Monday, July 12, 2010

The Start of something big.

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." - Stephen King


Four months is a long time. I know this, I understand it, and yet when your day is filled to the brim nearly every day, its tough to get online and write a blog. All this I guess begs the question of why today I'm able to actually take some time out and write down what has been happening in the recent past and will be happening to me in the near future. And there is a lot to write about, so this post may very well fall into the "Holy crap, thats a lot to read" territory. Since I know some of you may not want to read 6 pages worth of material, I'll get to the main reason for my post immediatley, and work from there.

Today is my last day punching the clock and working for someone other than myself. Hopefully forever, at the very least for the forseeable future. When I started working with Nick back in November, my ultimate goal was always this. Work hard, learn, improve, and absorb everything I could, really looking to determine whether playing poker full time is a viable career option. After 8 months, I can say now that everything I have seen and done has shown to me that this is something that I can do and support my family. Obviously, transitioning into a full time career playing poker has both its pros and cons, but after weighing them both against each other, the pros (getting to spend more time with my family, no commute, saving on gas, working from home, income increase, potential future earnings) far outweigh the negatives (fear and doubt, uncertainty, surviving variance.)

So two weeks ago, I gave my notice at Verizon. I had quite a few people ask me why I wouldn't just quit and get to grinding, and while its a valid question, the answers aren't hard to find. I came to Verizon looking for a job during a tough time, and while my employment was beneficial to them, they also did not turn me away. Couple that with the fact that of the call centers I have worked for, this one is by far the best and treats their employees with the greatest amount of respect, it is easy to see why I would give them the courtesy to be able to look for a replacement. After working here, it is clear why I will be a Verizon customer for life. I leave with no ill will on either side, and if the need arrises in the future, hope to be able to return to continue my employment.

As Mr. King says in the above quote, hard work is the key in tapping into talent and using it to help make you succesful. I'm sure there are people out there who will feel that what I am going into will be easy, a cake walk, walk in the park. That being able to set my own hours, wear what I want, vacation when I want etc. are all this job will be about. While there are some wonderful perks to working from home, playing poker for a living is far from glamorous. For those of us that are considered grinders, poker is exactly that, we put in a large amount of hours every day. We deal with negative variance that can at times make us question our abilities. Online poker, playing 10-14 tournaments at a time is very mentally taxing. While a lot of the game is fairly automatic to me now in a lot of situations, there are still many many times a day where a very important decision must be made weighing mathmatical probabilities, possible outcomes, how the decision will affect my image, and most importantly whether the decision is correct in terms of expected value, all within the span of about 20 seconds max. In comparisson, in my job right now, I cannot remember the last time that I've made any significant decision, and the output from my brain required to do my job is virtually nil.

While there were a few moments of fear and uncertainty when I finally reached the decision, with each day that has passed towards my end date with Verizon, a greater sense of calm has come over me. The decision has been made, the papers have been signed, and starting tomorrow, the only thing I will need to do is get up, get myself ready, go to my computer, and treat poker as a job. Poker is no longer a hobby or recreation for me. For millions, it is still exactly that, and it is now my job to take their recreation money and put it into my pocket. I am part of a very small percentage of people who can call this great game a career.

How much work will actually be required of me then? Best I can tell, Ill be looking at anywhere from 45-50 hours per week, and while some may say "Well, aren't you working more than you were at your other job?" Well sure, if you don't count in my two hours of commute every day, my one hour lunch, and the fact that I didnt see my family hardly ever. I however, do count those things, and I wasn't being paid for any of it. My goals (And while I say goals here, this is more or less a requirement. Its the same as if your boss says he needs a 20 page report done in 1 week. You wont make a 20 page report your goal for that week, you'll finish that 20 pages because its your job.) for the month to start with will be 2500 games. While I'm not setting a monetary goal, my current per game win rate puts me at a comfortable earn rate to support my family. It is important at this point to continue to focus and improve, making the best decisions possible with every game that I load. Its not fullproof, errors still occur, but learning from them is key. My errors come few and far between now, but recognizing them quickly and correcting them is what makes me a winning player. I made a large mistake last night that cost me a good shot at a win, but its not something that will happen again, heat of the moment or not. With that, I think I'm going to break this into two parts. The second part is going to reflect more on the past four months, and how the changes there have affected my decision.