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Old 05-30-2017, 10:27 PM   #1
Cameron8000
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Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been.

I was a victim of the Chris Moneymaker poker boom. “Victim” makes it seem like I somehow got scammed or conned by the shadowy world of online poker, but this was not this case. Instead, it might be worse.

I became infatuated with the game of poker when I was around 16 or 17. I deposited online with my mom’s credit card and ran 50 bucks up to ~350 within a week. Variance caught up to me and I was broke a few days later. But I was hooked. I loved the game. I was going to be a professional poker player.

I picked up some poker books at our local, used bookstore, pirated Harrington on Hold’em (volumes 1 & 2), and devoured Doyle’s Super System.

Black Friday hit a few months after my 21st birthday, but realistically, I was a break-even player online. No biggie, I thought. The live games were softer anyway. I spent 2 weeks of the next winter break in Las Vegas, playing live 1-2 and 2-5 (mostly 1-2, but shot took some VERY juicy 2-5 games) 10-14 hrs a day. I was living my dream. Wake up in Vegas, find a poker game, grind for 12 hours, rinse and repeat. As winning. And I was alive.

Working around a challenging university schedule, the next year I spent the entire winter break in Vegas. I was grinding harder than ever and enjoyed much of the same success that I had experienced my first extended stay. Then NYE happened. I met up with another aspiring pro from the 2+2 poker forums, and we went out to drink and bring in the new year. He had a bit more degenerate in him than I did, but I ended up taking half of his action in a Pai Gao game he was in, betting 500 a hand. Within 30 minutes I had lost all of my profit from the previous 2-3 weeks.

Vegas had beat me that winter, but it wasn’t poker that beat me, it was the pits. I vowed to forever stay away, and I have, with the exception of a tradition I have where every time I travel back to Vegas, the first wager I make is a 100 dollar bill on a roulette color to satisfy my inner degen. That’s it though.

My main problem with grinding the live games in Vegas, is that I have to be there alone to do it. If I’m there with a group of friends, the last thing I want to do is sit sober at a poker table for 8 hours while they’re out at a pool party drinking and talking to beautiful women who are out of our league, but pretend to be interested in us for the booze. Most of the following trips to Vegas were spent doing just that.

As I got older and consumed more poker content, I started to notice the general disenchantment among a lot of professional players. Everywhere I looked, poker players – winning poker players - were nearly all encouraging aspiring pros to find a career elsewhere. “I was you. I was excited about the game. I loved poker. But ten years later, man I wish I had chosen to do something else”. Stories from pros who didn’t like playing, but had no choice due to their lack of ‘real’ work experience were rampant. Is it possible that a decade down the road, I could feel the same?

I can still remember the moment I decided to pursue a career in Software Engineering. I was scrolling twitter and Phil Galfond had replied to someone’s tweet saying they should find a different career to chase. If Phil was saying it, man, there had to be something real there. So, I did just that. I stopped spending time studying the game and started spending time learning how to program. I graduated college and got hired into an entry level programming position in Austin, TX and made the move.

My first winter in Austin, our company basically shutdown for the week between Christmas and New Years so I made the 4 hour drive up to the Winstar in Oklahoma for a 9 day stay. I played ~80 hours of 1-3 and 2-5 and came out up about 4500 dollars. That was more than a months pay at my entry level position. Boy did I consider not coming back.

I managed to convince myself that there was no way the games were always this good, and frankly, I’m certain they weren’t. Also, in that part of Texas/Oklahoma, there really isn’t much around besides the casino and a small town built around a Wal-Mart. I talked myself into believing that I’d be miserable soon enough., so I took my profits and returned to my 9-5.

Three years later, I’ve doubled my salary as a Software Engineer, I work at an exciting, young company with new technology, and I STILL question that decision to make the drive back to Austin.

