Today is the day. As I type this, I can feel the resistance to becoming a Professional Poker player in my chest, and I feel greater reluctance to making it public.
For a few years, I’ve been part time Professor, part-time writer, part-time entrepreneur and part-time Poker player. Although I’ve 500k in cashes (300k live, 200k online) in two years, the ‘pro’ bit was always hedged.
Partly this is because of family and societal pressures and partly my ADD likes to do lots of things. However, it has become increasingly clear to me that I cannot do everything well. I’m 51, have two kids, live a long way from Las Vegas. My Poker performance has been exceptional, but I don’t yet think I’m that good.
There is a great scene in the old Karate Kid movie. Miyagi says: ‘Walk one side of street, fine; walk other side of street, fine; walk middle of road, squash rike glape. Same karate. Karate do, fine; karate not do, fine; karate half do, squash rike glape’.
This means a shift in my identity: how I see myself, or, the story (narrative) that guides my life. Now that I’m fully pro:
- Super late sessions when I play horribly will end. Not what a pro does.
- A renewed attention to study – at least ten hours a week. That is what a pro does.
- My body and mind have to be treated like money making machines. (They are in every discipline, but in other areas it is easy to get away with being tired, out of shape, or in a sugar-coma.)
- A much more disciplined approach to the game. No more ‘f^%# it, I call’, less randomly shoveling chips in, randomly jumping up three stake levels in cash games because I’m bored.
- Approaching each hand with all the care, attention, mindfulness and concentration I can. No more missing the previous action (at least once a live tournament), no more forgetting the blinds are up and being forced to min-raise, no more ‘insta’ calling and then saying ‘why the f*#k did I do that’ – patience grasshoppah….
One old coach used to say I could treat each day as a Samurai, disciplined, peaceful and focused in every interaction, lethal with a sword. I never ever made it, but was a lot closer than now.
I’m old to be doing this. I have to think what my competitive advantages are over young pros that eat, breathe, and shit poker 24/7. Few to be sure, but perhaps this old head can bring some wisdom in its approach to the game to make up for less stamina and lower testosterone levels. (Yes, I am still talking about Poker.)
I have been wildly successful in everything I’ve tackled in life. My old father said to me yesterday, ‘you have a habit of stopping just before you make it huge’. I graduated college at 19, made a million a year by 24, quit consulting before becoming a partner, exited the firm I founded after six years when it would have been really valuable after a few more, abandoned a subject on which I literally ‘wrote the book’ before real fame took hold, and moved to the US when more or less at the apex of my career in the UK.
I can no longer afford to half do anything. I have two kids who depend on me (and they are 15 years from college), and am under-invested for my autumn years and constantly stretched for cash today.
Time to get serious. Time to go pro.