Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hopefully, I'll write a Guinness-fueled post this evening. Yes, the hiatus is over.

Go hit the TheFatGuy for his take on the RSS - BlogBomb nonsense. It really is a joke that the scam-artists can build websites from the hard work of bloggers. This software (and variations thereof) is just the tip of the iceberg and is reason enough to just say NO to RSS. Unless, of course, you enjoy having your posts hijacked by thieves. I work too hard on my damn posts to allow this to happen. I refuse to link to these bastards but go hit http://www.blogbomb.com for the down and dirty.

I have much to report on, but for now enjoy this post from a fellow asking about the feasibility of going pro. There was one long, thoughtful reply, and one succinct, not so thoughtful reply. Hey, it's not David Ross, but still, enjoy:


I have searched through this group and read a few older posts on playing
poker for a living, and wanted to get a few thoughts and opinions on this
subject. All I ask is that we keep the flames and stupid replys that have
no vaild info low. Maybe future people can use this post to answer there
questions before reposting the questions.

First background on me and why I am asking. I work 50+to 70 hours a week
during holidays working a retail Job. I make very good money around $60K a
year now going up very quickly. Right now I love playing poker more then
anything (only been playing 1 year) and I know if you can make a living
doing something you love go for it! Plus I would get more family time.
Anyway I am only playing $2-$4 working up my bankroll and paying off debt
and will slowly move up as I get a bigger bankroll.

What I want to know is if you can make a decent living playing limit holdem
or do you need to develop your tourny skills and get into the big money

I think I will know when I can make a decent living, (debt free $50k bank
roll) winning player for couple years. Is this accurate?

For those making a living doing it do you regret it or do you still love
what you do like you did when you started?

The way I would plan on beating the game and others is playing more then 1
table at a time online. I have played up to 5 at a time with a large
monitor setup. What I would like to do is play 2 or 3 higher limit tables
once I get more confident and more money. As well as playing my way into as
many large tourny's as possable.

Any other thoughts on playing for a living please fill us all in, I have
already set this as a goal over the next couple years.

And the thoughtful response:

I expect most responses you receive will discuss, in general, your ability
to make enough money at 2-4 limit to support yourself. I suspect they
might have a point, and think that if you are to be a pro you should aim
yourself at higher limits. But as I'm not a limit player, but rather a NL
player, I'll instead give you an idea of what life is like for me...
something that should complement what I expect you will hear from others.

In any case, I think it's MOST IMPORTANT to first verify for some
significant period of time that you can attain the level of winnings per
hour that you need to make your living. The SECOND MOST IMPORTANT thing
is to start with two separate pools of money: One to be your bankroll,
and another for your living expenses, that can cover a few months should
your bankroll bust, so that you can still eat while you look for a job.

I have only been pro for about 4 months. I quit my job making $55k where I
was due for a raise (expecting $60k) when I gave my 6 months notice last
June. I also worked a lot of hours some weeks, and worked a stressful job.

I quit my job without any particular plan -- just knew it was time to move
on. I gave poker a shot and it's been working out wonderfully. I've made
about $41,000 in cash (pretax) in the 4 months I've been playing, plus
I've won entries into three WPT events (I didn't make money in the
Pokerstars cruise or the Reno Hilton WPT events, but have yet to play in
the Aviation Club WPT in July that I qualified for on Ultimate Bet). My
money has come about half from online play and half from live play,
although I rarely play live and most of the live cash ($17,300 after you
subtractmy huge ridiculous tip as I didn't know they withheld 3% for
dealers, and the $5100 main event buyin) came most from this recent live
tournament win:


I play online about 50 hours a week, 3 weeks a month, under the handle
'ackbleh' on Pokerstars. I play 1-2, 2-4, and 3-6 blind NL games,
multi-table tournaments... $50 and up plus $any rebuy, and headsup NL
matches ranging from $50 to $1000.

I have found that the biggest challenge is mental, and not related to the
details of playing a hand. Sticking to your limit, not going on tilt,
playing games you're a favorite at, managing your bankroll properly, not
playing in games where you could significantly hurt your bankroll in one
session, not playing after/during drinking, NOT ALTERING YOUR GAME OR
WHINING WHEN YOU ARE ON A COLD STREAK, and not giving into the gamble...
these are the challenges of a pro online poker player these days. As far
as playing specific hands... if you know good math, and know poker, and
have been a winning player... the issue there is simply how much, not
whether you will win. It's maintaining control of the long term state of
mind that is the key.

