Sunday, 20 September 2009

The end of the summer


I'm back from holiday in Tunisia which was really fun. It involved lots of sun, sea, quad biking, jet skiing, drink and nice food. I arrived back last night, unpacked a bit and played a little PLO winning 5 buyins a $0.25/$0.50 in a short 250 hands, but I'm still stuck over $1k lifetime at this level so it's nothing to be impressed about!

Tonight will be the last proper online MTT grind session in the foreseeable couple of weeks as I will be driving up north to Nottingham tomorrow during the day and will in all likelihood be spending a lot of time relaxing and catching up with friends who I haven't seen all summer. On the horizon is the OnGame Grand Series of Poker starting on the 27th September which I'll try to play a bit of, but other than that it looks like my volume will decline quite heavily in the forthcoming month.

The summer itself has been a really good experiment. Quite a few of my friends were working throughout the summer and I took the time to see what it would be like playing poker as a professional to see if primarily I could make a profit in it putting in decent volume and secondly if the lifestyle suited me.

I successfully reached all the monetary goals I set both at the start of the summer and at the start of the year whilst putting in a lot of volume and simultaneously working on my game throughout. Since the start of June I made over $40,000 net profit which in itself is pretty impressive although with tournament poker it can be so difficult to see what is the effects of positive variance.

The lifestyle however gave me a few calls for concern. The game itself remained really fun (although I did win a lot which might have swayed my view) and I loved playing all the same nightly tournaments and trying to out-level other regs. I also managed to keep a good level of fitness up frequenting the gym quite a lot.

However, what struck me as some of the more challenging aspects of poker in the future is the lack of social life and meeting new people that comes with the job. It really struck me, other than going to clubs and dancing with drunk girls I really wasn't meeting any new women which would make future relationships hard. Not only that but the hours that are required to grind online MTTs living in the UK registering from 7pm-2:30am rarely sleeping before 6am are also really unsocial resulting in me sleeping in most of the day then getting ready for the nights session once again.

I'm a social person at heart and it was way too easy to just stay inside for 3-4 days in a row almost losing track of time. I would say then that for those that are interested in pursuing professional poker careers when you are single and young is to move out and find a grind-pad with other players who are like-minded out-going type that also want to put in good volume. I'de recommend looking at other hobbies and classes giving you the opportunity to meet other people where you can talk about other stuff than poker.

It's way too easy in this line of work to become a sort of social recluse.

That was online. I played a fair bit at my local gala casino too in the cash games. Live games you can meet more people, but really they aren't the type of people I want to be meeting. First of, it's mainly older drunk business-men, many degenerates and big mouths. I'm much more interested in meeting attractive women and interesting people of my own age. Don't get me wrong, I still do really enjoy live poker but at times it can be painfully slow. I'm not sure how people like Phil Ivey manage when he used to play 80 hour+ weeks just grinding out the cash tables.

So looking to the future.

I want to finish this year at university and get a good grade for my three years work. What I don't want is to spend night after night grinding it out online but instead I want to spend my evenings chilling with friends, meeting new people and having fun away from the computer. I love online grinding, but over the summer it made me realise that I can be sat in front of a computer almost any time later on in my life and due to the social structure of university it would be a great shame to let it pass me by without fully taking advantage of what it has to offer. Not only that, but I have a hell of a lot of work to do next year which will probably occupy a lot of my time anyway. I will however, hopefully be playing a few more live tournaments such as the DTD deepstack, Irish Poker festival and perhaps a few GUKPT's as they are very fun and can be easily offered as a break from reality. Plus, I don't want to lose some of my poker talent that I've worked hard to build on over the past couple of years.

After my final exams next summer I hope to head of to vegas over the summer and just go mad. Play a ton of poker, party like theres no tomorrow and enjoy life being young with a bit of change in my pocket. After that I'll either be heading to North Europe (London, France etc.) to live and possibly play poker/work somewhere or even explore the USA a bit more. The winter time I'de like to be skiing and the Spring would be fun to spend in Asia living somewhere like Thailand, Cambodia, Japan etc. I Think the best option is to leave my options open on this one as the various opportunities may just present themselves and I'de like to have some flexibility in my planning.

After that I suspect, although it's hard to tell now, I'll head back to England and look for some line of work that interests me whilst keeping my bankroll (assuming I'm not busto!) in some sort of savings account that I can then reinvest in the future into setting my own business up.

Although the future does seem a bit hazy right now, I want to maximise my time. Already I'm seeing some of my friends from school that have really done nothing with their lives since leaving school, still working in the factory that we had part-time jobs in at sixth form or part-timing at Tesco watching the years go by. It it quite saddening and I just hope I maximise my time and you do only get one shot!

I think to summarise this pretty long mind-spew this old quote has quite a lot of relevance: "Poker is a hard way to make an easy living". And I do believe now that there is a lot of truth in it.

I'm looking forward to the grind tonight that starts in 3 hours time. I'll be playing the majors on stars, B2B, Full Tilt, OnGame, Boss, Ladbrokes so it's going to be pretty hectic and maybe I can just bink something nice to finish off a great summer!


  1. Ben, met you in DTD through Jon Elliott (just so you know I'm not completely random). Been following the blog keenly for a good few months.

    Had to say...utter respect for this post. Clearly have a serious talent and made some serious $$ but to still keep a cool head and think rationally commands respect. Best of luck with future ventures and tournaments alike. May see you at DTD sometime soon.

  2. Mate I loved this post, especially as I was curious about whether you were 'making it' professionally. I can't imagine spending days at a time in, and all those crazy hours. Presumably there is also plenty of adrenaline pumping which can be stressful?

  3. Concerning the stress, I think if I was living by myself relying on the rent money and all expenses it would be a lot more stressful. The games I play can easily have $10k+ swings (whereby playing optimally over a short sample like a month you could lose over $10,000 just by being unlucky). It probably can be quite stressful but I'm very careful with my money these days to almost eliminate my risk of ruin and risk of going bankrupt just by playing over-rolled for all my games (for instance I won't buy into a tournament if it costs more than 0.5% of my bankroll). Hope that makes sense to you :p

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  5. Great post mate. Gl for the future.