Poker is cool. Being able to play poker to pay bills is also cool. Unfortunately, there are some consequences to this profession. I’ve mentioned before about the ‘opportunity cost’ of playing poker. Most poker players think along the lines of the time spent NOT playing poker, is “X”bb/100 or $X/hr down the drain. This is a perfectly accurate and logical thought, but it can dangerous for the bigger things in life.
If you can make 500k playing poker this year, well a: your probably not reading this and b: I’m not really talking to you. But if you are grinding the micro stakes, looking to build your roll, and come up through the ranks…listen up.
Playing poker for a living can often be like chasing a ghost. You have wins here and there, you study, you practice, you talk about hands with friends, you watch videos on Cardrunners. At the end of a successful year, lets say you are up $15k. That’s great! And well above average in terms of the poker economy.
What’s not so great is what that $15k cost you in terms of real world time. Think about all the social functions you skipped out on during the year because you were deep in a tournament and just couldn’t get away. If poker was your fulltime job, think about all the conversations you missed out on at an office, on the bus, on the street, at the golf course. All because you were chained to your desktop playing 20tables of .05/.1.
Now, I’m not trying to suggest there aren’t benefits to this type of lifestyle. There certainly are: freedom, flexibility, travel. I guess its just the fact that the poker community starts to feel a little incestuous at times. It is a small small world, where many people in the poker world over value themselves, and what they are contributing to society.
Personally, for me to live a fulfilled life I need social connections. Money comes and goes. But without friendships, new and old, a significant other, and family.. you just don’t have much else. I am concerned for a lot of people having moderate success online at a young age. If you won $100k last year it can be tough to balance the proposition of looking for an entry level job paying you $45k/year. That’s assuming you graduated from college and haven’t dropped out yet. But try not to look at the dollar figure. Try thinking along the lines of the people you are going to meet, the projects you are going to learn about, and the skills you are going to gain.
Having friends in the poker world is great. But, I’d argue it’s more important to have friends that don’t care about who check raised you on the turn with a gutter ball and got there on the river.
I guess what got me thinking about this is the fact that I’m writing this from a rooftop deck, overlooking Alcatraz, on a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by people I don’t even know. It’s a cool concept called Jelly founded by this guy named Amit Gupta. He’s smart, and runs a site called Photojojo.
Basically the premise behind Jelly is to have a social gathering at a place where people can work on projects of all kinds. There are a bunch of programmers and creative type people at this thing, and that’s mainly a function of the types of people that can randomly show up someplace to work. Your typical 9 to 5 doesn’t allow you that much flexibility.
Generally, I do most of my work from home or in a hotel room. Most of the time by myself, or a very small group of people. It’s not always that great. As annoying as the micro-managing boss can be about sending you those emails every five seconds, or the office water-cooler type chatter that you could care less about there is still some value to those social interactions.
The way we communicate is changing. Facebook, Texting, and Email are the primary ways I talk to my closest circle of friends. Phone calls are becoming a lot less common. In person contact is becoming even more rare. Is this good? I don’t know, but I know Jelly concepts are great.
Final words of wisdom: Go outside and explore, and meet the random dude sitting next to you on the bus.