Of course, my game HAS improved leaps and bounds in the four months. I
have several friends who also play online, a few of them also pros, and
discussion with them is invaluable. We keep each others' heads straight
when cards are cold. I also continue to read and reread books to continue
my education. Finally, I have paid Bob Ciaffone for a few phone
conversations and email analyses of hands ($100 for 2 hours, mail
thecoach@chartermi.net). These have also been very helpful sessions in
keeping me grounded when cards are cold and FPS (fancy play syndrome)
tries to take hold.

I don't happen to think four months is a long enough period of time to
declare my experiment a success. I do know that I'm a MUCH happier person
now than I was. I love what I do each day. I am a learner -- one thing I
really enjoyed about my previous job as a Project Manager was that I was
always learning new things. But now, I not only enjoy learning and
becoming better -- I actually inherently LIKE the thing I'm learning about
and getting better at! Much better! And I don't have the old situation
where I would take the stress home with me all the time. Life is fun! I
do what I want! And what I want often includes poker! It also includes
travelling for one week a month, which is wonderful now that I don't have
to show up places every day at 8am in a dress shirt and slacks to please a

That said, there have been some tough times. Some bumps. Some rough
points. Being up $4500 after one week in February and ending the month up
only $3500 was... a challenge for those two losing weeks (I spent one week
at Whistler snowboarding). It's mentally trying. It's not for the weak.
It's not for the average. It's for the mentally strong.

Poker is nice. I had a goal of being a millionaire by the time I'm 30. I
may achieve it through poker. I may also have to get a job in 6 months.
I won't go broke -- I'm too financially disciplined for that, and maintain
0 debt. Ideally, I'll make enough money soon (would love to well in WPT
Paris) to help my father retire soon, instead of in three years like he
wants to. If not... oh well, at least I gave it a shot.

<.unwanted philosophical rant>
But... Poker is not a lifetime vocation. Why? It's not constructive. It
doesn't contribute anything to the world. It's leeching extra disposable
income off of people. Providing them entertainment? No, I don't think
so, not like a movie or ballgame. Because they don't come to lose. They
don't come to pay me $40/hour to enjoy playing poker. They come to win,
but don't (on average). This is not being paid for entertainment.

We only have one life, and I think to spend all of one's working years
leeching extra money off of the rest of society is a waste. It's sure
great for a while though -- a great way to pay for travelling the world,
meeting great people, and building life skills like money management,
discipline, independence, and people-reading. I wouldn't be surprised if
five years from now, 'ex-poker professional' is a great line to have on a
resume when applying for a position as a negotiator, for instance.
<./unwanted philosophical rant>

I'm a smart guy. I missed two questions on my SATs, won lots of Academic
awards, particularly in math, etc, etc.
I'm very independant. I don't give a flip what most people think and just
do what I think is right.

I don't think that I'm some super special guy, and the purpose here is not
to brag. There are LOTS of people who can say things similar to the
above. But I think that you DO have to be smart and independant to
succeed at being a pro poker player. If, when asked to describe yourself,
you wouldn't mention the above without being prompted... I'd advise
finding another line of work.

I hope the above information is enough to help you make your decision.
Please, do consider multiple sources when making your decision, for as I
mentioned I've only been doing this for a little over four months, and
savvy readers will note that without my recent live tournament win, I'd be
up only $24k in four months... not that big a number when you consider
paying your own health insurance and a full 30% to Uncle Sam. I do have
to tell you -- I'm a really happy man, and in a lot of ways an envy of my
former coworkers. Life is good. Really good.

Best of luck, whatever your decision.


And the NOT so thoughtful response:

First of all you are a fucking idiot. It takes years to build up a skill
of poker to even think about going pro. One year aint gonna cut it bud.
And another thing, trust me from experience, you will not have more family
time. You are always gonna be in a casino trying to hit it big. Get
your shit together first and then consider if its for you


Gotta love RGP, eh? Thanks for visiting and hopefully I'll be back with a real post very soon.

Link of the Day:
Eastern Europe's Forgotten Jewel
"Most people get to Molvania either by air and by accident," according to the travel guide Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry. "What it lacks in old world charm it more than makes up for in concrete."

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