I’m officially retired from poker. I've put off this blog post for a while trying to be certain that I’m done and while I’m still not 100% certain, I’m more certain now than at any other point. That said I will probably play poker in some capacity in the future, even if only for recreational purposes.
A number of factors led me to this decision. First and foremost, I’m sick of playing. It was sometime last year that I realized I didn't want to be playing much longer. I’m 39 years old now and it has become more and more difficult to sit in front of a computer all day with my attention constantly focused with decision after decision being presented for hour after hour. Five years ago it was fairly easy for me to play six tables of short-handed LHE for many hours, remain focused at all of them, and have a pretty good idea of what was going on at each. This year it felt like torture trying to playing four tables and I found it very difficult to have that same level of focus for any extended period of time.
More than just getting older, poker became less and less fun and more and more like work to the point where I've dreaded playing many days. I've probably logged more online hours and possibly more hands of LHE than anyone alive. I started playing LHE over ten years ago and have put in a tremendous amount of volume each of those years. I don’t know how many hours I played but I’d estimate I played around six million hands. When I started I was eager to play every day and brought my laptop with me everywhere (literally everywhere) not of necessity, but out of a burning desire to play. That desire is long gone.
Another factor that led to this decision is the current environment in online poker. Making money in high-stakes online games is more about table selection, seat selection, and quickness to the tables than about actual skill. The actual skill is still a prerequisite for making money but the vast majority of high stakes regulars at LHE are separated in skill by a fraction of a big bet. So the other non-poker related skills carry much greater weight than they previously did. I can’t really complain about these non-poker related skills as I've easily benefited from them as much as anyone and have been aware of their importance for quite some time. But now that nearly everyone is aware of them, the landscape has transformed into a race to get to tables, and into a contest to see who can get position on the recreational player. What was once an easy advantage has turned into a major headache when trying to multi-table. If I was only playing a few hours a day at a few tables, I don’t think it would be much trouble to have all the tables open and hop on one immediately when a recreational player sits. But when trying to multi-table for endless hours, also trying to keep every table open while vigilantly watching to see if a seat is about to be taken can be maddening.
Much more than that, it takes away from the fun of the game and the actual game of poker itself.
Yet another factor (and there are many more) in the decision to retire was the constant travel after Black Friday. As cool as it is to experience different cultures and live in exotic locations, it also gets old after a while. There are a LOT of things in the US that I miss, most of all playing pool. I've spent more time playing pool in my life than I have playing poker to give you an idea and if faced with a choice of being able to do either (and being able to make the same amount of money) I’d choose pool in a heartbeat. And I would of said that at any time during my poker career.
Enter the possible solution to all my problems: Daily Fantasy Sports
-Totally legal in the US which solves the travel issue (along with a host of other issues including the ongoing banking nightmare that stems from being an American online poker player)
-Extremely fun as I love sports and competition. It’s a new challenge that I wake up every day excited to try to take on.
-Makes good use of a lot of my biggest strengths. Math/odds, knowledge of sports betting markets and lines, psychology, bankroll management, etc. etc.
-A relatively new industry very similar to poker ten years ago in terms of growth and money making potential. There are a number of other striking similarities but I won’t get into them here.
It still remains to be seen whether I can support myself and family playing DFS and hence why I’m not 100% certain I’m done with poker. I will say I’m very optimistic about my chances and have done exceptionally well in the nine weeks or so I’ve been playing. One thing that is for certain is that I’ll be doing everything in my power to make it work and not have to come back to poker. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if I never played another hand of online poker again (fingers crossed).
So this is likely to be my last blog post though I may post some personal stuff here from time to time. Like if I’m lucky enough to play Efren Reyes in pool again J
I would like to extend an offer to 2+2, hopefully one of the moderators there will read this. I would be happy to do a “Well” on 2+2 where I answer any and all questions related to poker. I’d be willing to answer pretty much anything and would take the time to thoughtfully answer as many questions as possible. I think I could probably do something on par to the Phil Galfond well that was done a while back. I actually have some downtime with DFS over the next three weeks so that would be the best time for me to do it. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s hopefully it. I hope everyone enjoyed following this blog, maybe learned something from it, and possibly gained some inspiration from it.
Good luck at the tables.
Update: Here's a link to the 2+2 "Well": http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/18/high-stakes-limit/retirement-poker-tpirahna-well-1479652/index4.html