Poker and Your Life

I recently came to the realization that I start all of my posts with “Hey Guys.”  I’m not really opposed to it, but it looks a little weird on the front page here that all posts start with that and a couple lines of empty space, right?

Hey Guys!

I’ve been getting a TON of questions emailed in, which I appreciate so much.  I really truly will try to answer as many as I can, but please forgive me if I don’t get to yours.

This post isn’t going to answer specific questions, but it’s inspired by quite a few.  The questions I received most of fell into a category of decisions pertaining to poker as a career:  “Should I finish school?”  “Should I put more of my $ into this and give it a real shot?”  “How much should I try to reduce swings at the cost of EV now that I have a family?”

Since this ended up kind of long, I’m going to try to organize it and chop it up for you.

Below I’ll cover:

  • Happiness
  • Goals and Values
  • The Decision Making Process
  • Long Term vs. Short Term
  • Non Financial Factors
  • The Future of Poker and You
  • My Own Experiences and Opinions

Many of the stories I got made so glad that I asked for questions because there are people who I feel are poised to make a poor decision that will have a major effect on their life.  I’m going to try to respond to as many as I can, most privately, but I wanted to make a more general post about my views on poker as a career.  I’m sure that for every person who emailed, there are 100 others in a similar situation.

While I’m not arrogant enough to assume that my 27 years of wisdom are enough to make major life decisions for people I don’t even know, I hope that I can help people methodically think through their own situations and make the best decisions they can.  Actually, I hope this post will be general enough that it doesn’t need to apply only to major poker related decisions.

 

“Right” and “Wrong” and Your Results

I think it’s important, when making big decisions, that you first realize that there is often no “right” answer (in my opinion).  Or there is one, but it may not end up turning out “right.”  What I mean is, all you can hope to do is to make the best decision you can given the information you have right now.  I say this for no reason other than to remind you that you can’t beat yourself up later on if you feel you made the “wrong” decision, and you can’t hesitate to make a decision out of fear of it being the “wrong” one.

We learn this through poker.  I make the best play I can every chance I get, but sometimes my reads are wrong, or they aren’t even wrong, but I run into a small part of my opponents range that I made the “wrong” play against.  There are SO many things that will happen in your life that you have no way to predict, and you can’t blame yourself for completely unforeseen consequences.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the possibilities though (more on this later).

Next, it’s important to note that everyone’s situation will be different.  The right answer for me, or your friend, may not be the right answer for you.  There are so many factors… not only your poker skill, your alternative career options and financial situations, but your personality, your goals, wants, needs – what will make you happy.

 

Happiness

When making a big decision, I like to start here.  Ask yourself: What is important to me?  What do I value?  What are my goals?

I’ve personally done a lot of soul searching on this, and though many of you will have different goals and values (next section), I’m happy to share the conclusions I’ve come to for me so far.

I went through things I wanted, and kept digging deeper.  So, I want to succeed at poker?  Why? Competition, money.  Why?  etc.

It all seems to boil down to only two things I want in life-

1) I want to have a net positive effect on the world and the people around me.  To be kind, fair and respectful to everyone I interact with.  To be the best friend/loved one I can to those I care most about.

This is a personal goal of mine, and not one that helps me much with many major life decisions.  Maybe I just made sure to include it so you don’t judge the other thing that matters most to me:

2) I want to be happy.  All of the minor and major things I want, I want because they make me happy.  Not so profound, but an important thing to admit.

What’s great about realizing this is that I now know that I want to be successful in poker because it makes me happy.  I want to earn more money because I think it will make me happy to do so.  So, Why is this helpful?

Well, I often times in the past have weighed poker and life related decisions-

  • Should I go out with my friends or should I play these good games?
  • Should I move out of the country so I can continue to play online?
  • Should I drop down in stakes to lower my stress levels, or maximize EV and deal with the swings?

What I used to think I was doing was sacrificing happiness/contentment/peace of mind for EV (aka money).

What I now realize is that I’m sacrificing happiness for… happiness!  Once I made this realization (recently), I started seeing how much happier I could be in my day to day life by sacrificing some EV.  I used to feel like I HAD to work hard, and I was doing the “right” thing by maximizing my earn rate rather than being my happiest.  It almost felt like a duty… like it was honorable.  But now when faced with a decision of making a sacrifice in happiness for more $EV in poker, I’m no longer comparing apples to oranges.  I’m choosing apples (happiness) or apples (happiness).  So really, all I need to do is decide what (which apple) will make me more happy (apple).

Recently, I’ve realized that a lot of stress is the worst thing for my happiness, so I’m making efforts to minimize stress, even at the cost of $EV.  (Playing while in better moods will probably gain me some EV back anyways)

 

Goals and Values

Happiness is pretty general goal.  I think that all of us want to be happy (if you’re someone who doesn’t, I mean, that’s pretty weird, man). It’s important to decide for yourself what major factors lead to your personal happiness and contentment.  This is what you can use to help make decisions.

For me:

1) Personal relationships –  All of the people closest to me matter much more than anything else, especially in terms of my happiness.  I derive the majority of my happiness from my closest friends and family.

2) Competition, Success – Not just financial, but I like to be working towards something and doing well at it.  Poker has been great for me because I dedicated myself to becoming good at it, and it’s gone extremely well.

3) Stability, Routine, Security – I like things planned out, and I like to have backup plans.  I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy (nor do I completely understand why that saying means what it means).

4) Freedom – Again, not only financial, though financial freedom is awesome.  I like not being buried in obligations and commitments.  I like to be able to take a few days off when I’m not feeling focused.  I like to be able to spend an entire day alone if I’d like.

This list was off the top of my head, and I’m sure there’s more, but my list isn’t really important.  It’s just an example.  You need to come up with yours to help you make decisions.

So, for me, playing poker works pretty well.  I nail #2 and #4.  I have the ability to setup #3, and I have been lucky enough to have the freedom (financial and time) to spend time and travel to many of the people who matter most to me.

4 is something I didn’t have much of in the past, when I was a complete slave to the games.  Whenever a great game ran, I was there, and I dropped whatever else was going on (sleep included). I made a lot of money during this time, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t.

1 is something that I haven’t worked as hard as I’d like on.  Black Friday threw a huge wrench in my plans (a saying I understand a bit better) and I’m not positive I’ve handled it the best way I could’ve, or how I’m going to handle it going forward.

Obviously, the fact that I’ve been financially successful has helped with many of my goals, so that is certainly part of any career decision you make.

Another good thing to do would be to make a list of things that make you UNhappy, unless they’re covered by the above list (meaning they’re just the opposites of them).  I’d add- Stress, bad sleep, lack of personal space/time, and maybe a few more.  Again, just examples… You need to list yours.

Now, there are a tonnnn of smaller things that lead to happiness (reading, exercise, tv, ice cream, cat videos, etc).  These are very important too, in that you should:

a) Strive to do these things as much as possible on a day to day basis.

b) Consider if any major decision will impact your ability to do so.

