I Didn't Turn Pro With My $60,000
By now, most of you have heard about the Italian poker player who won $60k in a poker tournament, quit his job to turn pro and then couldn't get his money.
This story reminded me of a potential turning point in my life where I was thinking about possibly trying to play poker professionally.
It was late 2007 and I was contemplating what had been a fairly solid summer at the tables. I hadn't hit any type of life changing scores, but I was playing well enough that I felt that I would get there in time.
At the time, I was running a fairly successful data collection business that was tied into the mortgage industry. It was my safety net so to speak.
I had a small bankroll set aside, part from winnings and part from money I set aside from my business. It was around $60,000.
At the limits I was playing at, both tournaments and cash games, I felt that $60,000 was a good start if I was going to make a serious go at playing poker for a living.
I've always felt lucky that I aligned myself with some of the older players in the game, ones that have been involved before the glitz of the Poker Boom, and their advice during this time proved invaluable.
One of those men is Bill Boston. Some of you may have heard of him from his book about playing Omaha Hi-Lo Split.
Bill and I have been friends for quite some time and he educated me a great deal on not only how to play poker but also about the lifestyle. In addition, I have been friends with various other older players that have always shot straight with me about poker.
Bill knew my game, knew my potential, and said that he believed that I could turn pro. I had mentioned earlier in the year about turning pro and he asked me to evaluate my life, my expenses and my dedication to the game. Keep in mind, my intention was to continue playing live over online poker.
He also asked me to carefully watch those in the games around me, listen to what they were saying and how they lived their lives. This is possibly the piece of advice that ultimately helped mold my decision.
For several months, I paid close attention to everyone from wannabe pros to the elite players and watched how they lived, how they played and how flush they truly were with cash.
I saw "legends" of the game have to beg for stakes in a $200 buy-in NL game and poker millionaires blow through their bankroll in the matter of months to the point where they had to sell some of their toys to pay bills.
I also watched other so-called pro players eek out a meager existence barely able to make enough profit to eat and stay at extended stay hotels. In California, I was good friends with a regular backer whom had his hands in nearly every known poker player in a 50-mile radius. Some of these players were fantastic players, but couldn't manage money.
Were there success stories? Sure there were. I watched one friend win over $250,000 in a three days span. (He hasn't scored more than $14k in an event since.) Watched and played against many of the top pros, some of which took down hundreds of thousands. Most of them were backed partially or completely by online poker sites.
I watched both the good and the bad for months and decided that while I love the game, it quite wasn't the lifestyle I wanted. It is a hard way to make an easy living as they said, and I felt that I would burn out playing full-time.
Instead, I decided to take that money put back and pay off my home. I still owed around $60k on the home and talked the lien holder to take some money off if I paid it in cash.
A few months after making that decision, the safety net I had came apart thanks to the housing crash. Most of my clients outsourced to cheaper data sources and I ultimately transitioned into poker writing.
I'm writing this blog in the house that I used $60,000 to pay off. I didn't turn pro and it was the best decision I could have made in hindsight.
I wonder if the new Italian "pro" can look back in a few years and say the same.