Pro’s Thoughts: Cons of the Poker Lifestyle

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Black Friday could be a blessing in disguise. Arguably, online poker has bred a generation of asocial individuals obsessed with poker. Most poker players find themselves staying in on the weekends rather than going out and socializing. The reason is simple enough, during the weekends, the games are bigger. And as a professional, it’s almost required to surround yourself around the juiciest games.   Jon “Wein” Wein of Tournament Poker Edge talks about how he truly dislikes poker, and that he’s “a slave to the schedule.” He lost most his contacts before poker as their lifestyles are just too different.

Even the very best in the game, despite making millions, feel “lonely.”  In an interview for CardPlayer Lizzy Harrison asked high stakes regular David “Viffer” Peat, “What is the best part of playing poker for a living?”

[box]I’ll be honest with you, I used to love the lifestyle, but I have realized that it is not fulfilling. The money keeps me playing, though. Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, I was playing in a $100-$200 game and ended up talking to this kid who told me that he was one year away from finishing law school, but he was going to give it all up to play poker. I told him that I would trade my lifestyle, and all of the money I have, to be one year from graduating from law school and owing a bunch of money, [and] having a chance at a real life. Poker leads to a lonely life, and you don’t ever get a sense of accomplishement. The only fulfillment for a poker player is winning money, that’s it.” – David “Viffer” Peat[/box]

It doesn’t stop with Viffer. In his “well” on TwoPlusTwo, Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond stated:

[box]Most pros love the freedom that poker gives them but it becomes a very restricting job actually. Much more consuming than a real one. For me at least. The problem is that we think of things in hourly rate, and we can work pretty much whenever we want. I hate it so much when I’m out with friends and just having an okay time and I think to myself “I could be working now. I wonder how much money this is costing me.” Or when I weight the decision to go hang out with friends against the decision to work. It’s not like I’m starving. I can afford to take some time off and be a person, but it’s so hard for me, and I’d imagine, for some other players.[/box]

Unlike Galfond though, many players are “starving”. Not literally, but starving for their first major final table, starving to climb up limits, starving to make more money. Seemingly the only thing that forces us to take time off is a brutal downswing, where we convince ourselves that we’re going to quit poker (if you haven’t been there yet, I’m sure you will!). Other than that, it’s hard to pull yourself away from the game. It’s just too easy to convince that you’re better than you actually are, it’s too easy to convince yourself that “I’ve just been running way under EV,” too easy to convince yourself that tomorrow’s another day.  It’s almost like quitting isn’t an option.

Questions to our readers:

  • How many players do you know who walked away from poker with their bankroll intact?
  • What motivates you to play?
  • If I offered you 100 buy-ins at your current limit, to quit poker forever, would you take it?
  • And finally, what are some PROS for the poker lifestyle?
Category : Lifestyle
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