This past weekend was 9 years since I graduated college and officially became a professional poker player. It was not my intention to play poker full time when I graduated, but as I was applying for jobs, I was also playing poker and doing quite well. I really enjoyed the strategy and thinking aspects of poker and was making a good amount of money at it, so I decided to continue indefinitely. It’s amazing to see how far I have come in the 9 years since I started this hobby.
Poker was much more of a lucrative hobby than a job back then. Back when I started, I used to play whenever I felt like it. Now, I try to put in at least 40 hours a week and stick to a consistent work schedule that allows me to work when my wife is at work. I remember using my old desktop computer from school to play, playing a few hands at a time and looking at the statistics program whenever I had a question about an opponent. Now, I get a top of the line laptop every 2 years, so that it is fast enough for me to play 12-16 games at a time and so that it can run the necessary software I need. I have coordinated statistics so that they are on the screen near my opponents names so I can constantly refer to them when making decisions. No more switching back and forth between programs for me. I have also souped up my mouse so that I can take any action I want with the click of a button.
I spend many hours a week looking through my database of hands, examining my own tendencies in order to improve them as well as looking to spot the tendencies of my opponents so that I can exploit them. I spend hours reviewing hands and trying to figure out better ways to play them, discussing them with friends and trying to improve. Every small edge becomes magnified because I play more than 1.5 million hands a year. I have sought coaching from mental game experts (Tommy Angelo and Jared Tendler), in order to help me be more focused at the tables and to help deal with the inevitable swings that occur in poker.
Over the course of the last 9 years I have switched games several times from limit hold’em to no limit hold’em sprinkling in a few tournaments and a bit of omaha. At each step I have been lucky enough to be ahead of the learning curve and have found techniques and changed my poker game to be successful.
I still vividly remember celebrating the first time I won a seat to the World Series of Poker Main Event and being so excited to play in it. I have played in the World Series of Poker several times since then in addition to the European Poker Tour Championship. Each time I played was a fun and rewarding experience and I hope to play more of them in the future.
Unfortunately, over the past 9 years, I have not been alone in my pursuit of playing better poker. Over the last 4 years especially, many more people have become professionals and use the same tools and techniques that I do. This has made the games tougher as a whole, but I enjoy the challenge of competing against better opponents. Everyone has aspects of their game that are weaker and it is my job, literally, to take advantage of those weaknesses.
I love the life that playing poker has afforded me especially the flexibility in my schedule. I am excited to continue being a professional poker player and look forward to looking back in another 9 years with hopefully even greater successes!