 

The Standard Part

Of course, when making any decision, you need a list of your options.  Whether this list is on paper or in your head isn’t important (unless you have a horrible memory).

Then you can go through the obvious process- pros and cons.  Which option will satisfy more of your personal goals or happiness triggers?

I don’t have much to say on this topic because we all know how decisions are made.  The only advice I have, other than everything in the other sections, is to not just choose a path because you “want to” or especially because you “think you should.”  Those aren’t good reasons alone for doing anything.  Why do you want to?  Why do you think you should?  Add those in to your pros and cons lists.

 

Long Term vs. Short Term

 

It’s important to think long term, but it’s also very important to think short term.  A lot of people sacrifice their short term happiness in hopes that it pays off later.  The problem is, as I’ve said, we can’t predict what will happen later in life, or what we’ll want in the future.

ESPECIALLY if you’re under 25, not only are there are so many things that could pop into your life and change it’s path, but you are still very much growing and maturing as a person (I’d probably say this is true past 30 too, but I’m not there yet).  Your values will change, and you’ll learn so much more about yourself and about life.

You know how when you’re a teenager, grown-ups tell you that you don’t really know what you want in life yet, and that you just don’t know nearly as much in general as you think you do?  Know how you get extremely annoyed because you’re smart and you know what you want and what you value and believe in, and you obviously aren’t going to listen to them?

Well, what sucks is, the grown-ups are right.  Hopefully you’re more likely to believe me because I’m only like, a half grown-up.  The truth is, people grow and change for a very long time.  I learn a lot every single year, and I look back at things I thought/did two years ago and feel stupid

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you want and follow your passions, because you should (for the most part).  It’ll make you happy, and that’s how you’ll learn more about what you really do want and value.  BUT, you should be very careful making a big decision that will be life altering (like dropping out of school to play poker full time).

One of the embarrassingly few books I’ve read was called “Stumbling On Happiness.”

The author, as one of his main few points, argued that we are terrible at predicting what will make our future selves happy.  He gave a whole bunch of good explanations for this, which I wouldn’t care to recycle even if I remembered them all.  He said that people older than us, even if they aren’t all that much like us, are better predictors of what will make us happy than we are.  I believe him (due to the many compelling arguments that I’ve now forgotten), and I think this is especially true the younger we are.

The moral of this is two-fold (I feel smart and cool saying “two-fold”):

1) Don’t trust your own judgements of what will make you happy 20 years from now.

2) Ask and put more weight into the advice of your elders. They know more than you think.

 

More Than Money

For many people, they look at poker vs. their job or poker vs. college as purely a financial decision.  They think, “Which path will make me more money?”

Is this an important part of the decision?  Of course.  Do I think it’s an overvalued part of the decision?  ABSOLUTELY!

Any career is about much more than the money.  Do you love what you do, or can you tolerate what you do?  Do you like your work environment?  How do the demands of your job impact the other important aspects of your life?

Playing poker professionally is a pretty big lifestyle change compared to most jobs.  You will almost certainly be under more day to day stress.  Your hours aren’t structured (pros and cons to this, of course).  You have no guaranteed income (ignore the $EV of this, and consider the month to month happiness ramifications for you, your family, and anyone else around you).

There’s not much job security in poker (though there’s not much anywhere right now, I understand).  In addition though, no health care, no retirement plan… those are additional expenses.

Then many things will depend on your particular situation within poker.

For me, I often have to make a hard decision to cancel or not make plans with friends in the first place, since there are occasionally “unmissable” games I “need” to play in. Poker also “forces” me to spend at least two months a year in Las Vegas, and currently is “forcing” me to spend a lot of time outside of the US.  I use quotes because those are technically my decisions to make (some of which I still struggle with), but they are important parts of allowing me to compete at the level I’d like to.

Online poker lends itself to a more solitary day to day life than most jobs.  I have friends in poker who are clearly extroverts, and I can see that sitting alone at their computer all day drains them.  I love my alone time, so it’s usually not a problem for me.

Another thing to consider is what people think-

I don’t worry about people judging me because I don’t have a real job, but if that’s something that will bother you, keep it in mind.  Something that’s more important is how poker affects those in your life.  Specifically, if you are or would like to be married, even if your wife doesn’t judge poker, she may feel very uneasy about the uncertainty of it.  Also, even if you don’t mind people judging you, she may mind, especially if it’s her family.  Just remember that you’re not only accepting the risks and stress for yourself, but for those who depend on you (or will in the future).

 

The Future of Poker and You

One major thing that many people may not think about-  When you have a regular job, you get better with experience, and your resume grows over the years, making you MORE employable and more secure within your company.  Poker isn’t like that.

You’d think “I’ll just get better each year,” and you’d be right, but your opposition gets better at an extremely fast rate.  Think of how many pros used to crush poker and can’t even win nowadays.  I even know people who used to destroy the highest stakes online five years ago that can barely beat 1/2nl now.

To stay competitive, you need to actively work very hard on your game, even after 10-20 years.  Young kids with new software will be analyzing things that you didn’t even think of (this already happens to me).  So, unless you make a TON of money, you won’t ever be able to sit back and just casually grind and earn your salary.  It never gets easier… our brains don’t get bigger and faster.

The more obvious thing to worry about is the future of poker.  Will it be as popular as it is now?  As beatable?  Will bots take over online poker within five years?  Will multiple countries ban internet poker?

These all fall into the category of things that you can’t predict, but you can consider as outcomes, along with things like:

  • What if you start a family and the expenses drain your bankroll (and ability to make money)
  • If you’re currently staked, what if you won’t be able to find a deal in the future?
  • What if everyone stops playing your game of choice, and you end up being terrible at the new popular game?

There are so many things to consider, and you should prepare yourself for their possibilities, depending on how likely you think each of them are.  For instance, learn other games, have backup plans, have money set aside, etc.

 

My Opinions and Experience:

So far, I’ve just given you a ton of things to think about.  I haven’t weighed in too much on my own experience or opinions and advice.

In my last blog, I told my own story of my early years in poker.  I’d recommend you check it out.  I wrote it.

I want to touch on some other experiences and opinions I’ve formed over the last handful of years.

Poker Skill:  Predicting Greatness

Do you think you have what it takes to be a very good poker player?

Great! That means you’re a person.

Nearly everyone thinks that they are already good at poker, or that with just a little bit of work, they can become great… either because they are good at math, or they watch poker avidly, or they played a sick hand one time.

There’s a catch-22 with predicting one’s own poker ability.  Some of the best traits a good pro poker player can have are self-awareness and humility. They let the player know when they’re on and off their game, what they need to improve on (and that they need to improve), when someone is better than them, when someone has something to teach them.  They allow a player to make responsible and prudent decisions about poker in their lives. The self aware, humble people who will often be great at poker aren’t sure they can cut it, and are often the last to make the jump and play full time or move up in stakes.

