As professional poker players, we are often bombarded with questions like, “what would you do if it didn’t work out?” Personally, I never gave it much thought or credence, for such hypotheticals seemed like a waste of mental energy. Why ask Picasso what he would do if he didn’t paint? Who cares right? (Not to insult him with a comparison.) Ah, the irony. For some, contemplating this matter has never seemed more relevant. Given the recent events of “Black Friday,” the poker community has taken a hit comparative to what some people claim is tantamount to the stock market crash of 1929. Personally, I’m not quite as dramatic. I can sum up my thoughts on Black Friday in one word, relief. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things to happen to the poker industry. “Blasphemy” you say! What about all the money lost in the in endorsements, our “jobs” and the future of poker? In these times of uncertainty, it’s easy to only focus on the immediate pain of monetary loss, but in doing so we are only taking into account one piece of the puzzle. For in order to solve the puzzle, we must first have all the pieces.
While being a professional poker player has granted me some amazing experiences, I often find myself questioning my line of work. At the end of the day, what have I created, produced and changed? Nothing. Who have I influenced by the fruits of my labor? Nobody. I believe a vastly underweighted reason pro poker players often lack contentment is they have nothing to show for their energy spent, except perhaps an extra 0 on their Full Tilt account. Given that playing poker professionally allow for a flexible lifestyle, it should be easy to dedicate time to our external passions right? But when it comes down to it, I’ve found this to be one of the most difficult things to do. I often wonder in what capacity poker grants us freedom when we feel compelled to chase losses, play endless hours and are held captive by a mere computer screen, 15 inches across? In the same way people become bound to their possessions, if we aren’t careful to practice the utmost discipline, we too become bound to poker. Thankfully, we can always count on the U.S. government to be a source of liberation, right ? Gone are the countless hours grinding our lives away, the sleepless nights, mental anguish and unhealthy stress. Once again, the U.S. has broken the chains and set the captives free! Now, we must live.
The looming question is still left buzzing around in our heads like a swarm of bees. What am I going to do now? The way I see it, when you have nothing to do, you are free to do anything you want! But there are always two sides to every coin. One can contend, I have half my roll locked up online, can no longer make money online and my industry is sinking like the Titanic. This is the worst day of my life. Pity. Or you can reason, sure I have some money frozen, but I’m still going to get up tomorrow and do the exact same thing as I did yesterday when I had access to it. It’s a relief when you realize that your daily life doesn’t change when you have 25,000 or 2.5 million. If you are honest with your situation, I’d be willing to bet that roughly 99.975% of the world still wants to trade places with you (give or take .001%). Just relax. Take a few breaths. The sun’s still going to rise tomorrow. Take some time to be grateful for the countless options you have at your disposal. You can take that trip you always wanted, learn an instrument or language, write a book or climb Mt. Everest. Remember, the only loss suffered here was monetary. Personally, I’m always comforted to know where the ingredient of “money” fits into my recipe for “happiness” and it’s usually no more important than a pinch of salt.
I am confident in the future of the poker community. Professional poker players are not stupid people. If we can make it in an industry where a marriage of intelligence and work ethic are required for success, then we can make it anywhere. To share a personal story, I recently had a conversation with a friend where he confessed to having an extra 12 hours available to fill his days. He went on to say that he always wanted to move to Korea, discover his heritage and learn the language. And isn’t that the best part about our career? That it allows us the flexibility to do these things, whenever we want, wherever we want? The irony? This invaluable lesson only cost him a temporary hold of the money he has online. When we compare this to what he still has we quickly realize that there is still plenty of time to pursue these endeavors, ultimately furthering his growth as a person, granting him an unparalleled experience and making him a more well rounded individual. If the money is all it cost him to realize this, I’d say he should be extremely grateful for this epiphany is priceless. I hope that this can be beautiful reminder to us all, of how lucky we really are and how a positive outlook is essential for our continued success and happiness. So instead of wishing you to play well perhaps I should say wish for you what’s really important, to live well.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” ♠
- Alexander Graham Bell
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