Where to begin? To say that I underachieved pokerwise during my 8 week stay in Las Vegas this summer would be a gross understatement. That said, I'm not writing here to whine or bemoan my luck, nor will I seek sympathy. I am extremely fortunate, grateful, and humbled to be in the position I'm in right now. I look back on some of my blog entries from a few years ago (and even some of my twitter posts from the last year), and I'm left shaking my head at my ignorance.
I've been playing poker, namely tournaments, professionally for 5.5 years now. I like to think that I sort of understand the ins and outs of the business by now. Poker is interesting in that it is largely misunderstood in a variety of ways by the outsiders looking in. This summer I played a very intense schedule of 41 World Series of Poker events. I cashed just twice which amounted to a net loss of around $123,000 in those events. The reality is 41 tournaments is an extremely small (almost meaningless) sample. Comparably when online poker existed in the US, myself and other poker players would play something like 20 to 30 tournaments, albeit it much smaller buy-ins, on a single Sunday. It's hard to put into words how liberating it is to understand this. Early in my poker career, I would go through a bad stretch of a few months and get super angry.
The part that stings and results in restless nights is the fact that I performed poorly on THIS stage. By all accounts, the World Series of Poker is our superbowl. After a good showing at the 2008 Series, I've now had three straight forgettable summers. Despite this, it's still an absolute blast being out here playing each summer. While a lot of guys like to pick and choose the events they play, I enjoy getting sort of lost in the grind, ignoring my cell phone, and keeping mostly to myself out here each summer. I'll add that it's perennially great spending time with my roommates Adam Geyer, Mike Katz, and Jesse Yaginuma.We've really become close, and it has undoubtedly helped me grow as a poker player and a man by having them around.
A huge question that we poker players now face is "Where do I go from here?" The actions of Black Friday two months ago where the DoJ seized the 3 major online poker sites have really threatened our livelihood. By trade, I am a tournament poker professional. I've been traveling as much as just about anyone playing the big buy-in live tournaments. Just weeks before the online poker shutdown, I had kind of an epiphany wherein I decided that all the traveling was taking a toll on me. I'd decided I was going to scale my traveling way back in an attempt to live a life that was atleast somewhat normal- a life where I had some time at my condo in Birmingham, Alabama to set goals and diversify my interests. For years I've wrestled with finding the right balance where I play enough poker to make a nice income while still spending time doing a lot of other stuff. I am just not at the stage in my poker career (and life) where I have any interest in moving to Florida, LA or Vegas (or overseas to play online) in order to grind out a living.
That said, what is my answer to the aforementioned question? Simply, I'm not quite sure. There is a whole world out there, and I'm fortunate enough to have the freedom to go live it. There are some projects I'm going to get started on back in Birmingham while I wait and see what happens with the online poker situation. In terms of both the buyins shrinking and players getting better, the live tournament schedule is becoming increasingly less attractive. Aside from playing the 3 Epic Poker League events and maybe a couple of WPT events, I'll likely take the rest of the calendar year off. The only problem with this is that I'll be a little behind the 8ball in the ever-evolving tournament poker world, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make as I search hard for complete happiness. Hopefully I'll come out a better poker player and person on the other side.
In closing, my lifetime WSOP stats:
In 2006 I cashed 3 times in 22 events and was a $35,135 loser.
In 2007 I cashed 3 times in 21 events and turned a $5,249 winner.
In 2008 I cashed 4 times in 22 events and turned a $314,498 winner.
In 2009 I cashed 3 times in 29 events and was a $59,600 loser.
In 2010 I cashed 5 times in 34 events and was a $71,156 loser.
In 2011, I cashed 2 times in 41 events and was a $122,907 loser.
Over 6 summers in Vegas now, I've invested $600,500 over the 169 lifetime WSOP events I've played and have cashed for $631,449. Therefore, I've turned a $30,949 winner which amounts to a disheartening 5% ROI that shrinks below 0% when you start to consider expenses. I'll definitely be back next year though, and I'll be focused and still hungry for a bracelet.
I'm going to take a couple of days in Las Vegas to unwind. Honestly I'm just relieved that the tournaments are over and looking forward to getting home. I've decided to drive my Tahoe the 1850 miles back to Birmingham to give myself some time to think, so that should be an interesting experience. Thanks for reading.