Friday, April 14, 2006

It's hard out here for a poker player

How many times can you say it? This game is humbling. This game is humbling. This game is humbling.

And if you're trying to make a living at it, it's hard to justify it as a career when you win $500 in the first quarter of the year. That's where I stand after three months. Good thing I'm embarking on a new career soon.

Have I played poorly? Not really. Have I gone on tilt? Only mildly. What's wrong with my play? I can't think of anything. I'm playing the same way I was when I was winning.

So why am I losing? This is the part that contradicts those who scream at the top of their lungs that poker is not gambling. I call bullshit. I used to be one of those staunch defenders. Hell, I used to refer to poker as a "sport." (No, it isn't.)

This truth seems evident: in a skillful contest, the person who wins is the one who is able to use his skill to defeat his opponent. Does this happen in poker? Certainly. Does the most skillful play or player always win? Certainly not. I may make a great read and snuff out a bluff, but if I call and get outdrawn then my skillful play does not benefit me.

You play this game long enough, you learn that poker is a mix of luck and skill. Skill really does win out in the long run, but how long is that run? Because when you hit a bad streak for three months you really start to wonder. And you can't tell me I'm not "gambling" that my luck is going to turn around soon. The truth is I just don't know.

I'm sitting in The Tuscaloosa News as I write this. I'm back temporarily, putting together an annual fact book for the newspaper in an independent contract that will last through the month. It's weird being back in the office. I get bored and antsy as I've enjoyed nine freedoms of cubicle freedom, but being back with the co-workers also has a comfortable familiar feeling too. The important thing about the job is it helps keep me afloat as I ride through the rocky waters of a poker losing streak. I hope my boat doesn't run aground in the meantime.

1 comment:

SirFWALGMan said...

Great post man. I have had simular experiences. I never played for a living thank god.. but that first year when I could never lose a hand was aewsome, then the variance swooped in and changed my thinking. Luck and Skill combined over time. Thats poker. Not and easy way to make a living.