Thursday, September 23, 2010

A road trip (Part 3 and Final)

Continuing on, I met a girl in Vancouver (same girl from last post), and being smitten w/ her settled down there for a bit. She became my girlfriend and early on she continued working as a waitress while I played poker. We decided to move in together and life was great. Eventually she would start accompanying me to the local casinos and poker rooms and sit behind me while I played. She had never played poker before and asked me to teach her because she saw me winning consistently and thought she could do the same. I was against it for awhile because even though I made it look easy, I knew it was difficult to win at it long term. Eventually I gave in and started teaching her and I don't know if it was beginner's luck but she started winning right off the bat. Again we were playing $5-$10 to $10-$20 limit hold'em back then.

Also we started having a few arguments here and there, but nothing serious. A few of them involved poker. Sometimes we would sit at the same table (because some of the rooms only had 2-3 tables) and I would see mistakes she would make. I would tell her of her mistakes and early on she agreed but later on when she started winning more than me (short term), she started disagreeing w/ me. That led to arguments because I know she was thinking "well I made more than you so I must be right and you're wrong". I knew eventually I would end up winning a lot more than her and she would realize I was right, but damn, women sure get stubborn! I guess if someone reels off several winning sessions she feels like she is doing nothing wrong...that was the case w/ my gf at the time.

Eventually she felt confident in her poker ability to quit her job. She was still attending college part time though, which I encouraged. After a few months we decided to get married. No one really proposed and I can't even remember who brought it up first but we really don't care tbh. We also decided not to have a big wedding and ended up getting married fairly quickly after we decided on marriage. After that we applied for her to come live in the states permanently because I was an American, not a Canadian. Along the way she got pregnant and we continued to play poker to support ourselves until she was allowed to become a permanent resident in the U.S. During her pregnancy I worked my ass off trying to save up as much money as I could so we'd have a nice foundation to start w/ when we moved down to the U.S. She didn't play much because of her pregnancy.

One of the first things I did was order every poker book out on the market, notably 2+2 books such as "Theory of Poker" and "Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players". I read every Cardplayer issue as well. I digested as much info on poker as I could during that time. I wanted to be able to make the most money I could playing poker and I became a student of the game. I remember thinking I never studied this much before, ever, even in high school or at UCLA.

Now I'm gonna brag some and say that I crushed the $10-$20 limit hold'em game at the Holiday Inn in downtown Vancouver back in those days. I kept an accurate log of my wins and losses and hrs I spent playing for a couple of reasons. They were that I wanted to see how I was doing per hr and I knew I needed to pay taxes on my winnings, even abroad, and needed to have a good record of my income in doing so (not to mention if I got audited). I mentioned this before but a big bet/hr in limit hold'em is considered very good for a pro but I was beating the $10-$20 limit game for over $40/hr. I also befriended some Canadian poker players during my time up there including Greg "FBT" Mueller and Adam Schwartz (does a lot of work in poker media inc. hosting the 2+2 podcast). I still remain friends w/ all of them today.

Anyway after the birth of our daughter and after a couple of years living in Vancouver, we flew to Montreal to get my wife's paperwork which allowed her to live in the U.S. legally. We didn't really get to enjoy the city because we were there for a day. I remember there were a lot of friendly french speaking people though.

When we came back to Vancouver, we rented a U-Haul and hitched my Nissan Sentra to the back, prayed for a safe journey, and began our journey to the U.S. to start our new lives. We headed to Los Angeles to my parents' house from Vancouver. The drive would not be the smoothest drive. It is about 1500 miles I think so it is quite a long drive. I remember driving through Seattle in this big truck w/ my wife cradling our newborn in her arms (seat belts on). During the drive in Washington, it was snowing and the roads were very icy (it was early January). There were cars off the side that had slid and lost control. I'm not sure how but we managed to get through that stretch unscathed. Also when we got to California we hit a heavy patch of fog where visibility was a few yards. Again we had to drive very slowly and very carefully. Again I felt lucky that we did not get into any sort of trouble or accident. Finally we made it to my parents' house safely and thanked God we made it.

Now my wife and I talked about our future, after all we had a baby and wanted the best life we could for her. I told her since I did well playing poker in Canada I'd give it a shot here in the U.S. and if it seemed like I couldn't make enough to provide a comfortable life for us I would go look for a job. She agreed and we decided to get our own place in Los Angeles. We had $10,000 to start w/ and only half that after getting a place and putting a couple of months deposit down on it. My credit was not that good back then and actually had to persuade the landlord to take a chance w/ us and he did and am forever grateful to him that he did so.

So w/ $5,000 in hand I started playing poker for a living to support my wife and child. I started off low, playing $6-$12 limit hold'em around town in the local cardrooms like Hollywood Park, The Bicycle Club, and Commerce and did well from the get go. I was smart enough about playing within my bankroll while trying to get better at the same time. Even though I officially started playing poker full time back in Canada, I felt like this is what I wanted to do for awhile and wanted to do the best that I can to provide the best life I could for my family. This would be the start of my "career" as a full time poker player over the next 10 years (2 years previously in Vancouver) and where I am today. For a quick look back over the past 12 years in my poker "career", check out this link where I posted about it (mostly as an inspiration that one can live a normal life as a professional poker player, actually written 2 years ago)....

What started as a summer road trip for a buddy and me ended up w/ me getting married, having a kid, and starting life as a professional poker player.


  1. cool story. its interesting enough that it would be a good read as a book.

  2. very very nice series of posts, you are an inspiration for many

  3. Tx, appreciate the nice words. Hopefully I can come up w/ some more tidbits I've learned over the years to share w/ everybody.

  4. pics of miniskirt or it didn't happen. ;-)

    Nice series of posts.