How professional poker affects your life part 1,2 & 3

    • Khaliesje
      Joined: 11.08.2012 Posts: 15
      Poker and emigration (part 3)

      It has been months since my last blog and a lot happened in my life. I broke up with my girlfriend, so I decided it was time to travel and clear my mind. After that it was difficult to get back on the grind, but now I’m almost back on track. But that is not the topic I want to write about. This blog will be about why I moved to another country and travel around and how this affects my life. Do I feel at home everywhere, or nowhere at all.

      The obvious reason for immigration are the bad taxes in my country. But I think I always wanted to live abroad, explore, discover and find adventure. I settled on Italy, it's a beautiful country, good food and a nice-sounding language I can’t speak. I figured I would try to learn it but life got in the way (as usual). I live in a small village with approximately 2000 residents, and probably about 20 that speak English. You can imagine it is difficult to build a social life here, I am doomed to live like a hermit, or learn the language --> Hermit it is!

      At the moment a poker friend lives with me with whom I lived before, so I have someone to actually talk to in real life. But even if I live here alone or travel around by myself I don’t feel lonely. For some reason Facebook, Whatsapp or Skype is enough for me to keep loneliness away. I’m used to no human interaction, I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative development. In the movie Cast away Tom Hanks turns his volleyball into a person to communicate with. My phone is my Mr. Wilson. Without it I think my life will be a lot more difficult and more lonely. I remember the scene he loses Mr. Wilson, I imagine I would feel the same emotions losing my phone even though it’s not completely the same. Through my phone I connect with friends and family but it is still just an object even though it feels different to me.

      Right now I’m planning to travel to South America for a while in 2014, start in Colombia and go from there. My Spanish is better than my Italian, I am going to force myself to take some Spanish lessons while I am there. Even though it seems like I’m living the dream by going anywhere I want and do whatever I want, when I want it. It doesn’t feel like that to me. I don’t really have “dreams” anymore. I just do whatever sounds like fun or new to me. I don’t think I appreciate the options and possibilities I have got as much as I should. I have no clue how to change that. I try to “stop and smell the roses” in small moments, like a beautiful sunset or on a nice autumn day like today when I can see the vineyards changing colors. I know happiness is in the small things in life, and that’s what I am trying realize on a daily basis. But I want to enjoy the highlights of life too. I realize I am in the prime of my life, and I’m doing all the things people dream they could do, or would have done in their life. And it’s frustrating that I can’t find joy or happiness in that. Don’t get me wrong, I am not depressed or unhappy. I just feel I’m not getting maximum value out of my life. I’ve thought about going back to Holland, but I am scared that in the future I will regret all the opportunities I missed. Also I’m not even sure I will find peace of mind and happiness there. I rather regret the things I did do, than the things I didn’t do. This makes me kind of restless.

      Because I moved to another country I have lost some friends, and some ties with family got lost. But the friendships I maintained grew stronger. I make an effort to keep in touch and when I visit Holland I spend quality time with them. Some friends already visited me abroad, and I’m sure more will follow. I have a small brother and sister (13 and 9 years old) and I regret that I have to see them growing up through facebook. A couple of months ago I was in Holland and my brother suddenly had a lower voice. Which made me happy because slowly he is growing into a man, but at the same time made me realize I am missing their childhood. But traveling around the world also gave me the opportunity to meet many interesting people. Some of them I am happy to call my friends. While traveling you meet a lot more open minded people, people with a similar way of life, people with similar views on life.

      Traveling definitely gives me a unique life experience, even though I’m uncertain it will be useful in my future life. It made me practice my social skills. Talk to strangers every day while traveling and I still do, now that I’m back in Europe. During my travels I also found a new way of life which fits me well for now: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. If you stay in your comfort zone life will become boring. I need to reach out of my comfort zone to feel excitement and to feel alive! Even though I see so many new places and things, it all feels the same. It’s because I am already comfortable going from place to place and live in strange countries so it in my comfort zone. I have to find it in different more extreme things or I will be bored out of my mind very soon. But it can also be in very simple things. Like start an awkward conversation about something that bothers you or makes you curious. Or you see a good looking girl on the street and you just walk up to her to say “hi”. The more things you do that are out of your comfort zone, the wider your comfort zone will grow.

