published on 10/19/09 at 8:17 am
After four years as a professional poker player I went bust.. This is article is the beginning of what happens next.
The end was a long drawn out affair. On New Years Eve, I was down to my last £20, I spent a fairly depressing night watching the rest of the world celebrate a ticking clock on TV. Time passing wasn’t something I felt particularly jubilant about. If my life had been a chess game any decent player would have conceded that it was time to knock the King over and find a new game. Of course my life is, if anything, a poker game and Poker players live by the maxim “a chip and a chair” and that was what I was down to.
You quickly learn when playing poker that scared money rarely wins. Its almost impossible to play at your best when you’re down to the very last of your bankroll, calls you should be making are now almost impossible because if you’re wrong its all over. Then what? Back to a 9 to 5 job playing poker on the side telling anyone who will listen that you could have been a contender. The last lines of Goodfellas sum up my dread.
…And now it’s all over and that’s the hardest part. Today everything is different, there’s no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. I cant even get decent food. Right after I got here I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a shnook.
I had absolutely no idea if I would even be able to get a regular job after all prospective employers might not understand the value I had added to my CV after four years playing poker and generally enjoying myself. I have always been difficult to manage and not having someone tell me what to do or where to be was something that I had become rather attached to. So on January first 2009 motivated by the fear of living a shnook’s life I took my last £20 and somehow turned it into £1200. Enough to pay the rent, enough to eat but I needed to do it all again in February and the pressure was back.
At times I can honestly say it all got to me. There were some nights that were sick with sleepless worry. The wins thankfully kept coming through February and early March and just when it looked like I was set to have a fantastic year, I was in the top 50 tournament players on William Hill, they switched Network. I played the last tournament on the old network at 01:00 on 17th March. It was a little like being in the band playing on the titanic, no matter how well I played the whole thing would be going under soon. The new network should have been just as easy to win on but for whatever reason I stopped winning. I think on reflection I can say it was a combination of self-doubt and a dislike of change. I was certainly not playing as well as I had been and by the end of May the false dawn had ended.
Now the thing about a false dawn is that it should inevitably eventually be followed by the actual dawn. I did get a job, a call center job. The pay was lousy but the hours were flexible and I figured I would just do the job long enough to build a bankroll, I could still play almost as much poker and with the pressure off I might start winning again. When the pressure was off though I couldn’t face playing at all. For the first time in years I didn’t play and more importantly I didn’t miss it. I was enjoying interacting with people who didn’t play, I found I really liked the people I was working with and the job, fund-raising for various charities was almost a karmic payback for the years I spent just trying to win money off people for my own needs without having given anything back. I decided I would only go back to poker when I was doing it for the right reason, because I enjoyed it and wanted to.
October 1st I had $1 in my account and it occurred to me that if I was good enough I should be able to turn that into $1000 before too long. The Rags to Riches challenge was born. Now I know that $1000 is hardly riches but if you can turn $1 into $1000 then you only have to do the same thing again from there to get to a million. After that? Well this time next year Rodney we will be a Brazilianaires. I will document the challenge honestly and hopefully with some good humor hereafter hope we all enjoy the ride.
“Achtung” Dan Hofinger is a London based poker player who can assist those wanting to break into live play through his own journey of bad beats and well-played hands.Related posts: