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Old 02-19-05, 08:27 AM
TheRake TheRake is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 4
TheRake's Journal

Old 02-19-05, 08:27 AM
TheRake TheRake is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 4
Why I Play Poker

If a professional real estate agent goes a few months without selling any houses, maybe even loses money on a bad deal or two, does that mean he’s not a pro? How ‘bout an auto dealer, or a restaurant owner…if they have a bad quarter, especially when they first start out in their respective businesses, does it mean they are less than professional, failures even?

I don’t think so. And that’s why I don’t have a problem calling myself a professional card player. That’s right, card player. Poker specifically. More specifically, no-limit Texas Hold‘em. That’s my game. And no, I’m not a gambler. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a gambler. That’s a fine thing to be if you’re a good man besides, one whose word means something, who works hard at being what you are. But that’s not me. I’m a card player. You wouldn’t call a chess master a gambler, would you? How about a racecar driver? Salesman? Sports agent? Nope. They’re ‘professionals’. Never mind that they can all go a month, several months even, in some cases a year, without making a dime at their chosen career.

Here’s the difference. To me anyways. A gambler will say ‘I’ll bet you $500 bucks that you can’t drink this beer faster than I can’. Or maybe he’ll toss a couple red-resin cubes over a thousand dollars of his own money and say ‘Let it ride, I feel another seven coming’. That’s not me. I’ll look at 2 cards in front of me, and I’ll know that at least 80% of the time in this scenario, my aces are worth the risk. Eight out of ten times, if I push in my $1,000 in chips and get called, I’m going to win. You do the math. That’s over $6,000 in profit for ten split-second decisions. And here’s the beauty of it – if the other guy calls my bet, it’s his choice. I didn’t make him call me. I didn’t sucker or hustle him. He called my bet because he wanted my money. He thought that by calling me with his kings, or AK, or pocket sixes, he might just get it. 2 out of ten times or so, he will. If he thinks my scratching my chin or sipping my coffee meant I was bluffing, he has all the right in the world to pay $1,000 to find out. That’s not gambling, that’s competition.

There is a down side – sometimes, I am that other guy. Not as often as I used to be, but hell, there isn’t a card player out there that doesn’t make a bad call once in a while. Even the best of the best. Problem is, try telling your girlfriend that she doesn’t need to worry when you’re the other guy a couple weeks in a row. Sure, you lost the last ten sessions in a row with your pocket rockets, so you know the odds are such that over the next 90 times you push those chips in the middle of the table in that exact same scenario, you’re a favorite to win 80 times. There’s no almighty poker king that sits around saying ‘OK, two for you, eight for you, two for you, eight for you’…sometimes its ‘20 for you, 15 for the other guy, 40 for you, 5 for the other guy, 20 for you’. When you’re in the middle of one of those streaks of 20, you’re flying high…but anyone who’s ever spent more than 5 minutes playing professionally will tell you this-everyone in your life is waiting for the next time you lose ten or 15 in a row, and when you do, the word ‘gambler’ seems to replace ‘the’ in their vocabulary. So be it, I guess I’ll have to marry a poker player someday so I’ll be understood.

At least this is the way it is on the way to the top. I can’t tell you what it’s like on top, ‘cause I ain’t there yet. I’ve heard it’s nice, and that you can go twenty sessions in a row with ridiculous luck being thrown at you, and your bankroll isn’t an issue anymore. Check back with me in a year; I might have tasted enough of being on top to give you a clearer idea of what it’s like up there.

Why do I play poker? Even more important, why did I choose to play poker for a living? The answer is simple. I dunno. Not any more than you know why you chose your career. Maybe it chose you. Maybe you hated everything else. Maybe somewhere inside you, you just knew it was what you would be your best at. Maybe you wanted to make it big and give something back to the world. Maybe nothing else challenged you enough. Maybe it was to piss everyone off around you. It’s all those things for me, I suppose. One more reason though, for sure…I like pulling multi-colored clay chips towards me. I like it a lot. I like the click-click-click they make when I stack them. I like when I can’t do it all in one pull, when there are so many out there that I need to stand up and rake my hands over the pot a few times to get ‘em all. Is that greed? You betcha. But not any more greedy than the guy who is happy to run his paycheck to the bank, or close a deal, or get a raise, or find a $100 bill on the street.