      So when will I be done with traveling and where will I settle? These are questions I ask myself every day and I can’t come up with a satisfying answer. I know traveling is currently just a way to kill boredom and honestly I am just making sure I wont regret not traveling for when I no longer can. . I made a very long bucket list with countries I want to visit and things I want to do, which should keep me occupied for at least another couple of years. This should give me enough time to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Maybe I will just fall in love somewhere and just stay there forever.. That actually sounds like a pretty solid plan to me.

      A friend send me this quote by Imam Shafi’l RH this week. I found some comfort in it and hope my restlessness is normal in some way.

      “The intelligent and refined find no rest in dwelling in one place,
      So leave your homeland and travel far away!
      Travel and you will meet new people replacing those left behind,
      And tire yourself out, because it makes life worth living!
      I have seen that water stagnates when it stands still,
      Yet when I runs it is sweet and pure.
      And if a lion left not its land,
      It would not catch its prey
      And if the arrow left not the bow,
      It would not hit its aim
      And if the sun moved not across the horizon,
      People the world over would have tired of the sky”

      - Imam Shafi’I RH


      Poker and my future career (part 2)

      I never had a real passion for any field of work. In school I didn’t really excel in a particular area, beside math. I tried a couple of different bachelor studies, but nothing could interest me longer than 1 or 2 years. Then I found poker. It started out for fun with friends but once I realized I could make a living doing it, I spend almost all of my spare time on this. I would wake up with it, and go to bed with it, and even dream about it. I wasn’t just dreaming about winning the World Series, I was processing the information I didn’t have time to process in the day. When I gave up my job and study to do this, I was very happy and confident. I thought I had found my dream job which I could make a lot of money with and do this for the next 20 years to come. Boy was I wrong! Poker has some big upsides, but also a lot of downsides. I think people underestimate how stressful it really is. I might die of a heart attack before 50 if I keep doing this. I plan to live at least a couple of years longer than that. So lately I have been thinking what I could and want to do if I leave the games for ever.

      Poker has spoiled me in a lot of ways. I’m like a small child that didn’t have to go to school and could eat all the candy he wanted. Now I have to go to school, sit still in a chair and listen to somebody who orders me around. I can only eat my candy in breaks or playtime. How do we expect this child to adapt? I think this child would get in fights with his peers and teachers, and will be suspended from school very fast, where he can go back to eating all the Mars ice creams he wants. I’ve enjoyed absolute freedom the last couple of years. I have nobody to answer to. Only thing I have to do is make enough money to cover my big spending habits and save some for the future. Working for somebody and with other people seems to be something I will never be able to adapt to anymore. Of course when I’m flat broke and have no other choice, I will be forced to do something I don’t like or want to. But when I still have a dollar in my pocket, I can still play Heads or tails to build back my roll.

      I live in a digital world. This might sound a bit crazy for people who don’t do this for a living, but 75% of my day is spent behind a computer. I eat breakfast and lunch behind my desk and sometimes even diner. I have an online social life. I have online friends, who I never met in real life, but who I talk with for hours every day. We discuss poker related things but also intimate private things. I would trust those friends with large sums of money without hesitation. Some of them might know me better than real life friends who know me for years. You bond easily when you have the same line of work and they also live in this digital world. I live in a country where I don’t speak the language (yet), and English is hard to get by here. This makes me even more committed to the World Wide Web. How will I ever break free of this and join society again? Is there a red pill I can take to unplug from the matrix?

