Random Thoughts on Playing Poker Professionally
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I've thought about making this blog for a couple weeks now and currently have nothing to do so here it goes.
I have been playing poker as my sole source of income for a little over 2 years now. The vast majority of my income has come from playing cash games online, but I have dabbled a bit in the live, and tournament arenas as well. I have been through all the ups and downs one would expect to experience and for better or worse I have made it this far. Throughout this journey I've found a few different things to come up again and again.
1.) The high points in your career are never as satisfying as the low points are demoralizing. I think almost everyone who plays for a living would agree with me here. I'm not sure what the cause of this is, but I am guessing it has something to do with the brain being trained to think we should be winning. So when we are on a big upswing we think that is just how its supposed to go. When on a downswing its just unfathomable that people far below your skill level are continuing to win pots off you. I have personally had two $20k+ scores (which, for a small stakes grinder are quite large). One was winning a miniFTOPs and the other was hitting a BBJ. On both occasions I got a bunch of joy out of it but it was so short lived. A few hours after they occurred it was just as if nothing had happened. On the other hand, I have gone on downswings that just demoralize me and kill my confidence for weeks and even months at a time. I have been on the verge of quitting for good on numerous occasions.
2.) Poker truly does desensitize you to money. While constantly winning and losing 3 and 4 figures on a daily basis it is hard to see how much money is truly worth. I have found that there are two times when I will spend a lot of money and not think about it. These two times are when I am either on a big upswing or a big downswing. The mentality on a big upswing is "Well, I just made $x, so I can spend $x on this, even though it is super overpriced and not worth it." On the other hand, when I am on a big downswing I think "Hey, I just lost $x amount over the past few weeks, whats another $x?" Its pretty easy to see why this can be very dangerous, especially to someone in their early 20's who has never held a "real" job in their life (Not counting cart/bag boy at the local grocery store when i was 16).
3.) Not many people in the "real" world will give you much credit for what you do and no one that hasn't played the game extensively can really understand what playing for a living is all about. All of my friends know what I do for a living and will often joke about how I've got it so easy and such. I usually play along because from the outside it truly does look like a pretty easy life. I choose my own hours, I answer to no one but myself, and I make a pretty decent living. Not many people realize how difficult it is to actually pull this off though. It took an amazing amount of time and effort to get to the point where I am at now. I studied my ass off and played many hours grinding away a tiny hourly just to get better. Not to mention all the stress that comes along with not having a guaranteed income from week to week. Also, the level of focus you have to maintain while playing is way higher than your typical office job. After a standard 2 hour session I would bet that I have used more brain power than most people use in their entire 8 hour workday. I can't turn my brain off for one second while I am playing.
4.) Playing online for a living can be lonely at times. You won't have much social interaction some days as an internet grinder, its just the truth of the matter. A lot of your interactions with people will be messaging other poker players with instant messaging programs. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one of my friends from HS or college that still uses AIM, and its only to communicate with other poker players. Unless you are living with other poker players you will likely be on a different schedule than the people you are living with who work regular jobs. I have found that most of the time I have to make a big effort to get out and actually be sociable. Its sometimes hard to pry yourself away from the tables when you are stuck 10 Buy-ins, but its just something you have to do imo.
I could go on and on with this list, but I don't want the blog to get too long. All in all poker has been a very rewarding career for me and I am very glad that I pursued it. It is extremely challenging and extremely stressful at times, but I think that I have handled everything pretty well and I wouldn't change much about the last couple years of my life.
Here's some sweet mash-ups I have had on repeat recently.
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