Monday, July 04, 2005

"In a 4-8 game this afternoon, someone said they never win when they raise with AK so they don't raise with it. I said, everytime I sleep with a woman she ends up dumping me but I still sleep with women."
Gary Carson

I can't recommend enough the new poker book, "The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King" by Michael Craig. I almost finished it in one sitting.

If you want the inside skinny on the biggest poker game on the planet - Andy Beal versus The Corporation - go buy it now. Fascinating anecdotes and stories about all your favorite pro poker players and how they manage to walk that tightrope between their business sense, relationships among peers, and their passion - gambling.

Ted Forrest stories rule.

Put it this way. At one point in the story, Andy Beal has played - and defeated - in succession Jennifer Harmon, Todd Brunson, John Hennigan, Ted Forrest, Chau Giang and Doyle Brunson for 5.5 million over a week of heads up poker play.

Anyway, I liked it a lot.

I have a ton to blog but I'm still exhausted from my weekend trip to the new poker room at the Belterra, in Indiana. Very nice room, colour me impressed. Thanks to my bankrolling HuggyBear, I ended up a winner. Thanks to TeeDub for driving and thanks to GMoney for drinking and playing poker with me till 5am.

Apparently, the line of the evening was delivered late-night, by yours truly, at a fun, low-limit table with my buddies.

"Even if Michael Jackson DID molest those kids, he did so in a loving way."

Lots of folks had plenty to say about my sheer drunken idiocy.

Mitigating point: I successfully showed down the Hammer for a nice pot.
Was really a fun time.

Damn, I'm supposed to work tommorrow. God forbid.
I showed up 3 1/2 days out of 5 last week. Not too shabby.

But I realized that it's good, emotionally and intellectually, to get the hell out of the house.

It was my niece's death that really spurred me on - to do SOMETHING; ANYTHING. Climbing into a bottle rarely solves anything. Hence, the impulse decision to head back to an office.

Missourians sometimes speak of a place called Hacklebarney: a non-existent town you try to get to that is forever just around the next curve or just over the next hill, a town you believe in but never get to. Maybe that's enlightenment - always a little ahead of perception.

And that's how it's been with poker. I'm tired of waiting.

Anyway, I saw a thread about someone struggling with playing poker professionally and grappling about going back to work. And Dr. Al, resident 2+2 psychologist had this to say:


As usual, I agree with you. More importantly, so did Freud.

He was once asked: What do people need to be happy?

He replied, "To love and to work."

We need to relate to people with affection and to the world with meaningful work.




Well said.

Aw hell, let's throw up a few posts for ya'll. I'm exhausted (this tasty Guinness isn't helping) but I think I can copy and paste a bit for you, gentle reader.



Subject: The Women were TOTALLY Disrespected in Their 2005 WSOP event.
Author: Debbie in Ohio

I have to say I was very disappointed on how the Rio/Harrah's/WSOP people treated the ladies at the 2005 WSOP Ladies Only event.

We had 601 women in our event, and I busted out in the first 20 min when I misread a tell on someone who'd been pushing our table around (She'd been flinging her chips and glaring as if she was bluffing), when she had a better kicker than myself.

However, I stuck around for the whole thing, and watched.

I think if the WSOP people are going to HAVE a Ladies Only event, then they should treat the event equal to all the other events.

It's sad really, that it took a Movie star with a chip lead to get them to even NOTICE us.

Now, how you ask did they disrespect the Ladies and their event?

1) This should of been from the start, a two day event. When asked why it wasn't, several ladies were told, by the staff even from FEMALE staff:

"Well, this is the first time we've done it no limit ... and hey we figured the ladies wouldn't know how to play it as well, so they'd bust out faster than a mixed event"

and also:

"We didn't think we'd get this many women to show up"

Like, gee, didn't they learn their lessons from Tunica and New Orleans, where women showed up in DROVES. In Tunica they had more women in the Ladies event, then the WHOLE turnout for the MAIN event there!

In New Orleans, they would of had TWICE as many as they did (there were 300 women there), had they not played fast and loose with the schedule and changed the event a few months before hand.

In New Orleans, the other events were put up on the stage on the TV tables, where the women were shoved off in a corner ... and we didn't get an announcer either then.

In New Orleans, the table I was at, between when we lost one player and the 3rd player a whole 20 min elapsed, and then when we refused to play more, and ONLY then (and started yelling in unison for the floor), did the tournament directors tear themselves away from WATCHING other satellite tables play to come over and do their jobs and fill the seats.

2) Back to Las Vegas WSOP event ... When they came to get their seat assignments ... they told women registered in the 2005 Ladies WSOP event, THREE, count them, THREE different times that the event would start at.

