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Old 10-09-2015, 07:27 PM   #1
cushlash
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Share your "I quit professional poker" story

As a professional poker player who's been looking, albeit passively, at going in a different direction for quite some time now, its been interesting to read the threads from people asking for advice about what they should do. I've noticed that a lot of advice is coming from those who have quit poker themselves, and I would really like to hear more details from them as I think it would help people such as myself who are looking to do something else.

I'm not asking for advice on my situation, I'm just really curious about all the people on here that have quit poker for something else. For those willing to share, post up some/all of the following:

Brief background and what you were playing (live/online, cash/tournaments)
Why you quit
What you're doing now
Whether or not you are happy with your decision to quit
Challenges you faced while transitioning
Anything else you think is important/noteworthy

Feel free to share as little or as much as you want about your situation and experience with quitting. Thanks in advance for responses.
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:04 PM   #2
SellerD'or
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

-Online 6-max LHE, huge winner from 2005-2010

-Poker had become repetitive and boring; games were getting dryer and dryer; but the main reason in hindsight was that high-stakes LHE had become a constant angleshoot. The winningest players weren't the best any longer, they were the players who could bumhunt random fish for 15-hand sessions the best. I had won lots and lots of money and the game had become pretty miserable; it was time to move on. This was circa 2011-12, I haven't played since then so I don't know what the situation is like now.

-After leaving poker I spent three years on a pursuit that had no real financial payoff but massive personal meaning. This year I've started a business that's going much better than even my lofty expectations for it.

-Happy.

-No real challenges; quitting poker was a great move at the time that I did. I had fallen out of love with the game and I had a meaningful alternate pursuit to invest my energy into. In fact I probably waited a year or two too long in hindsight (but I couldn't have known that at the time).

Poker is a worthwhile lifestyle for extremely few people. It's probably not worth it for you (you being a random person reading this). It was beneficial for me overall but I was really very successful. And still, it cost me a lot in different (non-financial) ways. Poker necessitates a bizarre, asymmetrical life; happiness comes from balance.
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Old 10-11-2015, 04:00 AM   #3
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by SellerD'or View Post
-Online 6-max LHE, huge winner from 2005-2010

-Poker had become repetitive and boring; games were getting dryer and dryer; but the main reason in hindsight was that high-stakes LHE had become a constant angleshoot. The winningest players weren't the best any longer, they were the players who could bumhunt random fish for 15-hand sessions the best. I had won lots and lots of money and the game had become pretty miserable; it was time to move on. This was circa 2011-12, I haven't played since then so I don't know what the situation is like now.

-After leaving poker I spent three years on a pursuit that had no real financial payoff but massive personal meaning. This year I've started a business that's going much better than even my lofty expectations for it.

-Happy.

-No real challenges; quitting poker was a great move at the time that I did. I had fallen out of love with the game and I had a meaningful alternate pursuit to invest my energy into. In fact I probably waited a year or two too long in hindsight (but I couldn't have known that at the time).

Poker is a worthwhile lifestyle for extremely few people. It's probably not worth it for you (you being a random person reading this). It was beneficial for me overall but I was really very successful. And still, it cost me a lot in different (non-financial) ways. Poker necessitates a bizarre, asymmetrical life; happiness comes from balance.
Thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, what was the post-poker pursuit that you say had a lot of personal meaning to you?

Also, could you elaborate a bit on what the costs of the poker lifestyle were on you?
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Old 10-11-2015, 05:27 PM   #4
rwillia789
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

- dropped out of university and made modest money playing poker for a year
- prop traded finance for 3 years while learning sports betting at the same time
- didnt renew contract as edge and limits small and 60 hours a week commitment
- pro sports bettor and regular traveler for last 2 years
- sports drying up so looking for the next project
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Old 10-11-2015, 05:33 PM   #5
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Great idea for a thread. As another pro looking to transition into something else over the next year or two, I'm also eager to see what kinds of responses pop up here. Thanks to all who have already contributed.
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Old 10-11-2015, 05:59 PM   #6
ChoiceAsBro
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Played FR, SH and HU NLHE casually for 1.5 years then full time for another 1.5. Moderately successful; terrible record keeper but l estimate I took ~$200k total off sites.

Quit following Black Friday. Wasn't having fun anymore. Online poker is anti-social and I was also having ethical concerns making my living exploiting others gambling addictions.

Now work in a major bank as a Relationship Manager for the Premier team (a middle ground between Retail and Private). Its basically a sales role for customers with income $150k - $500k. Loans, investments, insurance etc.