For those paying attention to the poker world, there is an incredible tournament happening at the moment: The Super High Roller Bowl, a 300k entry at the Aria. I’ve been keeping up with the action the past two days, and the sickness is back. With the WSOP starting tomorrow, I can’t help but dream of Vegas and the months I spent there grinding and chasing my dream. I sincerely recall those times as some of the absolute best of my life.

I’ve resigned to saving up a roll and spending 7 weeks my city of dreams next summer, but I can’t help and think this desire will fade.

Not sure what my goals were with this post, but I felt like I needed to get it out. Thanks for reading.
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Old 05-30-2017, 10:45 PM   #2
FRGCardinal
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

Thanks for sharing. Keep that 9-5, bud. Just view the poker as a money-making hobby, and keep it under control. Good luck.
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Old 05-31-2017, 05:55 PM   #3
cushlash
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

From someone who went the other way at the poker-or-real-world fork, you made the right decision. Wondering "what if" you'd be playing in the 300k high roller had you made the other decision would be like me wondering if I'd be the founder of a multi-million dollar startup company had I gone the other way. Both are extreme outlier outcomes and quite frankly the real world outliers are doing much better than poker outliers.
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Old 05-31-2017, 07:38 PM   #4
WiCane
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

No one can really tell someone else what the right decision is for them.
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:15 PM   #5
JoseJohnnyJimJack
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

How about getting a similar job in Vegas and doing both?
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:03 AM   #6
LordRiverRat
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

Definitely smart getting a real job but don't use the word victim. There are no victims. If poker wasted years of your life that's your fault and your fault only. And I'm saying that as someone who grinded 50NL on Pokerstars for 2 years which got me nowhere.
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Old 06-01-2017, 01:38 PM   #7
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

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Originally Posted by LordRiverRat View Post
And I'm saying that as someone who grinded 50NL on Pokerstars for 2 years which got me nowhere.
OUCH
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:24 PM   #8
Dream Crusher
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

The dream isn't what it's cracked up to be except for a very small number of people like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:58 AM   #9
LEMONZEST
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

I am a 9-5 guy and I don't regret it at all. I am surprised OP that you still think it would have been a good idea...

I think the older you get the more you start to realize that chasing the poker dream is a bad idea in almost all cases. All the reasoning has been explained at length in these forums so I won't rehash it all.

As with any novelty the enjoyment from playing poker diminishes over time. Take video games for example. When I sit down to play a solid 4 hour video game session I have so much fun. OTOH if it was my job to play video games for money and had to grind video games 10 hours a day and rely on it for my income I am pretty sure my enjoyment would fade quickly.

I could probably enjoy being on the poker grind for 6 months to a year...but what about after 2 years? 4 years? Regardless of profit, let's assume you consistently win. I still don't think it would be very fun/rewarding.

As a working stiff I am heading to Vegas next week and I am excited as ever to sit down and play poker for 4 days or so. Because I have a secure job I really don't care if I lose my whole roll for that weekend. I can just play, drink and have fun with no stress.
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Old 06-02-2017, 01:10 PM   #10
gamboolman
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

Cam...

Thanks for sharing. You are doing right young man - well done.

I'm 40+ years in the oilfield. God willing soon to retire.

Poker is fun - I started out on Paradise, Planet, and Party and live in Biloxi in the mid / latter 90's....

Point being.... hard work has allowed me to play cards for fun and to have fun with it.....blowing off afew grand at cards a couple times per year is fun. Sometimes I win and thats fun too !

I hope to soon join the OMC rank full-time.

Keep working hard - it has and is already paying off !

Ms. gamboolgal and I will be coming in from work/Africa....in to Texas in July and are looking forward to a fun July spaztastic donkalishish times along the Gulf Coast......our only criteria is for the table to be fun and enjoyable....
Win or lose.....not a big issue.......I love snapping off regs with trash.....ha

Only way we can do that is from my job.....

You did right about that drive back to Austin !