Then there are people with no self-awareness.  They think they are great and that they will definitely succeed.  Those with no humility think that books, training videos, and other players all have very little to teach them.  These are the people that will often fail, and the people who don’t know that they lack these qualities, even as they read this paragraph.

So, how can you trust yourself to predict your own ability?

You can’t.

The only way you can be confident you have what it takes is with over a million hands of poker experience and data, showing your progress and your win-rate with a somewhat reasonably high degree of certainty.  Some people seem to be under the impression that poker skill is a standalone ability that you can be born with, like singing or sprinting (which can both be improved, but some people are just born with a much higher ceiling than others).  Poker is a culmination of skills.  There aren’t just dumb people who are bad at everything but great at poker.

So what are these other skills that add up to one, powerful, poker-playing mind?

Important Skill Sets

I’ve had many friends get into poker- friends who have had seemingly the same skill set I have, but couldn’t cut it for some reason or another.  I’ve seen so many legit geniuses try their hardest and fail.  I’ve also seen people with only above average intelligence be wildly successful (over long, sustained periods of time).

There’s no doubt that there is a strong correlation between IQ and poker success, but it’s far from the only thing that matters.  There are plenty of players with IQs that dwarf mine who are forever stuck at smaller stakes.  Still, if you have a very high IQ (or any common standardized test score), that’s an unbiased source that can make you a little bit more confident that you will have what it takes, and unbiased sources are hard to come by.

I’ve narrowed predictors of poker skill down to three major categories:

  • Deductive Logic
  • Psychology, social adeptness, understanding how people think and how they are affected by things (considerate people)
  • Math / Statistics

Those are in order of importance, in my opinion.  Yes, math is last (a distant last actually, though still clearly makes the list).

I suppose that’s a little bit misleading because Deductive Logic falls under the wide umbrella of Math, but there are people who are very logical who just could never do well in other math classes.  Those people are usually better off than the number crunching, stat/calc wizards who don’t meet the other criteria.

There are also three minor categories, which are less about predicting poker aptitude and potential, and more about predicting how likely you are to reach and use that potential:

  • Competitive Drive (especially with oneself)
  • Humility and Self-Awareness
  • Self Control

These are also in order (again, my opinion). This is the closest I’ve been able to get to explaining what makes a great poker player.  It’s far from conclusive, and I’ve seen many people who seem to fit most of the mold just not be able to do it.  I’m posting it as a place to get started- Something to help you estimate if you are more or less likely to be successful.  Also, it’s just a question I’ve been asked so many times… I thought I’d share my thoughts to everyone.

Good luck to all the non self-aware people who are congratulating themselves for their excellent logic, math, and people skills.  I tried 🙁

 

Drop Out of School?  Quit my Job?  (Answer: Not Yet)

As I’ve been saying, every person’s situation is different, and every person’s potential is different.  However, I feel that my answer to most individual people is to wait a long time before making the jump. What sucks about this plan, for many college students today, is that Black Friday destroyed their ability to stay at their school in the US and play online poker on the side.  I feel strongly that it’s the best way to go if it’s an option (even though it wasn’t the route I took when I was that age).

Look no further than Brian Hastings or Z and Hac Dang for proof that you can be a world class player and literally make millions while going to and finishing college.

Building your resume (with college or your job) is an extremely valuable Plan B to have (or Plan A!), and poker abilities are extremely hard to predict without years of actual playing. I would almost always recommend that someone plays poker on the side of their main job/education until they can be certain that they are very successful at it, and that they still love to play.

If you’re in the US, honestly, I don’t know.  If transferring to a school in another country is an option, I think you should seriously consider it.  If there’s a casino with good live games nearby, you can build your roll and experience there, I guess.  I don’t have a great solution anymore, given the current obstacles.  Hopefully they won’t be in place for too much longer.

My General Philosophy

I was talking to a friend of mine about some problems she was having.  Just kind of general aimlessness and uncertainty about what she wanted or where she was heading. (something that almost everyone struggles with at some point or another, and then another)

I said to her, “I’ll tell you the secret to life,” at which point I realized that I had never verbalized or even thought out my own philosophy for how to lead my life, and that I now had to make it up on the spot.  Opening with “secret to life” was probably a little bit reckless of me.

I don’t think I have the secret to life here, or anything close to it, but these guidelines have worked well for me.

“Day to day, focus on three things,”  I said.  During our conversation I amended it to four, or three and a half, really:

1) Do things that you enjoy

Simple, yet something that people don’t focus on nearly enough.  Stop focusing so hard on working and planning to improve your life.  Today is your life.  Every day is. Do something that you enjoy right now.

2) Work Towards Short Term Goals

It’s easier to stay motivated when you can see the finish line, or you enjoy the ride.  Don’t write a book because you want a big payday two years from now… Write it because you enjoy writing it.  Or, if it has to be a long term goal, set up checkpoints.  Write ten pages by next Friday and you should feel rewarded and accomplished when you do.

The things that you care about, whether it’s a project of some kind, physical fitness, relationships- Ask yourself at the end of each week, “Am I closer or further away from where I want to be than I was last week?”

Great things don’t usually happen overnight, but as long as you’re moving towards them and not away from them, you’re doing it right and you should be proud of that.

3) Invest in Personal Relationships

Spend time with people you enjoy, people you love. Be good to everyone, but especially the people most important to you.  That is where your happiness will come from in the long run.

3b) Choose Your Friends Carefully, And Continually

Don’t waste your time, effort, and emotion on friendships/relationships that don’t have a net positive effect on your life.  People tend to feel stuck with friends, even it’s clear that nothing comes from that relationship but negativity.

If your friend makes your life harder, rather than easier and more pleasant, that’s not what a friendship should be, and that’s often their own fault.  You don’t owe them anything just because you have been their friend.

You owe it to yourself to cut ties with net negatives in your life (you don’t have to do it in a mean way). More importantly, you owe it to the relationships with people who are truly good to you, who deserve your attention and effort.

 

Bringing It Together

So, that was a bit all over the place (in case you didn’t notice).  If you got this far, I hope you were able to grab a couple of bits and pieces that spoke to you.  I hope that those of you who are at a crossroads, whether it be poker related or not, think carefully about the options in front of you, while at the same time not fearing the possibility of choosing the “wrong” path.

Writing things like this out helps me as well.  I’m very far from having my life and my path figured out.  As I’ve alluded to, I’m not even sure I’ve been making the best possible decisions for my life and career over the past year.  I’m not sure that I know what’s best for my life and career in this next year either.

What’s important is, I’m okay with not knowing, and with making educated guesses to the best of my ability and not looking back.  Whether I choose the best path, if there even is a best path, I’m confident that as long as I focus on what’s important to me, especially day to day, I’ll be getting most of it “right.”

Not sure if that last “right” needed quotes.

Take care.