      The value of money is also a very big issue. I’ve lost the value of money, and don’t know how to get it back. As a poker player you can’t be emotionally attached to money. It is just a number on your screen. This way you will not tilt easily, so it’s very important. If you play mid stakes poker, you will get used to losing and winning big amounts a day. I can lose or win a decent month salary in a couple of minutes. How can I ever get used to earning a year/month salary with a job? I can write countless stories where I wasted big amounts of money on seemingly ridiculous things, but that won’t help me finding back the value of money. You get used to spending big amounts of money very fast, and the people you hang out with have the exact same problem. But we don’t see it as a problem, we think we are cool.
      My girlfriend can stand in a supermarket and think about if she wants to buy a $ 3 or $ 2,20 product. This in my eyes seems ridiculous. In my mind that $ 0,80 difference is not worth the time. But this is a normal sense of the value of money and I want to get that back. I want to start caring again about 80 cents! That is the only way back to normal society.

      I’m pretty sure I can rule out working for a boss in the future. And I’m pretty sure I need to earn around $ 80k a year to cover the lifestyle I’ve grown a custom to (even if I cut back on a lot of things). So what options are left for me? Trading stocks? That seems to have similar downsides to it as poker. I hear a lot of poker players say they want to start something for themselves when they are done with poker. And I think I have to think in those lines too. I still have no passion for anything else than poker, and I will have the next couple of years to find something I am passionate about. All I know now is that I will not play this game for the rest of my life. I will try to play it for 3-5 years more to figure out what I can do with the rest of my life. I know chasing money won’t make me happy, even though I thought it would.

      “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
      Benjamin Franklin


      Poker and a relationship (part 1)

      Let me start off with a short introduction of myself. My name is Morten and I’m 26 years old. I was born and raised in The Netherlands and moved to Italy with my girlfriend in 2012. I’ve been a professional poker player for about 3 years now, but as most players this game has been my obsession since 2005-2006. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how poker affects my relationships with other people, my way of thinking about the future and life. So I decided to start a blog where I can share my thoughts on how poker as a profession effects your whole life.

      Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. I think poker players are from a different galaxy, and we cruised our kickass baller space ship into The Milky Way, and decided Mars looked like a nice sunny place to stay for a while. We seem to blend in just fine with the Mars men, but we’re different. How different are we, and how does this affect our relationship with our significant others? To play this game for a living I’ve developed a specific skillset to cope with the high stress full environment. “Skills” to suppress emotions under stress and to try and rationalize every decision are two important skills to have. I think I’ve had those skills before I got introduced with poker, but this life has definitely made me train those daily. This is not a skillset I have an “on/off” button for. So when I’m having a discussion with my girlfriend, for some reason I try to find a solution to whatever problem she has at that moment. But these women from Venus usually don’t want a solution and I find it extremely difficult to understand her emotions or to talk about mine. I’m used to suppress all emotions while grinding, how do I change that? And how can I expect my girlfriend to understand that? Did you ever find yourself in a spot where your girlfriend is upset, and you’re thinking “what is the best line I should take here?”. I think poker definitely made it more difficult for me to express my emotions towards my girlfriend, and also made it more difficult for me to understand hers or how to deal with hers.

      As a poker player I enjoy absolute freedom. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, wake up when I’ve had more than enough sleep. I don’t need to plan anything in my life. I just need to make sure I get enough hands in every month and that’s basically the only planning I do, and want to do. I’ve always thought I would be the easiest guy to live with. I don’t care when we have dinner, don’t care what’s for dinner, and don’t care if we go out to eat. I’m always up to do something fun, but don’t really mind what we do for fun. I don’t mind to just relax every night either. In reality I’ve learned that apparently this can be very difficult. My girlfriend wants me to make decisions on what time we eat and what we eat. She finds it very annoying that she has to ask me what I want to do every day and that my usual reply is “I don’t care, whatever you like”. So in my mind I’m easy-going, but in reality I’m difficult. Or are we both easy-going, and is that the reason things are difficult? Like a double negative makes a positive?