Hang tuff pawdnaaaahhhhhh
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:33 PM   #11
sw_emigre
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

When I was 24 I moved to Spain to try and become my generation's Ernest Hemmingway. I drank a ton, worked as a chef, and everything I wrote stunk ass. It was the best time of my life. But there's no way in hell I wanted to be a drunk kitchen slave my whole life. Now I'm halfway through life, decent income, and over 6 figures in the bank. Things worked out ok.

Even if those were the best years of my life.
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:53 AM   #12
3fiveofdiamonds
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

You made the right decision. I moved to Vegas in 2003 and played mid limit poker for a living for 11 years. To be successful at poker you have to work it like a job. The freedom everyone talks about, while technically true, isn't the reality. The successful grinders are in the poker room at the same time everyday, day in and day out, working.

I made decent money, I wasn't chasing promotions or living super frugal to get by, but unless you are playing and winning at high enough stakes to make a passive income, it's not worth it. It leaves you too far behind.
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Old 06-03-2017, 05:39 PM   #13
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron8000 View Post
I was a victim of the Chris Moneymaker poker boom. ďVictimĒ makes it seem like I somehow got scammed or conned by the shadowy world of online poker, but this was not this case. Instead, it might be worse.

I became infatuated with the game of poker when I was around 16 or 17. I deposited online with my momís credit card and ran 50 bucks up to ~350 within a week. Variance caught up to me and I was broke a few days later. But I was hooked. I loved the game. I was going to be a professional poker player.

I picked up some poker books at our local, used bookstore, pirated Harrington on Holdíem (volumes 1 & 2), and devoured Doyleís Super System.

Black Friday hit a few months after my 21st birthday, but realistically, I was a break-even player online. No biggie, I thought. The live games were softer anyway. I spent 2 weeks of the next winter break in Las Vegas, playing live 1-2 and 2-5 (mostly 1-2, but shot took some VERY juicy 2-5 games) 10-14 hrs a day. I was living my dream. Wake up in Vegas, find a poker game, grind for 12 hours, rinse and repeat. As winning. And I was alive.

Working around a challenging university schedule, the next year I spent the entire winter break in Vegas. I was grinding harder than ever and enjoyed much of the same success that I had experienced my first extended stay. Then NYE happened. I met up with another aspiring pro from the 2+2 poker forums, and we went out to drink and bring in the new year. He had a bit more degenerate in him than I did, but I ended up taking half of his action in a Pai Gao game he was in, betting 500 a hand. Within 30 minutes I had lost all of my profit from the previous 2-3 weeks.

Vegas had beat me that winter, but it wasnít poker that beat me, it was the pits. I vowed to forever stay away, and I have, with the exception of a tradition I have where every time I travel back to Vegas, the first wager I make is a 100 dollar bill on a roulette color to satisfy my inner degen. Thatís it though.

My main problem with grinding the live games in Vegas, is that I have to be there alone to do it. If Iím there with a group of friends, the last thing I want to do is sit sober at a poker table for 8 hours while theyíre out at a pool party drinking and talking to beautiful women who are out of our league, but pretend to be interested in us for the booze. Most of the following trips to Vegas were spent doing just that.

As I got older and consumed more poker content, I started to notice the general disenchantment among a lot of professional players. Everywhere I looked, poker players Ė winning poker players - were nearly all encouraging aspiring pros to find a career elsewhere. ďI was you. I was excited about the game. I loved poker. But ten years later, man I wish I had chosen to do something elseĒ. Stories from pros who didnít like playing, but had no choice due to their lack of Ďrealí work experience were rampant. Is it possible that a decade down the road, I could feel the same?

I can still remember the moment I decided to pursue a career in Software Engineering. I was scrolling twitter and Phil Galfond had replied to someoneís tweet saying they should find a different career to chase. If Phil was saying it, man, there had to be something real there. So, I did just that. I stopped spending time studying the game and started spending time learning how to program. I graduated college and got hired into an entry level programming position in Austin, TX and made the move.

