Wednesday, December 29, 2004

And the beat goes on

How do you like the catchphrase, said in my best Forrest Gump drawl, "Life is like a game of poker, you never know what cards you're goin' to git." OK, maybe not.

My discussion of the online experiment sparked some lively banter on PokerStars one night. Most people find the results unbelievable and I still am not sure that the sample I have so far is a fair indicator of what my future results will be. Maybe after I've clocked about 1,000 hours then I can safely say I have a realistic projection. Anyway, here is an email I received a couple of weeks ago:

5BB per hour is basicly unreal. 80 hours is way too small of a sample. However, your having a good run, keep at it, but the poker gods know all, and will correct that imbalance. I enjoyed chatting w/ you last night on Stars. I hope to follow your experiment, and see what the tide will bring.


The Tide will bring a win in the Music City Bowl I hope. Does anyone know of a talisman I can buy to ward off the poker gods? On a bright note, the rousing success of the experiment continues. After 120+ hours I'm now averaging $32 an hour in the 3/6 shorthanded games. For you math majors, thats around four large. I'll be taking some of that to Tunica next week. Can you say parlay? Peace out...or something like that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The nitty gritty draws closer

Every time I talk about leaving my job for a year, my desire to do it grows stronger. Over beers last night with the boss, who has encouraged me as much as anyone, we talked about the job and life. It's become my mantra to say that I don't want to wake up an old man one day and regret I never took a chance in my life. Poker is a gamble, but what I plan isn't much of one. The year off, the book, it's about more than money. It's about believing in myself, that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. It's cliche, but true -- you can't learn to fly if you don't spread your wings. Maybe it will finally put that nagging voice of self-doubt in my head away for good.

I found my hour-long discussion with Iggy last week enlightening. Hopefully, we encouraged each other with our discussion of poker. Like Iggy, I don't plan to leave without some backup income. I'm in the process of trying to secure some freelance work. I hope to syndicate a video game review column and there shouldn't be any shortage of poker articles I could pitch to magazines. When Iggy quit his job, he took some freelance advertising contracts with him. I particularly liked this quote from him: "If I had to pay my bills playing poker I don't think I would be comfortable doing that. I want to play with impunity. I don't want to have fear."

It's also notable that when people know you are a poker player they love to start talking about poker. Partly what people like Iggy and I are doing is living the dream of millions of people who wish they could leave the cubicle and live a life of their choosing.

"When the CEO announced at the Monday morning staff meeting that I was quitting my job to play poker I nearly got lifted off the floor," Iggy said. "People were high fiving me."

Monday, December 20, 2004

A mother's lament

Upon traveling home to Cullman this past weekend, I finally revealed my plans to my parents. I had been hesitant in telling them for fear of them looking at my idea with disdain. You must understand that I come from a very conservative -- read cautious -- family. Both of my parents have spent their entire working lives in the same job. They just aren't big risk takers.

I decided the time had come to tell them the truth, especially since I have had a literary agent express interest in my writing and may soon try to take a year off to focus on my proposal and eventual book. Unfortunately, the agent's client list is full, but he did give me some very helpful hints in getting another agent. You Card Player readers should be familiar with this agent, who is Greg Dinkin.

The good news is that while my parents had plenty of questions, they seemed supportive. Believe me, that takes a huge burden off my shoulders, not having to stick my neck out without having to deal with nagging parents. I'm 28, but I still care very much what my parents think.

Before I left Sunday afternoon to head back to Tuscaloosa, my mother questioned me again.

"Do you have faith in me?" I asked her.
"Of course I do," she replied.
"Then don't discourage me from doing this," I said.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Poker personality

Poker personality

At the poker table, the player can experience the gamut of emotions – joy, despair, anxiety, indignation – in a matter of minutes. His personality can range from Jekyll to Hyde depending on whether he is winning or losing. The game, after all, is about money.

You want to know more about a man’s personality? Take him to a poker game. If a man is an aggressive risk taker in life, he’s likely to be raising and bluffing at the poker table. Picture a stockbroker, still in coat and loosened tie, splashing chips around the game. Those who are timid in the real world will usually be the ones checking and calling on the green felt. Visualize the retired man in polo shirt with graying hair and sad, droopy eyes. A person who can’t read another person’s emotions in life isn’t likely to be able to tell if a player is bluffing at the poker table. Put simply, a person who can’t win in cards isn’t likely to be a winner in life. As writer David Hayano once wrote, “Poker is not a game in which the meek inherit the Earth.”

Friday, December 03, 2004

RGP discussion on "going pro"

I saw these posts on RGP this morning on a thread on "going pro." Overall, the thread was a pretty lively discussion, with good points on the pros and cons of such an endeavor.

Good post. I would like to mention one more thing. Playing poker for a living is certainly possible; unfortunately the people who can make a living playing poker are generally fairly intelligent and in all honesty should find a way to make an actual contribution to society. At the end of your life, do you want to look back and realize that the best thing you did with your intelligence and wits involved no significant contribution to society? Just my opinion. And I do enjoy playing poker (for the same reasons I enjoy playing chess, go, or even basketball), but I wouldn't want building a nice bankroll to be all that I had accomplished during my short time on this planet.

Why does intelligence bring along some sort of civic duty? What's the difference from say, an electrician? Shouldn't he use his skills on off days to fix the lights of disadvantaged people? The problem is you have to get paid or you can't eat. The problem is the whole global economy is focused on one thing: the consumption of the entire earth at the expense of all life. Who wants to contribute to that? Exactly what avenues do you think modern genius should be pursuing? Should he fire off into the business world? Should he be a doctor and save lives? Should he write a great novel that no one will ever read? Should he lose his grip on reality trying to find out what quarks are made of? Should he just try to warn everyone that the whole world is about to explode?

The closer the 2005 WSOP gets, in what would be the first leg of my proposed book, the more serious my thinking becomes on following through with my plans. I may love to gamble, but I believe the idea of leaving my job for a year is a safe play. Consider that these are viable options:

1) The best one -- I get an agent and publisher and I actually write the damn book. Some people like it. It sells a few copies. A career is born as George Plimpton for the 21st Century.

2) I can't get an agent or publisher, write the book anyway, and can't sell it. I self-publish and struggle to sell it. Financially, not a great play, but it would be a hell of a year. I've got the money to live for a year, barring a catastrophe at the poker tables -- think major stack erosion. After a year I ponder the future.

3) I just play poker for a year. Who knows? Maybe I could win the lottery otherwise known as the World Series of Poker championship. A book, eh? Too much trouble. After a year I ponder the future.