      To play this game for a living, you have to be a little obsessed with it and highly competitive. I enjoy winning, but seriously hate to lose. And a few big loss sessions can stay stuck in my mind, repeating hands in my mind, going on skype sharing thoughts with other grinders, going into my database to check for a leak. Obviously I understand the variance, but lots of buys ins is often not only bad variance. And that can stay stuck in my mind, like a broken record. This means that when I’m in a downswing I find it difficult to focus on anything other than poker. When I’m not behind my computer and just relaxing with my girlfriend, a part of my mind is still thinking about poker. Which means she does not get the attention she needs and deserves. A downswing can go on for many hands. It can last days and even weeks. How can I expect her to cope with that? A woman has her needs too, and how can I satisfy those needs when my mind is in another place? Obviously a downswing can’t last forever, because eventually you would go broke. But how can I force my mind to stop obsessing about poker, and focus on my girlfriend?

      I always loved the quote from the movie Rounders: “In a poker way of life, women are the rake!”. I’m sure a lot of poker players agree with this. And I’ve always smiled and felt some sort of recognition when I heard this quote. But now I think these women that take care of us “easy-going” grinders, they are the Casino! They make sure we have a comfortable chair, that there is enough food and drinks we need, and they stack our chips very neatly. They make sure everything is set for us to just grind, and if they take some rake for their trouble, that’s just simple economics.

      I guess I have to accept the fact I’m not as easy-going as I’ve always thought I was. This life has it’s downsides too, like any other profession. For next time I will try to think about how poker has changed my future career path/choice forever.

  • 41 replies
    • w34z3l
      Joined: 03.08.2009 Posts: 13,295
      Hey, nice post.

      Not sure how much you care about grammar but "effect" is a noun, "affect" is a verb.
    • Khaliesje
      Joined: 11.08.2012 Posts: 15
      Thank you, if i write a blog the grammar should be correct. I've actually looked that up, and still used it wrong :P
    • Atalol
      Joined: 10.05.2011 Posts: 881
      Hey, nice thoughts I'm gonna subscribe :f_grin:
    • luckyme44
      Joined: 31.07.2012 Posts: 30
      Awesome post sir. I know exactly where you're coming from.. I always think about how the game has changed the way I think of everything else.

      I also love that quote from rounders. SO TRUE.
    • Econom1sta
      Joined: 27.01.2010 Posts: 130
      You said it yourself. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. I think that's a book, right?

      Why would you bother understanding women emotions, after all, they are the ones who are sensitive and emotional. Men are rational. We are supposed to think about our life and well-being, especially career. We need to improve... women don't. Women don't even have to work.

      Did you think if you weren't a successful poker player she'd be with you? All I'm saying is she needs to understand your way of life and follow you. Instead of expressing your emotions verbaly, I'm sure she would much more appreciate if you blast her brains out in bed.

      Also on the side note, you are supposed to be a leader. You shouldn't tell her 'we'll do whatever you like' every day. Make it fun for her, I'm sure you'll get much more in return.

    • DaJoker1988
      Joined: 10.11.2008 Posts: 2,440
      [x] SUBSCRIBED !

      Since i play poker i became much more indifferent to money in real life and thats not good at all!In poker its ok to be like that but in real life its insane ! What can you say about this ?

      LE : unfortunately poker made me indifferent to a lot things in life .
    • Khaliesje
      Joined: 11.08.2012 Posts: 15
      @ dajoker,

      The value of money will definitely be a subject i'll touch in a future blog.
    • jhustincase
      Joined: 27.04.2010 Posts: 319
      you explained everything so well ! Goood JOb and so fecking true ! subscribed !
    • NightFrostaSS
      Joined: 25.10.2008 Posts: 5,255
      I can relate to your post to some extent. Especially about the not caring part, and seems like with years it's getting worse. Not sure if it's poker or just my personality and the freedom from poker just reveals that.
    • wasy8
      Joined: 29.01.2009 Posts: 1,507
      Looking forward to reading, because I've been playing professionally for roughly the same amount of time. It'll be interesting to see how much I can relate to here.

