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Out of the Limelight

by Eugene Katchalov |  Published: Sep 30, '14


As most of you probably know by now, I was invited to be part of a reality show in Ukraine this summer, a version of The Mole. 

The show has been around for a long time in a number of different countries.  There was a version in the U.S. for a while – in fact Anderson Cooper was the original host of that show, way back before he went on CNN.  It’s a pretty interesting idea for a show and it was definitely quite an experience to be part of it.

One of the things that surprised me after doing the show was how difficult it was to acclimate myself back to regular life afterwards.  When I was on the show, we were all completely isolated from the outside world – no cell phones, no computers, no money, even.  We couldn’t communicate with anyone from outside the show at all, and so we were all disconnected entirely.

If you think about it – in today’s world — that’s quite a change not to be able to get online or check your phone or anything like that.  That was my biggest fear going in, thinking I’d go through withdrawal from being connected all the time.

As it turned out, it wasn’t that bad.  It was definitely boring at times, but I got used to it pretty quickly.  It could be weird sometimes thinking how I had no idea what was going on, say, at the World Series of Poker (which took place then).  I’m someone who also follows current events a lot — I’m kind of a news junkie — so it was certainly unusual not knowing anything about what was happening on the outside.

I could only talk with the other contestants and the TV crew, which was a large group of people (over 100).  One interesting side effect of spending that much time with the same people was the fact that we couldn’t help but become close.  It was just a month, but it felt like a year since we got to know each other so well and had no one else to talk to.  It was almost like they became like family, although of course they never were quite that because we were on a show competing each other and therefore couldn’t fully trust one another.

So the transition into that world turned out not to be that hard.  But coming back out and returning to “normal” life ended up being more challenging than I’d expected. 

Once the show was done and I’d gotten back home, I realized I kind of missed a lot of what I’d gotten used to during that month.  Everything is kind of controlled for you, so you don’t have to think too much about day-to-day worries — basically all I had to think about was the game.  But after it was done, I was suddenly free to do anything.  It was very weird for the first four or five days.  It was almost like I missed the world of the show.  I’d wake up in the morning and for the first minute or two think I was still on it.  And I realized I missed the people on the show, too.  It was all kind of strange, and unexpected.

Eugene_Katchalov EPT8BAR

That was right around the time the WSOP Main Event was starting, and I’d even thought at one point I might still try to play it.  But I was still in that transition period and to be honest wasn’t in the mood or condition to play.  For about a month I hadn’t really thought about poker much at all — my head was still in the game, but for the first time in my life I didn’t really want to play poker, not just yet.  So I decided against playing the WSOP.

Eventually that strange feeling passed and before long it was back to normal for me.  I did learn from the experience that it’s certainly possible to live without your cell phone or a computer and all of those things — in fact, it’s easier than you might think.  I don’t necessarily believe our attachment to technology is a bad thing, and I certainly don’t think it’s going to decrease in the future.  But I do know it’s possible to live without it and get along just fine.

That’s just one of many things I learned over the course of doing the show.  Perhaps after it starts airing I’ll share some more about the experience, and the many other things I was able to draw from it.

The post Out of the Limelight appeared first on Eugene Katchalov.

Eugene Katchalov has been a professional poker player since 2003 and is a World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour champion. The Ukrainian native has won over $8 million on the live tournament circuit and is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.

You can read more about Eugene on his website, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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