As a poker player you’ll have to deal with a lot more then just ‘a game’. Understanding the game of poker only takes a few seconds to learn, but a life to master. Being a professional poker player, is like running a business. You have to manage time and money. What are good investments? when do you take risks? And when do you avoid them? How do you deal with the never ending ups and downs To be a poker player you have to be mentally tough.
In the early days, in 2003, when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, he showed the world that by qualifying online you could go on and win the world series of poker. He won $2.5 million and internet poker went viral overnight. In the golden days of poker, earning over a $100.000 a year was easy for anyone who put in some time and effort. If you knew the basic skills and started to play online, you could become a pro.
Today the poker environment is different. Games are tougher and countries like the USA, Italy, France and Spain are not allowing there people to play on foreign websites or sometimes not even allow them to play at all. This caused a massive shift in the poker community. The world wide player pool got reduced, recreational players stopped playing and the professionals moved away to other countries.
With more professionals then recreational players and the amount of free information available on the internet, coaching websites, seating scripts and GTO strategy software, calculating the best possible action to take in any possible situation, poker is not so profitable anymore.
A quick explanation about poker
If you are new to poker and don’t understand the poker formats out there. Let me explain:
MTT Poker (Multi Table Tournaments, like the WSOP for example) allow you to buy-in for a fixed price. For example; you pay $1000 and start with 5000 chips. The blinds (fixed fee per round of play) start low but move up every 20 minutes. This drives the action and if you want to survive and outlast the other players you have to fight and create action. You can’t just sit around and wait for Aces (the best NL Hold’em starting hand). You are forced to play until you have all the chips or there is nothing left for you to play with anymore.
In most tournaments, the top 10% of the playing field receives money but the real money is on top. If the number one would receive a $100.000, the number two get’s around $60.000 and just missing out on the final table, becoming 10th, you get around $4000. The variance and amount of luck necessary to become first instead of 10th is insane. One coin-flip (a 50:50 situation) can make or break your future.
But when you are on the positive side of that coin flip, life is fantastic!
Cash games (CG’s) are different. Unlike MTTs, where you are playing until you’ve got all the chips or you’re out. Where tactical strategy can force you to make short term decisions where you have to avoid taking risks even if they would be the more profitable in the long run, in CG it’s almost the opposite.
You attack every edge you get. You focus on what gives you the highest and most profitable expectation in the long run. That’s the only thing that counts. Short term outcome is totally irrelevant. If you lose you’re not out, instead you just re-buy and if you want to stop, you stop.
CG’s look like the ideal way to play poker and it is, but the competition is also a lot tougher and therefor you have to be a lot better to make the same amount of money playing CG’s then it would playing MTTs.
Luck is less of a factor and skill and work ethic really show up in your results.
After 6 years playing professional poker I’ve had my ups and downs but I always enjoyed the grind. I learnt about poker and builded my own community. A group of friends, people from all over the world. Together we improved and shared our knowledge about the thing we loved. To become good fast, I joined forums and participated heavily in discussions. I even started my own private forum to discuss and connect with some of the best online players in the world.
Reputation is everything in poker and I’ve always worked with investors. Coming from a competitive sport background, the competition, the ability to measure myself with the best in the world was more important to me then maximizing profits. Long loosing stretches can happen to the best and to play at the highest level you need to have a lot of capital, to stay alive, in order to continue at the highest level. To work with investors your reputation needs to be really good. They transfer you large sums of money to play with without any official contract that would hold up in court. Trust is the only currency that matters.
My reputation was so good that when I decided to open up a restaurant in Brazil, it took me a week to borrow $30.000. Looking back now, I’m amazed that I pulled it off. Especially that quickly. There where no official contracts, everything was based on the relationships I builded and the trust I received from my fellow competitors.
Now I’m outside of the poker bubble I’m amazed at how poker players, myself included, handle their money and how easy they spend it. I remember one night going out for dinner and at the end of that dinner we played credit card roulette. Randomly pick out credit cards and the one that was leftover had to pay it all. Luckily I didn’t lose :-).
In the ‘real’ world, money is a lot harder to earn and building this company and #ProjectLillyta from the ground up I have to reconsider every penny twice before spending it. Sometimes it’s tough, knowing I could go back, grind, play poker and make more money then I do right now. But today I’m happy, today I don’t deal with all the negativity that comes from poker. And I don’t worry about regulations or the future of poker and how tough the playing fields will be tomorrow.
I’ve talked to poker players about their next move and as a life-coach I really enjoy helping them to find a way to build a future that doesn’t depend on poker. Most of my friends don’t even realize that as a poker player you have a lot of entrepreneurial skills. You have a strong mindset, are capable of thinking logically without getting affected by your emotions, you are capable of finding profitable investments and know how to protect your wealth (bankroll) but most importantly you know what it means to grind.
If you can sit in front of a computer playing six to seven days a week eight to ten hours a day and then, when finally you can have a little time off, you still spend hours talking, thinking and studying to become the best version of yourself, you can create anything you want to create. Having that kind of hustle is the secret to success.
The reason I wrote this specific blog post is because I want to inspire people who go through life wanting to do more then what they are doing right now. Inspire them to think about their future, what path they want to should take and where they should start. Even if you still enjoy playing poker or any other job you’ve got right now, think about your future. Do you think that the games will be beatable enough for you to continue? Is there a future in what you do now? Do you see yourself doing this for the next ten years? And what about after that?
If you start planning your future today, perhaps in two to three years, you can actually make a living from something you’ve always dreamed of.
Success comes with time
The success you see in other people never came overnight.
Take Justin Bieber for example, one of the biggest pop idols in the world today. Before showing off his skills on YouTube and being discovered by a record label, he put in the work. Even if he was only twelve years old, he invested multiple hours ever day, seven days a week, from the moment he could talk.
Before putting his first video on YouTube he already had years of work behind him but after he was discovered the real work only began.
He worked harder then most artists did. He literally outworked many of them. He had to deal with criticisms, ridicule and negativity from all the pessimists in the world before, after years and years of work, he finally got recognized as the superstar he is today.
Success takes years of experience and hard work. Being a poker player gave you the fundamental skills to start and create an amazing future for yourself outside of poker. Take control of your future and start designing it.
I’m offering coaching to fellow poker players who want to discover themselves and help them find a way to create a reliable income outside of poker. Even if you still enjoy playing right now and plan not to give up on poker within the next three years, wouldn’t it be smart to work towards creating an income for when you do decide to quit?
If you want to know more, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I look forward to help you work towards building your future.