-Phil

115 Replies to “Poker and Your Life”

  1. Thanks for all the advice. I will cut down on poker to enjoy the college experience for a few years now. When I think of it – that’s easily what gives me the most happiness. I will use the years to read up on some of my weaker games and maby return to the filt as a much more reflected player.

    Poker will still be a part of my life, but I will have to cut down on the Internet grinding. It gives me so much more apple to play live with my friends. Thanks again!

  2. Great post!

    Ultimately, it all boils down to balance. That is, living a life wherein we satisfy the needs that make us human: spiritual needs, financial, social, emotional, physical, etc.

    Some of the stuff can be found in Kindle eBooks like “The Mental Game of Poker”, and “NLP for Smart Poker Players” and it is very well explained here.

  3. Hey Phil,

    You might enjoy this documentary that can be found on NetFlix if you ever have spare time. It’s called 180 Degrees South. Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1407927/

    Basically about people who sorta just take a different approach to life and do what makes them happy. It’s a film about surfers, rock climbers, and nature. Was a pretty cool film with some great cinematography and quotes. It reminded me of the freedom that comes with playing poker and some cool opportunities that can arise from it.

  4. “Great things don’t usually happen overnight, but as long as you’re moving towards them and not away from them, you’re doing it right and you should be proud of that.”

    Great words Phil, i really appreciate this, thanks for your advice and time, and for giving so much back to the community.

    Greetings from Argentina!

  5. Phil Ivey made 5 million at craps at the Montreal casino last week. They wanted to close the table 🙂
    So do I play craps or poker as a career!!!

  6. I read your blog and really liked it I like to think I’m realistic about life and what my goals are. I respect your option and need to ask, when you say I guess you can gain experience and bank roll in a casino, do you feel that’s not a real option. I have never been an online play (even thought I did play a little)always live. Honestly Im thinking of making the jump and trying it. Would appreciate your option to help me along.

  7. Very honest and good Phil, enjoyed. A lot of this stuff is speaking loud and clear to me. Going through this sort of thing with poker and my career just now, thanks

  8. Your the man Phil! I love your poker philosophy. im giving poker a chance, ive been playing 8 years and tired of old job. i play at foxwoods and theres 1-2 plo that goes reg, i have like no bankroll but this guy who plays sometimes just will put it in pre with no regard, i love playing with him even though it is dangerous, i appreciate any advice for a player like this? and me with 500bb bankroll? lol. even with aces im scared to get 300bb pre. i did ship decent kings with 175bb. he did flop set of 9’s but i rivered flush! phew, The game when he plays stacks can get over 2k no prob so i usually limp wait for him to pot or call in pos with everything unless under 200 bb. i hope u read this sir, tks Lee

  9. Great read,I love how you break down everything.It’s like making it into a puzzle to solve.Only problem is it’s like a rubix cube and I can’t solve those,I think i’ll try your”Secret to life” tactic and try enjoying each day with something I enjoy doing and try make some short term goals and get my life in order,I can’t play small stakes poker and not be in college/have a job forever.Thanks for the advice.

  10. Great post Phil. I’m one of the people considering the move from my dayjob to poker, but your post has motivated me to not do anything rash, and just keep working & grinding for a bit to give me more time to consider my options and motivations a little more. I’m doing stuff that I can tolerate each day, so I’m in no rush.

  11. Great Post. Thanks for your words, i really enjoyed, im sure i’ll think a lot about this.

    Maybe you’ll can start to write your 10 pages of your new book this week. I’ll buy it. =)

    Keep writing.

  12. Thanks for your thoughts. Wonderful philosophical and practical points. I also appreciate the humor sprinkled in haha.

    I know u are playing online predominantly but playing live in Vegas couple months out of the year but what do u think about moving to Vegas and playing live for a living? That is what I’m considering…

  13. A great read as usual Phil. Perfect timing for me. It helped me verify some of thought processes I was using to move away from poker back to a “normal job.”

  14. Phil – Excellent post. I quit my corporate job last Friday after close to two years of contemplation. You articulate the thought process very, very well in this post. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Great read and because of this post Ive taken a lot away to think about.Be proud of yourself and the fact that because of your poker success you are making a positive difference in peoples lives and the world. Poker has been your ticket to making that difference. congrats and thank you

  16. Phil- Well said. I hope a lot of poker hopefuls read this before quitting their day job or dropping out of school. It’s worth noting that many players have recently talked about feeling unfulfilled with poker as a career… Adam Junglen and Olivier Busquet come to mind. I’m certain there are many more.

    There’s a quote from Mike McDermott that has stuck with me… “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?”

    Of course, that was back in 1998… how times have chancged. You even you said it yourself (that times have changed)… some players who killed high stakes 5 years ago can barely beat 1/2 NL now.

    The point being that the poker landscape is a mindfield today… so many good/solid players, we’re probably talking about tens of thousands worldwide. The big fish are fewer and far between. And if someone is fortunate enough to earn $100k+ in a year playing poker, I suspect it didn’t come very easily… long hours at a high stress level.

    So, if someone is still wanting to take on poker as a career full-time, they should be prepared to getting burned out quickly… then what? Back to square one.

  17. Great blog Phil. Your philosophys really strike a cord with me (also, no idea what this means) Recently had major heart surgery (repair work from chemotherapy as a teenager) and now am unable to continue my career as a gas engineer because of the physical aspects involved. So, long story short, been playing for 6 years and progressing well, even getting a deep run in the London EPT ME 25/900, but now thinking this could be my next move. This post was really helpful, thank you. Any other words of advice for someone like me looking to carve a career specifically as a Tournement player would be much appreciated.

  18. As a midstakes grinder going on nine years, now a family man, I would *strongly* recommend basically anyone who isn’t currently already making their monthly nut plus a nice overhead, to get out of the game asap. It is only getting harder, and you simply cannot count on another boom coming.

    Eight years ago, I recommended playing poker as a living to anyone with half a brain. Five years ago, I recommended it to a select few. Today, I cannot imagine a person not already extremely knowledgable, for whom poker as a profession would be the right decision. The few who COULD make it starting today would be far, far better off choosing anything else, because they’d be smart etc enough to excel in any almost field of their choosing.

    Seriously, this is not just an attempt to dishearten would-be fellow grinders, tho that obviously benefits me. It’s sound advice. Mark my words, the stories of doom and gloom from pros will only keep growing.

    1. Thx for that great comment : have been pro for 2 years now, and have worked on my game non stop in order to be a successful grinder. Mission accomplished, but the game is a grind to beat nowadays. If you do not have the proper personality for the long hours and the constant swings, do not bother.

  19. Hey Phil great blog. I’ve also been on a poker path out here in NYC but Ive kept my job plus I’m spending all my time with my family. Although I had success at poker I haven’t spend enough time on hitting a big one but I feel I’m not far. Your blog really reminds me of me so thanks for that and hope to meet you one day!

  20. Phil, Thanks for your valued time and advice to write this blog. Its help sold lots of my questions/doubt that im been searching for a very long time.

