As a professional poker player, it feels like there are two separate times each year to make new year’s resolutions. The first is the same as when everyone else does: January 1st, New Year’s Day. The second is at the end of the event that everyone looks forward to throughout the rest of the year, the biggest poker festival in the world: The WSOP. It feels like such a culmination of efforts, excitement, heartbreak and expectations and is a true finale of the year’s events. The rapid fire schedule of potentially life-changing tournaments, combined with the busiest cash game days on the calendar in Las Vegas, makes for an exhausting six weeks of poker.
I’m always eager for the WSOP to start and, about 75% of the way through the schedule of events, eager for it to end. Traditionally, this is the only time of year where I register for the poker lottery, aka no limit hold ’em tournaments. While there is nothing more exciting in poker than being deep in a tournament, it is also the most high variance and both mentally and physically draining of the two main variants. Cash games provide the ultimate flexibility in start and stop times, while tournaments are the complete opposite. If you want to completely remove the invention that is the alarm clock from your life, be a cash game poker player.
I fired at 5
lotteries tournaments during the WSOP:
WSOP $565 Colossus – 731st place for $4027
WSOP $1500 Monster Stack – dnc
WSOP $235 Daily Deepstack – dnc
Venetian DSE $600 – 13th place for $3275
WPT500 $565 – 164th place for $1667
In the cash games between May 27th and July 10th, I put in 203 hours of work and showed a profit at a rate of about $72/hr. The majority of my sessions were 5/10 at the Bellagio, with some 2/5 mixed in around town, as well as a couple 1/2 games at the Golden Nugget for a change of scenery. Total profits during my 2015 WSOP comes to $20.1k.
There are several ways to look at that number. The negative way is to think about the WSOP as this life changing opportunity that comes to town once a year, and every year that you don’t finish in the top 3 of a big tournament is a let down. It’s a chance to put yourself in a position to live far more comfortably than you do, make a name for yourself (if that’s a priority to you), and to validate all the stress that you’ve put yourself through in this profession. $20k does none of those things. From that perspective alone, it’s easy to be disappointed.
There are several positive views on that number, however. If we’re comparing it to all the people who hit a sweet score over the summer, then we should probably compare it to all the people who got completely whacked by negative variance, of which there must be a lot (especially those who mostly played tournaments). I’m reminded of this hilarious video interview of Dutch Boyd from the end of last year’s WSOP. We certainly didn’t whiff it completely, nor did we have to stay at the Quad. Further, this stretch of time equates to approximately 6 calendar weeks. If we extrapolate this winrate over a full calendar year, it would come to around $160k. Not a bad salary.
So, for me, it’s mixed feelings. You always want to win more, but there are plenty of additional opportunities looking forward. In that regard, my New Poker Year’s resolutions are as follows:
1) Have more fun. The best thing about the poker lifestyle is the freedom to do what you want when you want. Sometimes this freedom can be overstated, because your results and your professional progress are a function of how much work you put in. That said, there are some things in my life I can tweak, such as spending less time reading twitter, and other time sinks. And I can worry less about achieving goals, and enjoy the process and the path more.
2) Create more. Sometimes, often times, I get more fulfillment and a better sense of satisfaction when I take a really cool photo that captures a moment in my life, than I do after a winning poker session. I resolve to be more creative, write more blogs, take more photos, (restart the podcast??) and share more of my life with other people. I also want to take measures to actively check whether what I’m doing is truly what sparks me, rather than just grinding it out, out of a perceived necessity.
3) Travel more. There are many poker locales that I’ve yet to visit, which are a tax write-off, as well as non-working vacations that need to be taken.
4) Get back into non-WSOP shape, physically.
5) Take my fiancée on more dates. The WSOP is a pretty selfish time of year for me. While I do feel as though I’m working in order to improve our life together as a whole, even during the non-working hours I can be pretty zombified. I want to be more present with her. She’s pretty sexy so it’d be silly of me not to.
Happy New Poker Year’s Day.