I enjoy it and feel it's a much better rounded life. I have more IRL friends now and am healthier and happier.
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:22 PM   #7
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Started playing HU LHE for a living in summer 2009. This was great to combine with my last year of university. After graduating I played full time for a while but I felt miserable being at home most of the time, lacking structure in my life and not having people around me.

2 months after Black Friday I found a job at a insurance company which was below my education level but moved on to better job a year later.

When I started working I still played poker on the side but the HU LHE games completely dried up and I discovered that I sucked at other games. End of 2012 I played my last hand of online poker. I still lurk around on 2+2 and listen two the pokercast but have no interest to play a hand.

I still wonder if I would have made more money if I had never played poker and had a better career start. Not that it matters, I'm happy for the life experience it brought and how it trained me in analytical thinking and seeing thing from an EV perspective.

Why you quit
Games where drying up, wasn't happy being at home, getting a job would get harder the longer I waited
What you're doing now
Manage a marketing team at an online business
Whether or not you are happy with your decision to quit
Yes
Challenges you faced while transitioning
Not being able to find a job (job market also sucked that time and didn't really know what I was looking for)
Anything else you think is important/noteworthy
Had one of my biggest months in poker right after Black Friday on US facing sites

Last edited by Kulk; 10-14-2015 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 10-16-2015, 07:34 AM   #8
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Played poker throughout college and for 3 years after graduating (2005 to 2010). NL 6 max 5/10 in college and mostly 2/4 after as the games got tougher. Made decent money, god was it easy in 2005 and 2006. Looking back in 2005 I think I was winning 5ptbb at 5/10 playing something stupid like 20/10 preflop and making mistakes that wouldnt enable me to beat 1/2 now. Of course I got better and was still winning when I quit but not at nearly the same rate.

In any case the plan was never to play poker long term, it was just a fun way to build up a bankroll when young and travel and take a couple of years off. I made sure to focus on school when in school and graduated deans honor list to ensure I could also go back to what I loved, investing. The 3 years I was off playing poker I made sure to finish off the CFA exams. Always important to stay involved and better yourself in the field you ultimately want to be in if you are playing poker imo.

Anyways after 2.5 years out of school it was time to get back into finance. Despite good marks was semi difficult finding a quality job. Part of the problem was I was applying for very competitive jobs and with no work experience it was a bit unrealistic for a stranger to hire me (sell side associate positions at big 6 banks in canada). In the end I offered to do a free internship at a small buyside shop. The founder's brother is a professional poker player (Jason Lester) so the interview was spent discussing poker strategies rather than explaining it wold be easy to quit. He also (correctly) views poker and the mentality needed to be a successful poker player as a plus vs others who dont get it.

Still at the same firm 4.5 years later and am a partner no so no real regrets. Weren't any real challenges, I was done with poker and I love investing so it was time to make the switch.
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Old 10-16-2015, 04:13 PM   #9
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

I posted in the other thread, but it's definitely worth it's own thread so I'll post again here.

Brief background and what you were playing (live/online, cash/tournaments)

Started live, eventually moved to almost all online. Cash poker, rakeback grinder, SNE two years.

Why you quit

My story feels similar to Ahnuld's above, though I'd wager with significantly less success in both arenas. I never intended to play poker forever. Settling down in one country in a LTR and being keen to experience 'the real world' with a stable income all probably contributed.

What you're doing now

Recruitment, mostly volume based. Huge amount of variance, lots of things going on at once, feels a lot like rb grinding a lot of the time. =P

Whether or not you are happy with your decision to quit

Definitely. Don't regret playing, don't regret quitting. If I could regret anything about poker it would be not pursuing it harder when it was soft as butter. In hindsight I probably could have deferred uni for a year back in 2005 and just grinded full time.

Challenges you faced while transitioning

Exhaustion at going in to an office every day. Huge interpersonal challenges, though that gets easier when you are interviewing 10+ people/week. Managing the "part-time grind".

Anything else you think is important/noteworthy

I would say if you are thinking about it you should just do it (make the switch). Have a back up plan and keep in touch with poker on the side a little just in case.
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:04 PM   #10
Jason Strasser (strassa2)
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Brief background and what you were playing (live/online, cash/tournaments): pretty high stakes NL, MTTs back in 2004-2007. Graduated in 2007 and decided to take a job at a bulge bracket bank trading derivatives.

Why you quit: never thought it would be a career. Not the upside I was looking for or the day-to-day life I wanted. Although looking back, I really do wish I had more free time to travel and do things like that...

What you're doing now: Started a hedge fund in 2012. HF websites are the worst, but you can see our team here: http://www.captionpartners.com . Not an advertisement. We're based in Oklahoma City but have an office in NY as well. Love it in OKC. Great life. Would be happy to talk about that more.

Whether or not you are happy with your decision to quit: At first it was a massive pay cut. I had my moments where I really thought about playing more poker (especially in 2008 when I thought I might be out of a job). But my job is so much more interesting than poker in my opinion. Day-to-day has so much more variety.

Challenges you faced while transitioning: My whole professional life has been one step backwards to try to take two steps forward. I've learned a ton, but it's been frustrating because I probably could have a lot more money right now if I had player poker a few more years, or stayed at a bank a few more years, etc. Also, we had a losing year running the fund and that was challenging for many reasons.

Anything else you think is important/noteworthy: I really think people underestimate the downsides of taking major career risks. The risk is not taking any risk.
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Old 10-20-2015, 10:18 PM   #11
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Brief background: I played HS MTTs and Full ring cash games up to 5/10 from 2005-2011. It took a lot of trials and tribulations but the last two years I became a very structured, disciplined grinder and never felt better... that's when black friday hit.

Why you quit: I tried playing live for 8 months after black friday. My skill set didn't transition live, I didn't play as well, hated casinos, hated the people i had to be around all day, wasn't making that much money.

What you're doing now: I went back to school, got a MBA and now I work in new york in an accounting consultancy role.

Happy with the decision or not: I am happy with the decision I made, I think I left poker at a good time, I can still grind the NJ sites and make decent money on the side. I think like many other people I'm struggling to find a role/company that I'd like to be at long term and at 32 I feel like I am behind the curve in the real world compared to the boatloads of smart 22-23 year olds coming out of school. I miss the poker life from 2007-2011, but I don't regret my decision to stop playing for a living.

Challenges: 6 year resume gap, lack of free time, long hours at the office... not feeling entrepreneurial and self-made. I would say that I'm less happy in my day to day life, but it's irrelevant because poker as a career for me present day isn't a viable career, the earning power isn't there.

Other important/noteworthy: I spent a year figuring out what I wanted to. I picked an accounting MBA program because it had a good program for getting jobs within the program. Make sure that you have a plan to maximize the chance of landing on your feet post poker.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:00 AM   #12
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

I've played poker for about 8 years and went through stretches where I'd attempted to quit (went back to school and got a job at some point) but never fully quit as I'd always played at least part-time. So not sure if I qualify for this thread but I'll throw in my story anyway.


Brief background and what you were playing (live/online, cash/tournaments)


In my early 30's, went to a good university and started playing in my senior year. I did graduate but did not work at a "real" job for about 6 years after that. I mostly played live mid-stakes (2-5 deep, 5/10) and dabbled a little online. I've always been extremely introverted so poker suited my personality. It enabled (note: "enabled" similar to a way alcoholics are enabled, because it inhibited growth) me to escape having to immerse myself with society.

I did okay in poker, making over $100k the first year (poker was super juicy back then) and continued to win $60-120k every year since, playing ~100 hours a month.

Why you quit

Around 3-4 years in, I thought about doing something else with my life. Solely playing poker was not fulfilling and it felt degenerate as a lifestyle as I'd keep vampire hours and couldn't retain much structure in my life since it revolved around games. Not to mention, others (especially those who misunderstand poker as hustling or pure gambling) often looked judged what I did. Basically, I felt like my life lacked meaning and I was ashamed to tell others what I did (hard to not care about what others think). So I thought about applying to some grad programs... Took prerequisites at a community college and did volunteer work. Never followed through to apply though; I simply wasn't passionate enough about any program to commit the time and money.

At around 6 years in, despite still doing okay in poker, I decided to say "eff it" and applied for jobs, since I wasn't ready for grad school (and didn't have the qualifications with a sparse resume anyway). Got hired in the social work sector and worked part-time almost 2 years. The work was very meaningful, but the pay was awful compared to poker (~$18/hour, plus getting nickel and dimed by the employer). I enjoyed the work and didn't do it for money, but there was also a lot of stress involved in the field. During this time, I continued to grind live poker since the job didn't pay well. The employer did provide the opportunity for me to move up and get paid more if I got a Master's (They would probably start me off at ~$50-60k with benefits, working 40+ hour a week) and it came time for me to make a decision - Either go for the Master's or quit, because I didn't want to keep burning time in the low paying job. I decided to quit to take a break, which brings me to the present.