  21. poker is a great hobby, to make some extra cash on the side… full time grinder < full time job

    i now play for fun and love it more than i ever have.

    A steady 100k/yr from my day job without the swings is GREAT.. plus all the benefits that go with it 🙂

  22. Hi Phil –
    As always, very thoughtful and insightful. I expect a lot of people will get something out of this. There may be one or two whose life you redirect in a positive way. That’s +life EV right there.

    BTW, flying by the seat of your pants: pilots in WWII (IIRC) often had no gauges to tell them which way the plane was moving in the air. Their way of telling what the plane was doing was to feel it through the seat of their pants – i.e. the movement of their butt on the seat told them what the plane was doing.

    Regards, Lee

  23. Thanks Phil,

    I’ve been following your blog on and off for a while now, and always feel like I can connect with what you’re saying – mindset, some personality, and some experiences too.

    It’s great to have someone as young and well-spoken as you writing a blog like this that will reach so many people in its target audience (and I’m right smack in the middle of it!). I wouldn’t say I’m at a “crossroads” per se (quotes needed I think), but right now I AM trying to figure out how poker fits into my life, in what ways it makes me happy, unhappy, etc.

    This blog post has validated a lot of subconscious/ingrained thoughts/opinions I’ve had regarding decision making, as well as given me some new things to think about. So thank you again.

    – Matt

  24. hey phil, great blog. i have a question about bankroll management that i have never seen answered anywhere on the web. i’m a 40 year old professional musician so when i have a good night or two at the cash tables or take down a decent cash in a tourney i never know how much to pull back for bankroll. in the past i put it all aside, but inevitably bills pop up or work gets thin and that money has to be used to live on (car payments, rent or that little thing called FOOD).

    so what percentage of your profits gets pulled out to live on and what percentage stays in your bankroll? feel free to email me if you’d like.

    thanks in advance,
    bruce

  25. This will generate a few torch replies but one key piece missing in this and most other poker life guides I have read is faith.
    Poker is an inherently selfish profession. You are engaging in the systematic taking of something of value in order to sustain your own well being. For you to succeed, someone else must fail. This entire mindset is one of self focus. Faith, however, puts one in the position of putting other’s interest before one’s own. so happiness or contentment is no longer measured by setting and reaching your own goals or taking your own path, but instead it manifests itself most completely in the belief that in following a higher power’s guidance you find true joy in this life and beyond. Why? Because the basic premise of faith is that the higher power (okay, let’s say God here) has the best interest of EVERYONE in mind. So no one needs to lose for you to win OR vice versa. This is true happiness in my belief system. Notice that even among the advice to invest in relationships, you comment to be good to others – but then stratify further as ” especially those important to YOU.” Rather – Faith dictates for us to strive to treat all equally as a service to our faith itself, or put another way – to do good to others not as doing it for them but as doing it for your God. Just wanted to throw this it for thought, not as a criticism. Your comments were very well constructed, well thought out, generally solid and helpful to many I am sure.

    1. Why do you need faith to put other’s interests ahead of your own? I know that that is what many faiths profess to be about, but why can you not have these belief’s without faith? Why do you need to do good things for your God and not just for the people that you are doing them for?

      I am an athiest and I work for a government organisation that looks after others, I regularly volunteer and I give blood/plasma regularly also. I am a kind and loving person to friends, family and strangers. Why do I need faith to motivate me?

      Take your religion elsewhere.

  26. Awesome read Phil. I wish I could’ve read this advice 5 years ago, but it’s still super valuable today and for people of all ages too IMO. Thankfully I think I’ve mostly made the “right” choices (sticking out college, keeping options open, trial and error for things that do and don’t make me happy, evolving friendships) but I certainly don’t always think everything through this thoroughly before I act and it’s a good process to live by.

  27. I could literally replace “friendships” with “job” below, and describe over 2/3rds of the American workforce (including me):

    Don’t waste your time, effort, and emotion on jobs that don’t have a net positive effect on your life. People tend to feel stuck with a job, even it’s clear that nothing comes from that relationship but negativity.

    If your job makes your life harder, rather than easier and more pleasant, that’s not what a job should be, and that’s often their own fault. You don’t owe them anything just because you have been their employee.

    You owe it to yourself to cut ties with net negatives in your life (you don’t have to do it in a mean way). More importantly, you owe it to the relationships with people who are truly good to you, who deserve your attention and effort.

  28. Great analysis for poker players and people in other professions as well. I spent a lot of time playing poker because it made me happy. Compared to my day job at the time, it was heaven (play vs. work) but it wasn’t my ultimate happiness, it was just an escape.

    Once I pulled myself away from the poker table, I channeled all that extra energy into something that made me much more happy, a business I built from the ground up.

    It’s fair to say that a lot of people considering playing poker for a living just see it as an alternative to having to work a 9-5, but if you have the skills to beat poker and the balls to make it your living, there are plenty of other opportunities out there you could take advantage of if you just redirected your focus. The same rush of winning, too.

    Given the state of the games and the fact online poker is dead for the short term, and the gold rush is over, trying to play for a living sounds like a miserable life choice, but that is just me. If your in school, finish now while you have the momentum, you can do both. If you have a job you hate, you should put together plan and quit. Life is too short to spend 25% of your time doing something you hate.

  29. I feel that you really must have a love for the game to make it a profession. The money alone will not get you through the daily grind of playing. I think Phil is correct in saying new full time players should learn more games outside of holdem. Holdem fields are so large in tournys and there are so many really good players. More players should try to be like Phil in his respect for the game and players. I too grew up in Maryland and it feels good to know someone like Phil grew up there as well. GL

  30. When I have to make an important decision I like to refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Human Needs and then choose the alternative which will fulfil these needs most effectively.

    1. Read Viktor Frankl’s epic existential masterpiece “Man’s Search For Meaning”. The original title was “From Deathcamp to Existentialism”. He was a neuroscientist/psychiatrist who spent years in Nazi concentration camps. He used his time studying other prisoners and trying to figure out why some survived the insane hardships and others gave up. The book is about those experiences and his formation of the third Viennese school of thought called “Logotherapy”. Literally “Meaning Therapy”. The focus of his work was helping people find meaning in life.
      In my opinion he eloquently argues against Maslow’s hierarchy, with self-actualization at the top, as incomplete and ultimately illusory. He say the more we seek self-actualization the more we miss it. It is through self-transcendance that we are actualized. The whole book is a masterpiece on finding meaning in life.

  31. Phil….I’m 60 years old and feel I learned from your blog. Never too old to learn. As I grew up I realized my parents were pretty smart and always had my best interest at heart. When one of my sons married, he told us that he appreciated all the things we have done for him, even though there were some tough times. I really like the Net Positive/ Net Negative with friends. Life is too short for Net Negative. Thanks for your insight.

