I enjoyed the comments that were posted following the first installment of this topic. Some agreed, others disagreed, but they all made good, strong arguments for their viewpoints.
I think I should note that of the two reasons I gave for why I enjoy poker less than I used to is the feeling unproductive part. The taking advantage of others is of much secondary importance. While I wonder about these people, I also realize they are going to put their money up for grabs no matter what I do, so if I am the one to win it, so be it. I have, on a couple of occasions, suggested to a player that they take a break when they seem to go on tilt. But, yeah, most of the time I just take their money.
At least I'm trying to empathize a little, and depending on your view of this issue you either think that's a great idea or a terrible one. I think it all originates from this thought I had recently as I approach my 30th birthday in June -- I've spent the first 30 years of my life being pretty selfish. I'd like to spend the next 30 being a better man.
As the fourth decade of my existence dawns, I see myself trying to settle down soon. I've started dating a girl who I think has serious potential and if she's the one (or whenever I find "the one") I don't want to be trying to start a family and having to play poker for a living to support it. Even if I could cut it, which I probably could, there would be a serious stigma put on me as "the professional gambler."
You also must consider where I live. This is the heart of the Bible belt, where a state legislator tried to remove all books, plays and any other media depicting homosexuality from schools and libraries and where the former state Supreme Court chief lost his job for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed in the Capitol building. And these are no minority viewpoints. This is a supremely conservative state, the reddest of the red states.
It's really awkward here, as it probably is across the country despite poker's sudden popularity, to tell someone you play poker for a living. I always, always add that I'm taking a year off from a newspaper job to write a book about what it's like to try playing professionally. Why? Because most people would think I'm nuts if they thought I was trying to make a career out of it. Nothing will change that opinion.