Friday, December 21, 2007

Am I better because of poker? Part 1: Finances

Back when CC was over at Pokerworks, he wrote an excellent series of articles about the impact poker had on his life. It was an introspective and well written series, and I felt compelled to write something similar. I emailed him asking for permission to copy his format, and he graciously agreed. I, however, let time pass and never sat down to write my own series.

Now that months have passed, and I think I’m finally ready for the introspection.

So, in homage to CC’s original series, here is my look at this wonderful, crazy, frustrating and rewarding game and the impact it’s had on my life.

I’ll cover the following topics:

- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship


I decided to start with this topic, because it’s the easiest one to quantify. I’ve tracked my play since the beginning of 2006, so the financial impact poker has made on my life is easily measurable and, luckily, positive.

The first time I ever played poker was in the Flamingo poker room in April of 2003. I had been watching the WPT with Banky on Sunday afternoons for a little while, and was intrigued. On a previous Vegas trip, Banky played 7 Card Stud, but I was too shy to approach the poker tables. This time, I mustered up the courage to give Limit Hold’em a try. I really only remember two things from that time at the tables: calling out that I had a straight at showdown, only to realize that I didn’t, in fact, have a straight and chatting with a tablemate who told me about a place on the web where you could play poker. He seemed shy when I asked him for the name of the site, but eventually he told me it was called ‘PartyPoker’. When Banky and I made it home, it wasn’t long before I signed up for an account.

I played on Party for a long time. I have no idea how much I won or lost. Only that I probably lost more than I won. But I had an amazing time. I then switched to Pokerstars (I can’t remember why). Banky and I started playing in some local home games, and were active on a poker forum. At the end of 2005, we decided that to truly get better at poker, we needed to track our results. Being a corporate drone, I’m an Excel wiz so I whipped up a spreadsheet and we tracked every cent.

Sometime in 2006, Banky discovered PokerSourceOnline where you got “free” stuff for completing bonus at various poker sites, and I became his guinea pig. I played on Pokerstars,, absolute, and Ultimate Bet. We got poker books, a folding poker table and other various ‘rewards’. But the real reward came on one random day in the middle of ’06. I can’t recall why, but I was at home for the day. At the time I was playing on Absolute, and I started off playing 1/2LHE. I had an incredible run that day, and rampaged my way up in levels. Every time I got enough to play at a higher level, I moved up. Soon I was playing 25/50 (or a limit close to that…the memory is fuzzy), and I Could. Not. Lose.

I hit every draw. Every high pocket pair held up. Every call I made was right. It was insanity. When Banky arrived home from work, I showed him my balance. I had made over $7,000. In one day.

Now this amount might be pitiful for some ballers out there. But the highest buy-in games we had ever played were $50 freezeout sng homegames. Online, $20 sngs were on the high side for us. This amount of money was more than I imagined making in poker in a year, nevermind one day.

After a few days, I decided to cash most of it out. In retrospect, it might have been wiser to try and continue to build a bankroll. But I had no delusions of grandeur. I knew that I had been incredibly lucky on one day, I didn’t expect that the luck would continue. I thought that cashing out would be my best bet. However, I didn’t just want to roll that money into our regular bank account. It was, afterall, poker money! So Banky and I opened a separate account for our poker winnings. We dubbed this our ‘poker fund’. At one point, the fund was up to 12,000. In the last year, it’s dwindled down to $4,000 – but not because of poker losses….instead we went to Mexico, remodeled our bathroom and installed some new windows.

I do still take the occasional shot at the higher levels – with various degrees of success and failure. I know it takes big money to make big money. Sometimes I crave the thrill of the higher limits, and sometimes I just want to play for the sake of playing.

As for 2007 – it’s been a good year. We’re both ‘up’ – but not by nearly as much in 2006. The thing is, as much as poker has had a positive financial impact in the sense that I have more money because of it – I’m not as interested in the money as I used to be. I’m less concerned about the financial cost (or benefit) of the poker session, than I am in how I played it and how much fun I had. Having a hobby that pays for itself is a joy.


BamBam said...

Just to keep you both informed...

There seems to be an EH-Cup weekend brewing over the holidays. Kat, Carson and the rest of the "Tuck's," Astin and of course the two of you. I'll keep you posted.

Also, our cave es'su cave for the night, so don't let that factor into your decision. Peb's and I will take no excuses this time.
We have room for everyone.


Ed Reif said...

Nice blog PT