Sleep Is For The Rich

"Sleep is for broke people," I said disdainfully, after my girlfriend gave me a hard time for sleeping three hours the night before.

"Who said that?" she asked, detecting the intonation I use when I’m quoting someone.

"Fitty Cent," I said with a smile.

"You know he’s broke right?" she asked incredulously.

Surprised, I pulled up a HipHopDX article. Huh. It seems he is broke.

In my defense, the approximately hundred million US dollars he got from Vitamin Water probably should have lasted him a little longer.

That aside, this amusing exchange seemed befitting of the lessons I have been teaching recently.

I am not one of these guys who is going to tell you that you need eight hours of sleep. One of the fittest and most successful guys I know sleeps six hours a night, and he seems just fine. I have used a six-hour sleep schedule during large swaths of my career to gain an edge.

That said, there is an art to managing your sleep hygiene in regards to poker, and it is rarely discussed.

When my students tell me they don’t have enough time to make it in poker I usually tell them, "you just don’t want to take the pain."

While everyone else was preparing for their four-year paid vacation after high school, I was working 110+ hour weeks as a commercial fisherman in Alaska to pay for a garage I rented. You can bite my ass if you think you’re going to get my sympathy.

When I got home from Alaska, I started a new schedule: I worked eight hours as a security guard,  worked out for an hour, showered, and played poker for 8-10 hours a night. I slept five to six hours a night.

"But I have kids and people who depend on me!" you might be saying.

Yeah, buddy. That’s called being an adult male. It doesn’t make you or I special. It certainly isn’t an excuse. For the record, too, my mom has been disabled since I was in high school. I did all this while supporting her.

Did I do anything I described above because I wanted to? No. I hated every minute of it. I hated losing girlfriends and my sanity to this system. I hated repeatedly experiencing failure while everyone else was partying or watching Dexter. I hated finding out that I was dumb as a box of rocks, and everybody was better than me at poker.

But the point remains: If you want to make it in poker, or anything, you’re going to have to work harder than pretty much anyone. And there’s still only 24 hours in a day.

If you sleep six hours instead of eight, you will add 10 hours to your week days. If you apply those all to poker that’s an extra 520 hours a year. That’s 13 working weeks a year for poker, otherwise known as three months. And this assumes you never play poker at any other time. You just spend eight hours after work watching ESPN. Every weekend you go play Croquet.

Now, there’s an art to playing when you’re a little tired.

You’ll likely be pairing this time with a few other hours in your evening, to create a new part-time job. During a longer session after a tiring day, you want to make sure you’re playing games you know like the back of your hand. No shot taking. I’d always play low-stakes cash and SNGs when I did this reduced sleep schedule. I’d never go into bigger tournaments.

You want to make sure you’re exercising too. Many studies have shown you will do much better with less sleep if you’re working out and eating healthier while you do it.

It’s not brain surgery. Vegetables are still the best thing in the world for you. Water is still something your body needs. Meal prep is a thing.

Honestly, if you want to save time here, I’d just spiralize 30 zucchinis at the beginning of the week, make a vat of marinara sauce, cook up any protein you want to throw in there, and put everything into 20 different Tupperware containers. It will cost pennies compared to take out, and it will save you untold hours from decision making and having to make meal runs.

It sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many pros I’ve seen experience a little success, start ordering delivery service every night, and then become frustrated fattened pros within a few months…all while spending untold hundreds a week.

Hell, I was one of those pros. That’s why I still make the vats of tomato sauce and zoodles. It’s boring, sure. It’s also grossly efficient.

You remove the hour you spend wandering the city for food or cooking, then you have another hour. Add that to the two you have from your new sleeping schedule. Now you have three hours a night. 15 hours a working week. 780 hours a year. That’s nearly five months of working 40-hour weeks on this poker problem.

If this sounds too intense to you, I don’t blame you. Most people should close this article right now.

But if you want to get out of the middle class, then I believe you have to hustle. You can sleep when you’re rich.

And that’s why I am going to say this final thing: If you can get away with not sleeping six hours a night, I’d highly recommend it.

If you can come home from work, spend three hours with your family, then go play or study for two hours…then you will be committing 13 working weeks a year to poker, your side hustle. If you imagine taking a three-month sabbatical every single year to tackle poker, you’d probably feel as if that was a ton of time. That’s available to you every year if you’re disciplined.

You can easily wake up at 8:00, get to work by 9:00, work till 5:00, get home at 6:00, spend three hours of quality time with your family cooking dinner or talking while playing a game, and then study/play poker from 9:00 to 11:00, then spend 11:00 to 12:00 with your significant other. Then, boom, eight hours of sleep. If you want an hour to work out, you can wake up at 7:00 and get seven hours of sleep, which has never killed anyone.

I have abused my sleep cycles more than anyone I have ever met. I literally have never met another person who has pulled more all-nighters than I have. I was sleeping three hours a night to get my recent training product off the ground.

And I can tell you, 100%, the quality of life around not sleeping is so horrible that it’s almost not worth it.

There are many ways to be wealthy. Many who have money do not have time or their health. If you have some money, and the ability to get a full night’s rest, then you are richer than you know.

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