  32. Hey Phil-

    Amazing blog as always. In the last section you say
    “I’m not even sure I’ve been making the best possible decisions for my life and career over the past year. ”

    My response- You will realize as you grow older that life is nothing more than a whole bunch of random variables. Choosing the “best” route is not necessarily the most important. And by the best what do you mean, the best in your eyes, in your family’s eyes, in your children’s eyes etc etc. What is important is that you are happy, and as long as that is in place the rest of the pieces will fall into place. Don’t stress about making the “best” or most “+EVLife/+EV$” decisions, focus on being true to yourself and being happy with the people you care most about.

    Warm Regards,

    Mike

  33. what would u do if u were someone (me) whose done nothing but play poker for 23 yrs, no other income, no apt, no car, and had done it for too long to change, and now were finally down to a bankroll of less than 30 buyins of $100? details in my blog on my forum. tons of people read about it everyday and offer advice. i worry a great deal, not used to being this broke, worry i cannot afford to keep paying for hotels and will end up on the streets broke. been running extra bad lately, games are getting tougher.

    the only solution is to just grind out $75-150 a day online at home somewhere in a cheap apt, but thats not realistic either, for until the laws change im afraid if i deposited say $300-500 of that online and started working it up in sngs and plo8 the govt would end up seizing it, or id never be able to get it out and then the check would bounce.

    if u read the blog please post advice

  34. Great read from an recent MBA grad and poker enthusiast, struggling to find my niche in the job market. Good, sound advice.

  35. i like what i read,you are 27 and not just smart,keep going with the good job,hope everything go”s well for u.I wish u a good life.

  36. Hi Phil,

    I encourage you to read the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. It’s a relatively small book so nothing too scary about it. I think Coyle would have a different set of points that make a poker player great and your opinion would be amazing. The book is a good read as well and broadens your knowledge.

    It was good meeting you this summer. You are an inspiration to many so keep it up.

    Lee

  37. Unfortunately your entire post is made with respect to one person. You. Try applying any of this with someone you need to care for.

    Doesn’t mean dreams can’t be realized, but its an insane world when your choices must reflect others needs.

    A guy I know was one of the best most profitable poker players in a large metro area, but now he has a family and its no longer an option. Think about walking in those shoes everyday when using your examples above.

    Life isn’t always as it could be.

  38. Great blog post, Phil. Enjoyed reading it!

    Your top-of-mind goals and values are very similar to mine (on a way other level ofcourse), but these thrive my happiness too.

    It’s ironic, but goal 2 seems to make me happy and be a stressfactor at the same time. The constant need to improve at (several) things but not have the time and/or mental fitness to accomplish that. It feels like an endless struggle and that sucks.

    Keep it up, man!

  39. Dear Phil,

    a couple of days ago I checked your page and was pissed you haven´t posted anything in such a long time. And a day later
    I come back just to find you wrote another free “book” for us. Thank you so much…I actually haven´t read it yet…but I know it´ll be awsome…all the best 2 u & please keep us up to date concerning your thoughts and adventures.

    With best regards

    Sebastian

  40. Well, i played a lot of poker when i was in college. It definitely gave the opportunity to live luxury and relaxed, but it also cost me a lot of time. In the beginning of 2011 i started to play professionally and it went great until black Friday. To me this give me the opportunity to look at my future. At that moment i was not willing to deposit my bankroll (lucky me i was able to get most off by bankroll of full tilt)at another site since i couldn’t predict the future, and there was a lot of uncertainty about online poker. I ended up to decide to finish of college (still had to finish of more then two years), and then look again for next opportunities (like Phill said, live the day, enjoy en make short term goals). Amazingly by putting all my energy in the short (1 year) goal to finish of college it was pretty ease. All the energy went into accumulating study points and i didn’t need to divide attention and energy between poker study friends etc. It also feels great to have the opportunity to fall back at plan B (a degree). So right know i’m orientating for the next phase of life. When i decided to quit poker for a year (actually i played a very little bit :)) i also decided that perhaps in summer 2012 after finishing college i would take a shot for one month (short term) and after playing that month reevaluate things. But still, when i’m able to find a nice job i prob take it, and i will take up poker for less hours. If i’m able to make decent winnings on a regular basis i could also decide to play full time. But i also realize that i must at least earn like two times a regular job that fits me, just because to compensate for uncertainty and missing benefits that comes with a normal job. Still i should be able to fall back at plan B when plan A is not working (games to hard, to few games, new games i cant win, etc.)

    So i guess, just finish college. Keep some focus and after graduating you decide whats best in your interest right there and then. While poker is still a game, most of professional sporters are playing games. And i know i have had never the abilities to be a prof soccer player or golfer etc. The same applies to poker, to be a prof player you need to be in consistent winner over long time. Its not about being a good player, its being a good player that is able to compete and is able to win whit skills. So basically don’t expect to be a prof poker player. Focus at things you know your good at, and maybe play poker in your spare time. If it works well…………… then you could try to play professionally. If its not working out, you fall back at your degree of work experience.

  41. Great read bro, truly inspiring. You give yourself a lot less credit than you should, but that’s probably for the best, for reasons clearly written in your post.

    Keep it up!

    Cheers

  42. Great article. I am not being a poker pro, totally aware that I have a very very long road to travel before I actually make a final table in the WPT. Poker is all about the journey, not the destination especially to amateur players that have day jobs. To the amateur, qualifying online for a WPT really *is* a high point, and in my case requires a reservation at the Blue Water Cafe (super restaurant here in my city) and a seriously good bottle of wine. The poker pro qualifies dozens of time and barely remembers the players at the final table online. The amateur remembers every hand.

    When I asked tedsfishfry in Cyprus if he remembered the final table that I co-qualified with him, he politely told me that no, he did not, because he was probably ten-tabling at the time, sorry. Nice guy, but the world of a poker pro is different. Wins are normal, there are a lot, and the random amateur just does not register on the radar. To some poker pros, qualifying amateurs are like the mosquitoes of the poker world … annoying and there always seem to be some around. That definition was given when I was at the table, with the rejoinder “Hey Yves, come on, you are in a different category, you are a luckbox of universal proportions” … with friends like that …

    My point is that the the young aspiring pro, life decisions are important when you mix in the money-making “problem” of being a poker pro. The one point I find missing from your blog post is the fact that many poker players are “game personalities” or basically people that are happiest when in a serious game of some type, challenged, and motivated.

    When I sit at a WPT table, I am immediately typecast as “the old tight white guy” because, well, I am old, white, and I guess look tight. Clearly an amateur because no one recognizes me. I am there because despite my day job I am a “game personality” seriously happiest when challenged.

    In my late twenties and thirties, the “game” for me was building up my first company, what I still call “the biggest game in town”. Today I direct a group of companies and yes, it is still a game that I take very seriously.

    What really gets me charged up these days? Qualifying into a WPT and playing serious poker.

    The bottom line is that playing poker at as high a level as you can is not always about choosing to play or not. You can take on a new challenge and keep the poker because your game personality is not going away anytime soon … it is who you are.

    Go to college and also play poker; work hard in both.