11:00 am PST, 12 noon PST, and 2pm PST (the correct starting time was at 11:00 am PST)

3) When it got down into the money, and Jennifer Tilley had a MASSIVE chip lead (the women was luckier than snot I have to say. I think she must of had poker genies, one on each of her shoulders, based on the number of times she called with the worst hand, and sucked out the better player on the turn or the river), all of a sudden, the WSOP people and ESPN 'discovered' that there was a Women's WSOP tournament happening, simply because the Movie star was in the chip lead.

It was then and ONLY then, that they (TPTB and ESPN) proposed that play stop, and the women come back again the next day.

Problem was, most women had planes to catch the next morning (because they had been told it was ONLY a 1 day event), and in one case that I know of, a single parent had small children and had to get back again because she'd have no child care, and couldn't find someone else to care for them.

Again, all because of piss poor planning on the part of the WSOP people.

4) Finally, the final table. I don't care if the event had NOT been planned to be filmed or not, or if people agree if there should or should NOT be a Ladies ONLY event in the first place. If there is an WSOP event, it should be respected just as much as the other events. The other events, when they got down to the final table(s), the final 9 if you will, each had their final tables announced.

Well, when the Ladies got down to the final table, we had to BEG and CHANT for an announcer.

When realized that NO final table would be announced, crowd began:

"Respect the women! We want an announcer for the Women" and also simply "Announcer, Announcer!"

over and over again.

Well, about this time Phil L. (the Unibomber) showed up (again, as he'd been coming over every now and then to check on Jennifer's progress) and began talking to the women spectators. Several of the ladies started talking to him how totally disrespectful that the women were being treated (BTW ... Phil L. Is a VERY nice young man). He agreed, and then was talked into going to the officials to speak to them, and use his pull with them, about getting an announcer for them.

It's only because of Phil and when the ESPN film crew came over to check on Jennifer's progress again, and began filming, the crowd chanting, then and ONLY then did suddenly an announcer appear.

This was AFTER as well, the 9th lady was knocked out, and as such, SHE never got announced AT all!

5) Phil also pointed out to the powers that be, that there was a TV camera final table available, as Phil was convinced by the crowd watching the ladies (which BTW the crowd there watching the Ladies event towards the end .... was 4 times as many as were watching the Omaha Final table that was happening at the same time), to use his pull with the WSOP and the ESPN people, and thus on the next break, the remaining 6 ladies were moved over to a TV table, but NOT the stage where normally final tables were filmed and played at.

6) When after 17 hours of playing (the ladies played from 11am on Sunday until 4am on Monday Morning), they were down to the final 4, then and only then ... when Jennifer had a MONSTER chip lead (she had about 1/2 of the chips when she first sat down at a camera table, which grew to 3/4ths of the chips when she knocked out the 2nd chip leader, by getting lucky on the river and getting her belly buster straight draw filled there), that ESPN rejoiced when the ladies decided to then come back the next day, so they could film the 'final table' on the stage. This all because Jennifer Tilley the Movie star, and girlfriend of the Unibomber had such a huge chip lead.

There were other things going on as well.

They had to institute a penalty rule towards the end, because some of the professional poker player husbands, boyfriends and significant others were going into the playing area ... DURING the event and coaching their wives and so on.

Phil L. was NOT one of them, and had been getting a sandwich for Jennifer and came back into the area to give it to her, almost giving her 15 min in the penalty box, all because he was NOT aware of the rule when it was announced.

Carlos Mortenson and his wife were the WORST offenders.

Mrs. Mortenson was going to Carlos or Carlos to her after EVERY hand she was/had been in at one point, asking his advice or getting coached ... right there ... in the middle ... DURING THE EVENT that is!

It got several of the women and spectators upset, as most of these women didn't have such an advantage (having professional poker players coaching them in the middle of the event). Thus because it was sooo bad and sooo obvious ... TPTB instituted the rule where the spectators had to stay behind the ropes and not give advice to the players during the event.

There is something good though about Jennifer winning ... perhaps it might draw more women into the sport, and make TPTB sit up, take notice, and take women in Poker more seriously.

You'd think with the fact that most men who are of age who would go into Poker are pretty much there, that TPTB might realize that their 'growth industry' for Poker, is NOW getting Women into playing.

This is where the 'fresh money' is, if TPTB would simply stop and think about it.

There is money to be had by getting more women into the sport, and if the TPTB would simply realize this, they just might treat the women with more respect than the disrespect they showed them at the 2005 WSOP Ladies only event.

Lastly, be it where you are one that agrees that Ladies only events should or shouldn't be, I think that everyone should agree that if you HAVE the event, then it should have the SAME respect given to it, that the other events are given.



Yuppers, lots of comments and flames. All the misogynists came out to take cheap shots like this:

You've cemented my position in that all women will find something to nag or bitch about and can't just enjoy the moment.


