is removed. But how long does that rush last? It’s not long is it? And soon you want another drag, and another, and another.

You are in a cycle of despair and the only way out is to stop.

“But I can’t stand the withdrawal pangs.”

Chip Stacks at Dinner Break in 50K
You're not helping your poker. And you're killing yourself.

That’s bullshit. Lock yourself in a cabin in the woods for a prolonged period of time with no access to cigarettes and report back on the terrible withdrawal pangs.

That’s right. There aren’t any.

You may die of boredom but you won’t feel any withdrawal pangs.

For those that smoke because of boredom, how exactly does smoking cure it? If it cured boredom we'd be telling our kids to smoke in the back of the car on long trips to see Grandma.

You're Not Concentrating on Poker

Remember this when you're worrying about a spot to smoke.

When you can’t wait for the break so you can dive into the pack.

You are not concentrating on your poker.

And…

You are also killing yourself.

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