Here’s the thing though – money isn’t everything. If it was, I sure as hell wouldn’t have picked this gig, because you spend a hell of a lot more time broke than anything else, at least when you start out. I want to be a multi-gazzillionaire, this is true, and I think I have a better chance of getting there with poker than anything else. What will I do if I ever get there? With the money, that is? I’m going to give the majority of it away. Yep, I said it, and I meant it. To churches, missions, homeless, handicapped, poor, and otherwise unfortunate and/or needy causes. Yeah, I’ll keep some for my time, make sure my son goes to college, has a good start in life…I’ll have nice things, a comfortable home, maybe a wife someday, and hopefully money won’t be as big of a stressor as it has been most of my adult life. I might go to seminary, if they’ll have me, because I definitely want to give my life to God. Go figure, a Christian poker player.

Why do I think my best chance is with poker? Is it because I suck at everything else? Am I not intelligent, talented, or charismatic enough to do well in another career? I sure don’t think that’s true – I’ve always excelled at anything I’ve put my mind to, one of those guys with ‘potential’. But here’s the rub – I get bored. Really bored. Is that a character flaw? Probably, but so what? It’s not the worst one a guy could have. My mind though, is like a 3 year old kid’s – never able to focus on anything too long unless I absolutely LOVE it. Once I know I could conceivably succeed in a given career – meaning, once I’ve paid my dues and know the ‘formula’ for success in that given profession, my mind starts looking forward…how long will it take to reach the top? What will I have to sacrifice? Will I be happy along the way? Will the disappointments along the way be worth it? Will I have the freedom to enjoy success once I have earned it? Will I have to do things I don’t enjoy or want to do or approve of, or even things I morally object to? I ask myself those questions, and I look at my careers before today – all sales/marketing/executive/suit-wearing stuff, and they don’t pass the tests, not even close. Come to think of it, I don’t think they pass a single test, let alone all of them. Strangely enough, poker does.

How about music? I’m a guitar player and songwriter. I’ve had the good fortune to be honored by many a fan or musician alike as being told among the best they’ve heard. Wonderful compliments those were, and greatly appreciated, although I think most of ‘em were drunk. God bless their dollar-tipping hearts. One catch with music though – you don’t rule your own destiny. You can be one of the greats, and if you don’t get the right folks around you playing and listening, you will never make a dime at it, and I know guys who have gone their whole lives working their asses of at it and they never ‘make it’. I’m not giving up on music – in fact, since I’ve started playing poker, I have joined a band, written and recorded some songs, and I will play more gigs this year than I have my whole life prior. Lots of freedom with this poker thing, heh heh. But I can’t put all my eggs in that basket. I need to earn a living, I want to earn a great living, and with music, you can do everything right and not get there.

Not true in poker. Sure, it’s not something anyone can do. You need a lot of emotional control, both when you’re winning and losing, you need to be pretty good at math, you need to be willing to study constantly, pathologically even, and you need to love the game enough to dedicate thousands of hours to it. Even with all of that, like in anything, you have to have an innate talent for the game, an instinctual one, one that probably can’t be taught, if you want to become the best. You add all of that up, and if you don’t come up short, and you manage to be right more than you’re wrong, you can control your own destiny in this game, the cards be damned. (Which they often seem to be).

That phrase – the best – is another great thing about the game for me, because it is really a red herring. You can’t ever really be THE best. How would you measure it? It’s like guitar – who was better, Jimi Hendrix or Andres Segovia? B.B. King or Eric Clapton? Depends on whom you ask. I’ve been told, at times, that I am as good as all of them (except Segovia), and I think whoever thinks that is off their rocker, but that’s a drunken fan for you. Again, God bless their tipping hearts. Poker players are similar. You ask Gus Hansen who the best is, and he might tell you Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, T.J. Cloitier…who knows. You ask some new kid playing today and he might say Gus Hansen. The Best, in poker, is an elusive title, and all you can hope for is that you get to play with the guys who are in the top twenty list at any given time, and beat ‘em, or at least hold your own against ‘em. That to me is a true challenge – one that constantly evolves, a moving target…you can set what you believe will be the ultimate goal for yourself, like playing the WSOP, you can get there, and realize upon arrival that you are clueless when compared to the real players. Or maybe you could win, being a long shot like Greg Raymer, and know, as I’m sure he must, that he has a long way to go before he can be called the best.