What you're doing now

Just finished up traveling after quitting my job. I still want to explore other careers because games are getting drier and as I've mentioned, I already know poker is not something I want to do for the rest of my life. So I need to get off my ass and start working towards something new. But the temptation to go to the casino to make some easy bucks is always there, so I limit myself to playing 3 days a week and maintain a regular schedule (no staying up late or sleeping in)


Whether or not you are happy with your decision to quit

Even though I never fully quit, when I first started working again, I was a lot happier. It was partly the change of pace from staring at cards, dealing with swings and unsavory characters at the card room (disclaimer: I have made friends with and like many people in poker as well), and just feeling like I can apply my skills in a way that benefit others.

Challenges you faced while transitioning

Maintaining a regular schedule. Ironically, self-discipine became mandatory since I no longer worked for myself and couldn't cut myself any "breaks". Dealing with bureaucratic BS, inefficiencies and ass-kissing, which I'd always avoided while self-employed. I felt like I had to re-learn patience and dealing with others. Seriously, poker had really stunted my social skills as I'd become a lone wolf. There is a lot of BS in dealing with others. That's still something I have to learn and reconcile with.


Anything else you think is important/noteworthy


Even though I don't want to play poker full-time anymore, I respect those who do it, do it well, and are happy doing it. I don't regret playing poker. It gave me freedom and I made more money than I could've in my early 20's, which meant a lot to me coming from a poor family. It helped me learn that there's more to happiness than vast amounts of freedom and money. Sacrificing some freedom and money could provide me more meaning, which for me is crucial to happiness.
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:02 AM   #13
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

There's something I want to point out: the huge difference between working for someone else and being self-directed. There's definitely a different power-relationship. If you play poker, trade options, own and manage real estate, or run your own business, you are largely your own person and you answer to yourself first and foremost (particularly with poker and trading on your own account). When you work for someone else, there is the implication that you can get turfed or have your career stalled if your superiors deem it so. Your company can go into bankruptcy. You have to make sure you're pleasing the people above you and that you're keeping up "good relationships with key people at the company" etc. It's just a very different dynamic psychologically.

Yes, running your own business means you have to answer to customers, and it depends on what the nature of your business is, but most businesses are going to give you more autonomy and personal power-- if any particular customer doesn't like what you're selling, they don't have to buy it. You don't have one source of income, you have many.

I think this factor is underrated. For me, it's worth millions to be my own man and not be "owned". It would be very hard for me to work in a corporation for 10 years, week in week out taking orders from various bosses. Frankly it would be hard for 10 days.
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:06 AM   #14
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Strasser (strassa2) View Post
.

What you're doing now: Started a hedge fund in 2012. HF websites are the worst, but you can see our team here: http://www.captionpartners.com . Not an advertisement. We're based in Oklahoma City but have an office in NY as well. Love it in OKC. Great life. Would be happy to talk about that more.
How about an AMA about starting your fund? I would love to read/participate in that thread!
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:42 AM   #15
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

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Originally Posted by cottonseed1 View Post
How about an AMA about starting your fund? I would love to read/participate in that thread!
+1
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:18 PM   #16
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Yeah definitely interested as well.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:53 PM   #17
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Thanks to everyone who has shared so far, lots of great info/experience here.

Add me to the list of people wanting to know more about Strasser's hedge fund.
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Old 10-21-2015, 03:05 PM   #18
Jason Strasser (strassa2)
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Happy to answer any questions here
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Old 10-21-2015, 03:40 PM   #19
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Strasser (strassa2) View Post
Happy to answer any questions here
Do you enjoy the process of attracting new investors? Have you noticed many people withdrawing funds after your down-year? Do you feel (irrational) doubts about your strategies or still feel highly confident? Also, do your management fees cover all your operating costs?

My main interest is the comparison between a poker downswing and an underperforming year, both financially and emotionally.

(Currently still playing poker but CFA candidate, so with an eye on the future would appreciate any input/experiences)
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:25 PM   #20
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Strasser (strassa2) View Post
Happy to answer any questions here
Why did you decide to leave your previous job and go out on your own?

Could you briefly describe you strategy and where/why you have edge that exceeds the cost to your investors?

What is the most challenging part of running a fund? What do you like least about it and what do you like the most?

What is your biggest mistake so far and what have you learned from it? What is your biggest success?

Why Oklahoma City?
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:31 PM   #21
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by cushlash View Post
Thanks to everyone who has shared so far, lots of great info/experience here.