  43. Phil, your post motivated my first post here. At your age you are wise WAYYYYYY beyond your years. Your required poker skill characteristics include “Psychology, social adeptness, understanding how people think and how they are affected by things (considerate people)”. I personally think you have a double dose of this trait.

    I would also highly recommend any aspiring poker player read, study and burn this article into their brain and their way of thinking. I can find no flaws to your article (although I am sure may be one or two if I looked hard) and I personally asked myself many of these questions five years ago. I chose my career and I am very successful at it and therefore it allows me to play poker with little pressure along with maximizing my enjoyment of the game.

    Good job there youngling 😉

    QSS

  44. Great post Phil – I’m at somewhat of a crossroads with a boring but stable full-time job and a sometimes lucrative part-time job as a poker player, and this really helps the way I approach my decision. Your honesty and ability to verbalize your decision-making process, in poker and in life, are always refreshing and informative. Thanks Phil!

  45. Hey Phil, do you have someone you can recommend in nyc that gives holdem and omaha lessons? Looking to give as a gift. Thanks

  46. well phil just wanna say you have a leval head on your shoulders and injoyed looking over your site , good luck in all the games you play

  47. great post and great timing.

    i have been playing for a living for the past 4 1/2 years. post black friday i have had to travel to grind live poker and i am now considering selling my home and moving closer to casino or maybe out of USA to get back into online poker

    you gave me lots of food for thought – thanks

  48. “fly by the seat of my pants”
    First off, thanks for a great post, got link from @therealkidpoker
    When I read that u didn’t know what it meant I realized, hey I never thought about that, so I did for 2 seconds and here is what I came up with.
    Fly’s like the smell of sh** so naturally they hang out by the seat of your pants, but for no rhyme or reason they will just fly off after a few seconds… Hey, u got something better?

  49. Thank you. You articulate your observations in ways that are incisive and meaningful. Become the quintessential poker player/ blogger please. Like a modern day warrior poet.

  50. Great read Phil!! Really helps keep things in perspective and how humility is such a important part of poker.Sometime its nice to hear some of your own thoughts from someone else. Thanks a bunch! look forward to all your blogs

  51. Great, great post. A question: do you think playing poker for a living will ever be considered truly ‘respectable’, unless you’re a huge winner?

    Reason I ask, I spent a couple of years grinding small-stakes (even wrote a couple of articles for poker mags), but quit to start a web company.

    Now the company is live and growing, that poker-playing gap in the founder’s CV has actually cost it two potential investors. One didn’t want to back an ‘ex-gambler’ and the other hinted that the whole world of poker was untrustworthy (and therefore, I had to be too).

    FTP was in the news at the time.

  52. Hi Phil,

    Not sure u read the comments, but that was a nice open-minded, poker-oriented, based on experience approach to life and to decision making.

    I tend to believe I understand the ideas as u described them and would not aggree with some part of them which makes your posts so good to read because everyone take some piece of advice and/or solve some problems they have just thinking about the food you give for thought.

    Thx and I am sending you my appreciation for what you do here and for the fact that you like and try to make others better.

  53. I’m amateur on poker, but I have good tip for some guys. Do NOT quit your job/school unless you can live without any other income than poker. If you can’t, don’t quit. Put ALL TIME into relationships, friends, dating etc. that you can. But always when you have ‘free-time’, play poker. Just 1-3hrs a DAY really makes a difference after couple years. If you have potential, it’s already started to snowball by that point. Take some notes per day and try to analyze how you could have won bit more on this session. And when you put all your time to relationships, poker is just small thing in your life. If poker isn’t going well, get off table and go date ppl, you don’t feel sad and don’t get tilted. And you have life outside the poker, that comes really important when you quit your job/school because you really can’t play poker 12hrs/day, you will get too easily tilting unless you have years of practice.

  54. Hey Phil, I have something that has bothered me for a long time, and that I would really like to get your view of.

    If possible for you, then Please contact me through mail.

  55. Thanks for the post Phil. For your next one, could you consider continuing the story of your poker journey that you started in the post before this one?

  56. Lots of good points in this article that I think most older successful poker players have started thinking about a lot more since April 2011. Particularly about evaluating what you think could make you the most happy and if poker do that for you.
    This is an excerpt from Forbes magazine that has particularly made me re-think poker as a living:
    “4. Experience True Pleasure. Avoid shallow and transient pleasures. Keep your life simple. Seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind. True pleasure is disciplined and restrained. In its many shapes and forms, pleasure is what every human being is after. It is the chief good of life. Yet not all pleasures are alike. Some pleasures are kinetic—shallow, and transient, fading way as soon as the act that creates the pleasure ends. Often they are succeeded by a feeling of emptiness and psychological pain and suffering. Other pleasures are catastematic—deep, and prolonged, and continue even after the act that creates them ends; and it is these pleasures that secure the well-lived life. That’s the message of the Epicurean philosophers that have been maligned and misunderstood for centuries, particularly in the modern era where their theories of the good life have been confused with doctrines advocating gross hedonism.”
    What makes you feel better Phil? Feeling good while writing articles such as this one where you are getting all of this positive feedback? Or securing yourself financially EVEN more and more by playing a game that might not necessarily give you that sense of true long term feeling goodness? It sounds like you are keeping a nice balance. Maybe you are at the point now where you can use what you’ve accomplished in poker and use this ‘legendary status’ as a way to incorporate some of your other interests into your life a bit more and slowly gravitate away from feeling like a neurotic pokerslut.
    Also my only quarrel with this article is you call your second 3 categories (which includes competitive drive) a “minor” category. I would certainly argue with you this is and HAS been more important than any of the other categories.
    Thanks!
    – Ben

  57. WOW specific to “Predicting Greatness” that section is MONEY, so well written and presented. Cudos, Sir. Someday will buy you a beer!

  58. I liked your post. I make my living investing in securities, and I see many parallels. I’m not good enough to be a poker pro so I have never had the dilemma about whether or not to become pro, but I get asked similar questions by people entering the investing field, and I have thought about many of the same topics.

    One thing I’d add to your great 3.5 secrets to life: I think it’s important to consider what your net impact to society will be at the end of your life. After 30 years, even successful poker players have done not much more careerwise than move cards around and extracted a certain amount of money. Likewise, investors are not doing much more careerwise than pushing little pieces of paper around. It’s very different than a career in, say, engineering where after 30 years you might have built dozens of bridges, or improved a certain technique for enhancing the safety of bridges. Or, a doctor might have improved the health of thousands of individuals over their career. Or a worker at google might have found a way to advance the possibility of driverless cars. I think it’s this ‘net societal impact’ aspect that leads some poker pros and investment pros to feel unfulfilled after a long time. We poker/investment pros have basically figured out a loophole in life that lets us win the lottery on a gradual basis. However, winning the lottery doesn’t make society better. We aren’t building anything or improving mankind by exploiting our loophole.

