Sunday, December 12, 2010

a comment I posted on doubleflys blog

doublefly's blog is one of the best so if you don't read it you should (see link on the left). he recently posted that some people he knew were considering playing poker professionally because they were anticipating losing their jobs. He made some very well thought out and valuable comments relating to going pro that I agree with and hope these folks will read and consider. I decided to type a comment because I both agree with fly and think that his general optimistic disposition and writing style might be painting the stresses of playing professionally a little lighter than he intended (or I believe them to be). FWIW I think I'm extremely lucky and have a great job and lifestyle. I wouldn't trade it for just about anything. At the same time I do believe that I work hard, and I've earned my success. And I think that I was lucky to be born with the type of personality and disposition that has greatly aided in my success in the game. I'm not by any means trying to induce sympathy for pro poker players or make it seem like we have it tough. I am however trying to illuminate the realities of why more people don't play for a living, and why I would in general not recommend people give it a go.

here is my comment relating to his blog post:

if you're looking to play poker for a living because you are about to be laid off chances are you have zero chance of successfully pulling it off. the only reason you should be looking to play for a living is because you've been playing so much and for so long that you already could be playing for a living and are just considering a life style change. this isn't something you can just start, or even start taking seriously.

I played poker seriously (playing/studying/reading etc) for hours nearly every day for probably two years before I considered playing professionally. during that time I was finishing grad school and working as an engineer. It wasn't until I had already made enough playing poker to have a working bankroll, 3-4 months of expenses, and nearly half a million hands of experience under my belt that I considered playing professionally. And at that point I knew my risk of ruin was very very small and I pretty much understood what my hourly would likely be for the near future.

If you aren't in a similar situation you are courting personal disaster (especially if you have dependents) if you try to pursue playing professionally. Don't confuse the phrase "playing professionally" or the fact that it is a game with the idea that pros are merely playing. It is work. And very emotionally and mentally taxing work.

I find poker during work hours to be considerably more stressful than the half dozen jobs I had before I went pro. And you will also likely find your sleep schedule as well as your social life will face some adjustments. I have no complaints as it has all worked well for me, but certain people and personality types simply couldn't handle it. For example my wife is the most intelligent person I know (about to graduate from Harvard Med school fwiw), and has the right type of intelligence for poker (brilliant math mind and majored in psych in undergrad). BUT she would never make it as a poker pro. The monetary stress, the weird hours, the potential social barriers would all be too much for her. For me they are no big deal, but by the same token I could never have made it into (let alone through) med school. To each their own.

cliff notes: you probably don't have what it takes to be a poker pro. If you do you probably already know that you do, and it's just a question if you want to.

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