My first winter in Austin, our company basically shutdown for the week between Christmas and New Years so I made the 4 hour drive up to the Winstar in Oklahoma for a 9 day stay. I played ~80 hours of 1-3 and 2-5 and came out up about 4500 dollars. That was more than a months pay at my entry level position. Boy did I consider not coming back.

I managed to convince myself that there was no way the games were always this good, and frankly, Iím certain they werenít. Also, in that part of Texas/Oklahoma, there really isnít much around besides the casino and a small town built around a Wal-Mart. I talked myself into believing that Iíd be miserable soon enough., so I took my profits and returned to my 9-5.

Three years later, Iíve doubled my salary as a Software Engineer, I work at an exciting, young company with new technology, and I STILL question that decision to make the drive back to Austin.

For those paying attention to the poker world, there is an incredible tournament happening at the moment: The Super High Roller Bowl, a 300k entry at the Aria. Iíve been keeping up with the action the past two days, and the sickness is back. With the WSOP starting tomorrow, I canít help but dream of Vegas and the months I spent there grinding and chasing my dream. I sincerely recall those times as some of the absolute best of my life.

Iíve resigned to saving up a roll and spending 7 weeks my city of dreams next summer, but I canít help and think this desire will fade.

Not sure what my goals were with this post, but I felt like I needed to get it out. Thanks for reading.

You are me, except I played for a living for years. Now I work in casino business and am hoping to get into software. You have absolutely made the right decision.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:22 PM   #14
michelle227
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

What works for one is not right for someone else. I'm pushing 50. Never really played much online and, for all intents and purposes, did not come into poker until 2007.

For me, live play entailed deciding on a Friday to take one of those cheap ExpressJet flights from Austin to New Orleans, complete with the dollar beer, and with a room at the W across the street from Harrahs. Later it became cheap round-trip specials on Continental, although those dried up with the merger.

I have done both the stay-up-all-night thing and the 'treat it like work' thing. I actually have more fun treating it like work...fly in and get a night of sleep and then go over around 5:30 or 6:00AM to try and pick off the drunks who are stuck. Play for three to four hours and then go back to the room then follow the rest of my routine. I then go back late afternoon and play for about four or five hours before returning to the room to sleep. Rinse lather and repeat.

I dipped my toes in the WSOP waters last summer and am making a more concerted effort this year, with three trips in three weeks. I still have to balance clients with my desire to play tournaments. Week one was last week, and ended with a final table on one event and getting bounced within sight of the money in another. My costs are covered for the month even though I already had enough cash to cover tournaments anyhow.

Do I want to retire from my current career to play poker? At times it is a notion that crosses my mind. However, it is not something I view as a viable option simply because I don't want my daily life to revolve around the poker table. I also do not know that I would have the willpower to avoid playing higher stakes than I should simply because the money was there to afford the buy-ins. So the easy solution is to hit the Circuit events that have the games I prefer and to try and balance the summer Series with work and just consider the $15-20K in buy-ins and travel expenses to be what I would have potentially spent on vacation or other fun.
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Old 06-15-2017, 11:18 AM   #15
Win2014WSOP
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoseJohnnyJimJack View Post
How about getting a similar job in Vegas and doing both?
This. Doing one thing 40-60 hours/week, whether it be poker or a standard job, is a grind. Will get old.

You can start a side business with your software skills. Once your income from that is enough you can move to Vegas. Then your "work" time can be split between the business/freelance software gigs and poker. I'm working towards a similar set up now.

Not sure why people in this thread are framing it as an either/or decision.
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Old 06-15-2017, 11:54 AM   #16
Tim Brice
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Re: Reflections of a 20-something grinding a 9-5, left only to dream about what could have been

I really don't understand why you have to do one or the other.

I work a 9-5 corporate gig and play around 30 hours of live poker a week. If I wanted to, I could fire up some tables on my days that I don't play live poker and play some more.

I think there is a legalized card room in Austin now and I am sure the games are pretty soft.
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