So here’s the question – do I have what it takes? Obviously I must think that I might, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. A few weeks ago I won an online tournament with an 800-player field. Tonight I got sucked out on half a dozen times and lost 10% of my bankroll – Mr. Brunson has occasionally gotten broke at this here game, so I don’t think it means I’m destined to fail. That night, against 800 other people, at least 50 of which were really trying to be the best, I was the best. Will I be the next time I play? I dunno. But I’m gonna find out. And sometime over the next 30 years or so, I’ll have figured out if becoming a professional poker player was a bad idea. If it was, I’ll try something else. Maybe racecar driving.
Old 03-11-05, 01:15 AM
TheRake TheRake is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 4
Long term vs. short term

There comes a time in any career where a person ahs a \'breakthrough\'. I just had mine, and I think it\'s worth sharing.

I\'ve been playing poker \'for the rent\' for about 6 months now, and while the rent\'s been getting paid, it\'s been by the skin of my teeth, if you know what I mean. I have not been getting ahead, just barely treading water. I have been playing No-Limit exclusively, and while Limit Hold\'em is how I built my bankroll to begin with, when I went pro, I left my limit game behind with my old job.

It was fine for a couple months. I was doing decent, steadily progressing, winning a tournament here and there, doing well in cash games, and then IT hit. The Streak. Sure, I was warned about it. All the top players write about how Streaks are inevitable. Well, it happened, right when I needed it NOT to. After a month of zero tournament profits and negative cash game returns, my formerly healthy bankroll was depleted to just below survival-level. What did I do? Played more. And lost more. And played more. And lost more.

Was there anything wrong with my poker decisions? Not when The Streak started. But by the time I was halfway into it, I couldn\'t play the odds anymore - I was desperate, trying to MAKE something happen, bluffing when I shouldn\'t, calling with second-best hands on the river, and afraid to waste money on draws when the odds were hugely in my favor.

I finally decided to sit back, analyze where my game was, where my head was, and where my bankroll was. Not pretty, none of \'em. My bankroll dictated that I should be playing limit poker again. There was simply no way I could handle the swing of another 2 or 3 bad sessions; I\'d have been flat busted. Problem was, limit poker wouldn\'t pay the bills at the limits I should be playing at. Job time? Close, very close.

Ah, but the shame of it...I couldn\'t bear crawling back into my industry, no way, wasn\'t gonna do it. So, I decided I would NOT decide, not yet. I would play limit poker again, where I knew I could expect a consistent profit, albeit a small one, and I would decide what I needed to do when I had at least a little confidence back. The desperate decision days had to end.

A few sessions into it, I\'m right back on track. And I remembered something, I actually LIKE limit poker, not because it\'s a better game (it isn\'t), but because it PAYS so well. And when you need MONEY, this is a good thing.

So, I take a look at my bankroll - just a little bigger, not much, but the bleeding has stopped. I looked at my finances. I was going to be behind for a few weeks. Sure, I could go play a NL game and catch up in a few hours if I got lucky, or I could bite the bullet, play limit, and put off gratification for a while. I took option 2.

Viola! I\'m back in the game. Caught up on finances, winning again, feeling better about myself, and optimistic about the road ahead.

Here\'s what I learned:

1. No-Limit is a LONG term game, not a short term game. The variance (swing) is too high to play NL for a living unless you can literally afford several weeks of losing LOTS of money.

2. Limit is a SHORT term game. When you hit a bad run, it will hurt less, much less, than No-Limit, and you can count on SMALL but consistent short term rewards for solid play.

3. I enjoy winning more than I enjoy saying \'I only play no-limit\'.

4. To win $1,000 at No-limit, you might have to risk $500 in one hand. To win $1,000 in limit, you might never have to risk more than $100 in one hand.

4. $1,000 won in a Limit game over 8 hours is just as spendable as $1,000 dollars won in a No-Limit game in one pot.

5. 10 losses in a row at limit can cost you 20% of your bankroll. 10 in a row in No-Limit can make you go look for a job.

I still love No-Limit. It will always be my #1 game, and I will be back at it soon enough. But for now, I\'m going to take the consistent profit per hour of limit poker, and I will be sure to have a much bigger bankroll when I move back to playing No-Limit exclusively.

Hope this helps someone in a similar dilemna!


\"If you can\'t spot the sucker....\"
Old 05-22-05, 01:36 AM
syko syko is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1
Re: Why I Play Poker

Very cool, man. Wish you lots of success. Would wish you luck, but that ain\'t what it\'s about long-term.
Old 03-13-18, 12:59 AM
MosesDaniel MosesDaniel is offline
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 4
Me too wishing you a lot of success since i'm a beginner have got to know something about poker pro...

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