    There are other things that successful pros can do to compensate and feel more fulfilled, including charitable activities. However, I think these compensating activities are fundamentally different than choosing a career that *directly* produces societal benefits. I’m not saying that we should all be social workers. But, even auto mechanics or computer programmers are useful to society. I feel somewhat sad that many ultra-smart & analytical people are choosing to dedicate their lives to poker or investing, because many of these guys would have excelled at being scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs, etc. It’s almost like a bunch of the smartest young people have figured out a way to play Monopoly profitably, and have dedicated their lives to sitting around a board game just playing Monopoly all day. At the end of 30 years, playing Monopoly is not going to be that fulfilling.

  59. phil i dnot know why am writing this, because i dnot think anyone can anwser this,i know i i have a gift of understanding how others act.i had some good sucsess in poker (made 16k in 8 week over 8 tourny).been playing seriously for a year,but i live in the arse end of the west of ireland were becoming a pro poker player is not understud.i dnot like to read poker books cause everyone reads poker books but not everyone wins.i want to do something with my life that i can i be proud of and i know i will love, and poker is the answer,i think what i want to ask is how where u brave enough to go pro and just go for it.

  60. good stuff- I have been reading psych book/happiness books as well. six predictors of happiness are self esteem, sense of perceived control,extroverted, optimistic, social relationships, and a sense of purpose in life…. try and have every decision you make fall in one of these categories.
    – I heard happiness in relation to income peaks at around 60k per year, so I was wondering how many hours of poker a day/ week would be optimal in relation to happiness in your opinion.

  61. Great blog Phil!, i really enjoyed it. Was this related to the email is sent, or did you get a lot of similar questions?

  62. It’s great to see it in writing, Finally!

    Wish I learned about ending net negative EV friendships last year when my bankroll was over $100k and didn’t know what to do with the money… A series of Loans, staking arrangements, and other typical degen stuff has me now getting backed for a living…

    Phil is 100% accurate, when u are on the cusp of breaking out, cut off the interaction with others who will only bring u down!

  63. Article was indeed all over place but you covered some very interesting areas. Always nice see how highly successful people think.

    My boat to jump into the poker world has long sailed… both GF and I have stable jobs, a kid to raise. The occasional Sunday donk-a-ment is always fun and brings memories when I was serious about playing FT.

    Keep up the interesting articles! Take care Phil.

  64. You excel at cards. It would be better to see more about that here, and less of the generic life advice that anybody can drum up.

  65. Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants
    This is early aviation parlance. Aircraft initially had few navigation aids and flying was accomplished by means of the pilot’s judgment. The term emerged in the 1930s and was first widely used in reports of Douglas Corrigan’s flight from the USA to Ireland in 1938.

    That flight was reported in many US newspapers of the day, including this piece, entitled ‘Corrigan Flies By The Seat Of His Pants’, in The Edwardsville Intelligencer, 19th July 1938:

    “Douglas Corrigan was described as an aviator ‘who flies by the seat of his pants’ today by a mechanic who helped him rejuvinate the plane which airport men have now nicknamed the ‘Spirit of $69.90’. The old flying expression of ‘flies by the seat of his trousers’ was explained by Larry Conner, means going aloft without instruments, radio or other such luxuries.”

    http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/139400.html

  66. Hey I was wondering your opinion on any poker books in general and or specifically for NL holdem. Do you believe there any true benefit from reading them and what one have you taken the most out of. Thanks.

  67. Hey Phil!

    Love your blog and your game! Really appreciate your attitude to everything!

    Ok, what comes now is really OT, but you’re a guy that comes to the variest types of solutions. I talked to a lot of people and everyone comes to another guess. So why don’t ask Phil? Maybe he has this one genius thought!

    I am studying in Munich now and just got back from studying 2 semesters abroad. I am looking to share a flat with two friends here and found something, we nearly signed it two days ago, but unfortunately another friend of me told me about a super nice flat in the super center of Munich. Really nice old wooden floors high ceilings, really big etc. Not too expensive actually, and I have way more than 12 monthly rents in the background after all other expenses, but the agents here in Munich want to see the earnings of the last three months. We are all students, don’t work at the moment (except poker..) and just have some financial backgrounds. Of course we are going to work in an office again in 1 or 2 months, but the agents dont care about that..

    We thought our parents could have helped us out, but none of our parents could afford to rent such a big flat (about 1700€ monthly).

    It is so hard to find flats here in Munich and now we found something but it seems this dream is gonna blow. As my friend told me about this flat it seemed to me this once in a million catch. Everything sounded super nice and when I saw the flat I couldn’t believe the price. In my eyes its way too low for that kind of flat in the heart of munich.

    I know your busy but maybe you have some thoughts that might help us..

    If your having this one genius idea for me, than your welcome every time to our flat. In the end of september there is the ‘oktoberfest’ here, our flat is quite near;)

    Thanks mate!
    K

  68. Hey just watching you play isildur on line omaha hu’s. its pretty fun actually trying to deduce where u stand on each hand and on grassias IV the last 30 mins has been pretty interesting seeing how your mind works. Have been reading your posts for a while (actually more on life than poker) and this one really resonated with me.

    I actually dropped out of school when I was 19 to play (i’m 27 now) and actually just decided to go back to college. Been playing poker ever since mostly live not online (actually I live and play high stakes poker in India last 4 yrs. ) and I totally get what you’re saying about being happy vs more money. Most of my life money since I’ve only earned it from poker has been an undervalued commodity. I never really saved or invested (lessons I learn now). Anything I earned I gambled, spent or invested in my roll (with the only goal being playing bigger games). Along the way I went broke (for all different reasons) twice but always bounced back. For me the last 7 yrs playing poker has taught me so much about myself as a person inside out and I think you have totally nailed the right attributes it takes to be a successful poker player.

    For me poker was a subset of life mirroring the upsides and downsides in a myriad of metaphors. Decided to go back to school now cause poker isn’t giving me that happiness it used to earlier. I don’t get that joy and the void in me that I used to fill with poker is just becoming more apparent. I love the game but I’ve let the game define me which I don’t like.

    I decided to go back to school cause its the one regret I have not having an education. Sure I’m more successful in some ways than most people my ages but you know what got to me I realized something last month. As a poker player I live off the losses of less skilled individuals who for the most part are recreational players. They are individuals who are successful in another walk of life and for them their losses for the most part are an entertainment budget. If on my tombstone it read : “here lies XXXX a poker player who high stakes fish loved to play cause he gave them action ” that would be horrible. Basically this is a step towards doing more.

    I’ve been rambling about me, but my main point is I have read many blogs but I really like the direction you take with yours. It inspires me and makes me feel positive about decisions I am taking.

    The advice you give is insightful and wholesome not just on poker but on life in general and i just wanted to applaud u on that. Its always been a pleasure to read and i’m just that your poker career is but a stepping stone for something else cause if it isn’t I truly believe you might be selling your abilities short (which is fine also if it makes u happy).

    anyways peace

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