Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Happy Joy Joy

So the big news in the world of online poker is this million dollar bet that happened recently. Apparently a high stakes player offered $900k to his friends' $300k that he can run 70 miles in 24 hrs. You can read about it from the friend's perspective here...

It's actually a very good read and would recommend everybody spend a few mins reading it. Anyway the guy ran 70 miles in 24 hrs and won $300k.

In the piece, Haseeb (the friend/roommate), a high stakes nl hu specialist, says there are many people at every level of poker that are so deeply unhappy. I want to cover that statement and just say that I disagree. There is a chance he is just conveying it based on personal experiences (he had gotten hacked for a good amount of money after having a bad downswing).

It is possible at really high stakes and nosebleeds ($25/50+) that a higher % of players take poker more seriously because of the amount of money being passed around that mood swings happen more frequently than lower stakes which may lead to unhappiness. I'm not the person to answer that definitely because I haven't really played that high online. I do see and read about Phil Galfond, Durrrr, Stinger, and others and they don't seem unhappy but I guess I can't say for sure because I don't know them personally. If I had to bet I would say they are happy though.

At lower stakes I think as a whole, professional poker players are not unhappy. Just like any field, there will be people that love their jobs and people that hate their jobs. Last summer I got to meet some of the guys I play vs. on a daily basis online and even though almost all of them were in their early to mid twenties (sign of the times), they all seemed outgoing and happy w/ their lives. Granted most of them are winning players and have more money than most at the same age. Here are the kids I met last summer...

From a personal standpoint I am a happy person and have always been, and I've been playing poker professionally for well over a decade. I've been on numerous downswings and have experienced the really high highs and the really low lows yet I've always been a positive and happy person. Heck I'm in the midst of a 6 week downswing right now (this entire year) and I'm ok w/ it and happy w/ life in general.

Pretty much all my poker playing friends are content and not unhappy (w/ the exception of one). Heck one's getting married in a week and probably couldn't be happier. Also if you read Doublefly's blog at

a fellow grinder w/ a family, his life seems fulfilled and happy (awesome poker blog for those that don't know...really check it out if you can).

I guess the common trend here is that we all seem to have a balanced life where poker doesn't encompass our lives. I'm not saying go get married and you'll be happy (heck 50% of married people eventually get unhappy and end up getting divorced) but I think if your entire life is poker there is a greater likelihood that you may end up unhappy.

Besides family, pursue other goals and interests outside of poker, make new friends and hang out w/ old friends, read books, watch tv and movies, play video games, work out, whatever it takes to create some semblance of balance in your life if you're a poker player. Just don't overdo it and put poker in the backburner where you fall behind the new generation of players. If you can learn to balance your game, you can learn to balance your life. What I'm saying is simple advice but I do see young guys where poker is their entire lives and whether they're happy or not idk but I think the chance that you end up unhappy goes up if you don't have balance in your life, so for everybody out there...go get a life!

If for some reason you are a professional poker player and generally unhappy then poker might not be right for you. Maybe it's your personality and you're generally unhappy then go see a doctor or a shrink, but if poker is the cause I'd recommend pursuing another career. I think it's better for a myriad of reasons to be happy doing something where you don't make much money vs. being unhappy doing something where you make a lot of money. Sometimes happiness is tied into how much money you make and have, and I get that, but this is really simple what makes you happy.

Finally my wife and I got invited to a couple of Chinese New Year's gala's/celebrations reserved for the high rollers (mostly asian) at the Venetian and the Wynn last weekend (my friend is a high stakes baccarat player and got us invites). Besides throwing an extravagant dinner w/ famous Chinese singers singing (flown in from Asia), they have a drawing where the top prize is a $200+k car. The 1st night the car was a Bentley, the 2nd night a convertible Ferrari. They gave away 20-30 prizes including 10 cars as the top 10 prizes and the rest being cash (from $2k to $20k) each night. (Me next to the Ferrari...too bad it's not mine).

When they drew for the 2nd prize at the Venetian, which was a BMW 750i, they called out last name Chan (half the crowd ooh'ed and ahh'ed because it was mostly a Chinese crowd), 1st name John.....yep, you guessed it...freaking Johnny Chan walked up and accepted the keys to his brand new BMW. I guess he plays high stakes baccarat from time to time. We didn't get to partake in the drawings because they were reserved for the high rollers. As for my friend he didn't win anything, but don't feel bad for him, he won a Lamborghini 2 years ago which he turned in for cash $160k. Maybe that's how you get happy.

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