      I haven't been in a long-term relationship since turning pro though, so I can't relate to a lot of this post - but I definitely did relate to the making RL decisions part, and 'taking the best line' for any given situation outside of poker.
    • b0gd4n3l
      Joined: 02.07.2011 Posts: 211
      That's an amazing post and I'm pretty sure that A LOT of the players feel the same way. It's like you become emotionless and always trying to do what's +EV. I thought it's just the way that I am but this seems to happen to other players too, we should think our way out of this emotionless circle and start caring more about our close ones! Great thread, subbed !
    • maythany
      Joined: 18.10.2011 Posts: 1,189
      Amazing, can't wait for part 2!
    • Khaliesje
      Joined: 11.08.2012 Posts: 15
      I posted part 2. I think I'm gonna post my blogs in the first post. And leave comments below it. That was people dont have to scroll to the last page to read a new blog
    • w34z3l
      Joined: 03.08.2009 Posts: 13,295
      Originally posted by Khaliesje
      My girlfriend can stand in a supermarket and think about if she wants to buy a $ 3 or $ 2,20 product. This in my eyes seems ridiculous. In my mind that $ 0,80 difference is not worth the time. But this is a normal sense of the value of money and I want to get that back. I want to start caring again about 80 cents! That is the only way back to normal society.
      This affected me the opposite way, I will obsess over 80cents way more than I used to. It's not about the absolute quantity of money, only making +EV decisions. The insignificance of monetary value, for me at least, also extends to very small amounts.

      After all, plugging seemingly small leaks can result in big long-run profits. But I also get why it's the opposite for a lot of people who play professionally.
    • Wriggers
      Joined: 21.07.2009 Posts: 3,250
      I do the exact same thing w34z3l :D When i'm in the supermarket doing the shopping i'm constantly looking at the "Price per 100g" part of the label just so I can do the most +EV shopping possible :D
    • kiromanAAKK
      Joined: 08.10.2009 Posts: 4,022
      Wow, thanks for share all that mate ... I thought I was and exception and that I was spastics, instead you prove that Im just one more piece of the jigsaw

      To stay tuned to your experience and trouble, I have found difficult to change direction in my life and try to walk the standard life's path but Poker has been reveled for me something more than a job, a passion and a big love

      once you try and enjoy it, you cannot take out your system anymore; doesn't matter how much you walk away of for how long, it is only matter of time before you go back to the womb (but that's my personal experience btw)

      Thank you for the lovely and true post, mate
      ... and good luck with your life! :)
    • ListenAces
      Joined: 12.03.2013 Posts: 252
      If you feel that life has become somewhat meaningless due to poker you might want to look other
      places than a poker forum. ;)
      This is a place I've gotten a lot of value from and some self-knowledge to boot. :)

      To me what you are writing is that you have lost touch with the real world in a sense.
      Carl Jung talks a lot about issues like that.
      How many live secluded "abstracted" lives and struggle with engaging the environment in any
      meaningful way.

      Read this if you can bother. :f_cool:
    • Khaliesje
      Joined: 11.08.2012 Posts: 15
      Thank you for the comments.

      About the 80 cents and a plus ev desicion or not. I Usually think my hourly is way to high to bother in those thoughts. Plus i think my brain is kind of lazy off the grind...

      KironmanAAKK i am happy you liked to post

      ListenAces, Thank you for you comment I will definitly read what Carl Jung has to say this week!
    • ListenAces
      Joined: 12.03.2013 Posts: 252
      Your welcome.
      Let me know what you think of him! :)
      And do let me know if you try to figure out your Myers Briggs type.
      (Personality system based on Jung)