Per my whining and current job situation above, this seems an apropos post along with comments. It's a breath of fresh air to read thoughtful, contemplative posts on playing poker as an online pro.

One year as a "pro"

When I quit my job last June I did not intend on playing poker for a living, but it seems to have turned out this way. I remember making a post on one of these forums responding to someone else about a year ago advising against playing poker for a living - and here I am doing just that.

My intention at the time was to take a short break from work and return to the job market in the fall when I returned from a trip to Aruba to play in the UB WPT event. I did not like the job I had at the time and wanted to take some time to reevaluate my career path and consider a career change. I worked as a Project Manager for a general contractor, had been working in the contracting business for about ten years and was considering trying something new. I had enough money saved to get by for about six months without working.

I had been playing poker for about two years and had found moderate success at the tables and had just started dabbling in online play and was finding it to be somewhat profitable – though not to the extent that many claim on these forums. So I concluded I could make a little money on the side playing poker while I sorted out my career choices.

I started out by going down to Bellagio every day to play live $15/30 and then maybe play an hour or two online at home. My online play consisted of one or two tables of $5/10. The live action was very good. The game had a lot of action and there were a lot of players playing over their head in that game. I think when people come to Vegas from other places they tend to take a shot at a bigger game than they are used to at home and tend to gamble a little bit more. This made for pretty games despite a fair number of very good local players who populate the game. I was pleasantly surprised how much I was able to make the first couple of months as my income from poker surpassed my income from my previous job – and I made a good living.

Online I was not as successful. I scuffled around for a few months making almost 1 BB per 100 playing one or two tables. After reviewing these forums some I found a rake back deal on Empire and decided to put more effort into my online play as I was getting bored with my routine and hoped I could approach the success many players claimed to be having. I moved down in limits and expanded to four tables of $2/4 and then quickly moved up to $3/6. My win rate stayed at about 1 BB per 100, but with more tables and the rake back deal, it was a little better than my previous online results, but not as good as my live play results. As my Aruba trip approached I was still planning on seriously looking for a job when I returned.

The Aruba trip was a turning point for me. Besides cashing in the main event, I made a final table of a side tourney, made good money in side cash games – and most importantly met someone who turned me on to the idea of propping online. He had been doing it for about a year and explained the how the deals worked. It sounded intriguing and I looked into it when I returned home.

As most of you know, propping involves starting new tables, playing heads-up, and playing short-handed. As soon as a table fills up and the game gets good, you have to leave the table. This was a major concern for me, as I was unsure of my ability to beat these games. But I decided to give it a shot. I had a tough go of it the first couple of weeks getting used to short-handed games and without the prop payments I could not have continued. But I stuck to it, researched short-handed play more and improved my game enough to learn to beat these games for a little bit. I bought a second monitor and eventually worked my way up to playing 6-8 tables at once and I now play any limit from $3/6 to $15/30. Since my rake back affiliate was flaking out on me and not paying as quickly anymore I quit playing Empire altogether and just focused my attention on the prop sites I was working for.

As I was working on my online game, I all but quit playing live. I found that I now did not have the patience required to play live anymore. The hands were too slow and it seemed like the variance was too much to handle. If I had a bad hour playing online it would only take an hour or two to recover. A bad hour of live play can take a day or two recover from. I now only play live poker if it is in a tournament or if I am out drinking and goofing around at lower limits with friends.

The income was enough that I had to strongly consider not returning to work. I did not think I could find a job that would pay me what I was now making but I was concerned about the effects my lifestyle was having on both my physical and mental health. My weight ballooned by 20+ pounds and I was not exercising at all. More worrisome to me was that I was shut in my house all day and had very little social interaction. The lack of social outlets led to feelings of isolation and at times moderate depression. Despite these negatives, I decided the money was enough to overcome these misgivings about my new “career”.

So here I am, one year into playing poker “professionally”. I do not think I am a particularly good player. I am just good enough to beat the games I play in and with the extra prop income I can make a solid living. I still struggle with my health concerns, especially the occasional depression I experience. I used to get a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from my job and I do not get that from poker. Despite the potential income, I still would not recommend anyone do this and somewhat regret going down this road myself. I wonder if and when I choose to return to the real world how I will explain my hiatus from the working world. I wonder if I can still muster up the discipline required to be successful working professional. Sorry the post is so long, but hopefully it was worth wading through.

Dr. Al Schoonmaker, again, gives his feedback on the above post.

Thank you for an excellent post, and thanks also to the people who have contributed to this thread. As I have often said, without this forum I would have run out of ideas for columns and books.

Five years ago "Don't quit your day job" was an appendix in my "The Psychology of Poker." Among my reasons for that recommendation were some of the points you raised here.

Today playing professionally is immeasurably better than it was just a five years ago. The money is better. Some pros are acting more sensibly about their finances.