Add me to the list of people wanting to know more about Strasser's hedge fund.
This, thanks for the personal insight guys.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:38 PM   #22
Jason Strasser (strassa2)
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by rubenrtv View Post
Do you enjoy the process of attracting new investors? Have you noticed many people withdrawing funds after your down-year? Do you feel (irrational) doubts about your strategies or still feel highly confident? Also, do your management fees cover all your operating costs?

My main interest is the comparison between a poker downswing and an underperforming year, both financially and emotionally.

(Currently still playing poker but CFA candidate, so with an eye on the future would appreciate any input/experiences)
Frankly, sometimes I really enjoy fundraising, and sometimes it is very frustrating. I've learned a few things about it: don't hard sell, and keep expectations low. When I used to meet with investors I really tried to sell what we do, now I just focus on explaining what we do and why I am so excited about it. I'd rather be trading than selling though, any day.

Our strategy, which I can't get into too many details about, is like anything competitive. You have a good idea/framework, and then over time you get better and better at it and evolve with the opportunity. Certainly we had points where we were frustrated by results, but we were always confident what we were doing had real edge. It's just like poker, I'll look back at trades I did 2 years ago today and be like, wow I'm better than that now. Just like looking at a hand of poker from 2005 in 2007.

Management fees I don't want to get into too much about this, but basically when we started, it didn't cover the expenses, like most start ups.

As far as the downswing, it's harder for me to lose other people's money than my own money. So when we have a downswing, it is definitely more stressful for me than when I had a poker downswing. For various reasons you can probably relate to, I have been greatly desensitized to losing my own money!
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:59 PM   #23
Jason Strasser (strassa2)
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by cottonseed1 View Post
Why did you decide to leave your previous job and go out on your own?

Could you briefly describe you strategy and where/why you have edge that exceeds the cost to your investors?

What is the most challenging part of running a fund? What do you like least about it and what do you like the most?

What is your biggest mistake so far and what have you learned from it? What is your biggest success?

Why Oklahoma City?
The story why I left my job goes something like this. I used to work at big bank trading options. Loved it, learned a lot, got well paid. Had a great career path and worked with great people. However, I made the decision that I was young, and I always wanted to be on the buy-side and not just listening to customers all day. Joined a fund in equity research. Learned a ton, as I hadn't really done much stock picking. Then I had a really good idea for a strategy. My boss didn't agree, so I left and started my own fund.

I can't really get into what we do. It has to do with equity long/short volatility.

There most challenging thing we had to deal with by far, was when our first employee, a 26 year old, passed away in his sleep. In many ways that brought us closer together, but that was the worst moment of my life and was extremely challenging for all of us on the team. We are like family.

I really like the challenge of trading in a competitive market. I like doing more work and being as prepared as I can be when we trade. My least favorite part of the job used to be a lot of the non-trading things that have to be done as part of running a fund. Now that we're a little bigger I have a lot more help with that stuff.

My biggest mistake so far is an interesting question. We make mistakes all the time, it's part of the business. We always try to learn from them and improve. I can think of a million trades that I could've done better. Nothing really stands out. Fortunately, we haven't had any mistakes as far as personnel--I work with great people.

Why Oklahoma City? This article will explain a bit. But we had a choice, and an opportunity here, and I went for it. Costs are much lower here, as you might imagine. We still have 2 employees in NYC.

http://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/27/ex-ch...ar-hedgie.html
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:40 PM   #24
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

What is the process for finding investors?
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:45 PM   #25
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Re: Share your "I quit professional poker" story

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Strasser (strassa2) View Post
The story why I left my job goes something like this. I used to work at big bank trading options. Loved it, learned a lot, got well paid. Had a great career path and worked with great people. However, I made the decision that I was young, and I always wanted to be on the buy-side and not just listening to customers all day. Joined a fund in equity research. Learned a ton, as I hadn't really done much stock picking. Then I had a really good idea for a strategy. My boss didn't agree, so I left and started my own fund.

http://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/27/ex-ch...ar-hedgie.html
Have you been live testing the strategy on the side for a while? It seems insane to give up a job in order to pursue a strategy that may or may not work, and the success of the strategy will determine your income for the next few years. What gave you the confidence to take this risk?

What are you thoughts on trading OPM versus your own capital? I have been trading my own (from poker) for 3 years and never looked into trading OPM. It feels like the added responsibility (legal/infrastructure/accounting/marketing) and the possibility of making a -EV decision in order to satisfy your investors might not be worth it. Especially when you mentioned that it hurts more when you lose OPM.

What are your 2/5/10 years goal?
How did your fund fare in volatile times (Aug-Oct 2015)?
Are you accepting new investors?

Thank you for your time!
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