Soon I will publish in our internet magazine a revision of my appendix. I still have some reservations about playing pro, but the situation has changed enough to update my position.



And long-time 2+2'r, Andyfox, chimed in with some common-sense:

Terrific post, thanks.

"I do not think I am a particularly good player. I am just good enough to beat the games I play in and with the extra prop income I can make a solid living. I still struggle with my health concerns, especially the occasional depression I experience. I used to get a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from my job and I do not get that from poker. Despite the potential income, I still would not recommend anyone do this and somewhat regret going down this road myself."

At least your are realistic about your playing abilities. As for the health concerns, you could certainly find time to get in some exercise: first thing in the morning, or make it a routine to go for a walk or whatever at the same time every day.

The depression, and the feeling that your job is not worthwhile, is another thing. A few other 2+2ers and myself have talked about this peril of being a pro. Especially as an internet pro, it can be a solitary, unrewarding (psychologically speaking) life and lifestyle. It seems I see a lot of pros who are maladjusted, whereas there are a lot of non-pros who make a nice auxiliary income and are very tough players, without the pro-induced malaise. The fact that you have regrets and wouldn't, from your experience, recommend going pro, confirms my thoughts and observations about this.

But you seems like you're very aware of things and that's a good place to start from. Good luck to you.

Hell, the entire thread is here. Go read it for yourself.
One year as a "pro"

A couple other interesting threads are:
Poker now, education... later

People who won't accept that they are losing players

And last, but not least, a different take on the above point of view.

All these college kids who want to go pro

I work with students every day on a college campus, and it alarms me to see the number of posts on the 2+2 psychology forums from college students, whose only career plan seems to be playing poker for a living. At first there were only a few, but lately there's been a flood of "Should I drop out/Yes I'm dropping out/My grades are in the tank cause I play poker instead of studying but who cares I'm making 20K online/I'm going pro so I don't need college anyway" type of posts.

I think this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. College students are one of the biggest reasons for the current poker boom. I have no doubt that online poker is creating many, many addicted gamblers on college campuses across the country. Many of these players are giving no thought to their future, other than plotting their carreer as a professional poker player when they graduate (or flunk out).

I think that the many winning college players on this board who are contemplating a pro career, need to be honest with themselves and examine their priorities. Some things to think about for all the "future pros" out there...

1. 20k or 30k a year might seem awesome in college when you have no expenses - but in the real world it's nothing. Just because you can make that much playing lower-limit games after classes, does not mean you'll still be able to win when you move up in limits and try to make enough money to live on or support a family.

2. You might not be as good as you think. Do you honestly think all these wannabe pros are really good enough to make poker their livelihood? It's like every college basketball player thinking they'll just quit school and join the NBA. Most of the winning college players will never be good enough to earn a decent living from the game.

3. The games will probably never be easier than they are right now. They will almost certainly get harder in the future, when the poker fad dies down and the fish aren't so plentiful. Just because you can win now, doesn't mean you will continue to win indefinitely. When the games tighten up and you're no longer winning, you're faced with the prospect of finding a "real" job, with no employment history and perhaps no degree.

4. Work is (hopefully) more than a paycheck. Poker as a career is not particularly useful to society. It doesn't help anyone, and it is not necessarily the best use of your unique talents. I know from experience that it's hard to convince college students of this point. They may have friends who recently graduated, who are now working lousy entry-level jobs for low pay. The transition from the fun, comparatively carefree life of a college student, to the full-time workforce is a tough one. So of course, playing poker might sound like a good alternative. But there are many people who absolutely love their jobs - even if they had to suffer through a few years on the bottom rung of the career ladder before they got there. Playing poker is not the only route out of wage-slave hell. A fulfilling career, with poker a profitable hobby on the side, is probably the ideal situation for most people. If you cannot think of another career that could even remotely interest you besides playing poker, you probably need to spend some time examining yourself and what you really want out of life.

5. Playing a gambling game for a living is not an easy life, physically or psychologically. I'd guess there aren't many who are really equipped to handle it. Something that might seem easy when you are playing for extra spending money in college can seem a lot tougher when you are playing to pay for your kid's braces or next month's mortgage payment.

Yes, there are some who may possibly have the rare combination of psychological makeup and poker skills to make a go of a pro career. But many, many more will not. Before the WPT and the current television poker boom, you never heard young college students planning to play poker for a living. Instead they planned to become doctors, architects, schoolteachers, or whatever else they felt passionate about. I worry that today, many college students are ignoring their god-given talents in favor of what they mistakenly perceive as an easy life of big money. This is not only harmful to the individual, but it hurts society as a whole. It robs the rest of us of their contributions, while they sit in front of an LCD screen pushing virtual chips around a table.

That will have to suffice for now.

Thanks for stopping by. My deepest apologies for the navel-gazing. I'll be back with tons of great content in a day or two.

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