Monday, May 10, 2010

Poker Future?

I've been thinking vaguely about quitting my job or taking on further-reduced hours, which would force me to forfeit my insurance benefits. The main argument for reducing my hours is that it would give me more time to help out with the baby, which would allow Brigid to put some more time into her studies. If I were to do that, I might be better off just quitting my job altogether, because I would lose my benefits anyway, and the Bike's $500NL game has gotten much tougher in the past few weeks. This is likely a temporary situation, but it got me thinking about whether I could stand to move up in stakes. There is a regular $60-120 limit game at Commerce and occasional $100-200 games. If I use careful game selection, only playing when I know the game is juicy, I think I could probably crush these games. On the other hand, I would have to be willing to absorb some nasty swings. My guess is that, in the end, my win rate would be barely better than what I'm making now, taking my salary into account. My volatility would probably be nearly three times higher per hour. Adding to "volatility" is the fact that I really don't know what I would be getting into, so my expected win rate could be pretty much anything, potentially even negative (I think I would realize this and give up after a day or two). So, financially, I'm inclined to say it probably would not be worth it in the short term.

Of course, there are many other considerations beyond my short term financial well-being. For one thing, I think playing different and bigger games has the potential to make me a much better player, possibly increasing my long-term prospects. This argument is tempered by the fact that I think my current position playing $500NL is also very challenging and giving me some valuable experience. Another question that I think deserves consideration is: which would be more enjoyable? Well, it would certainly be nice to have my freedom back. My job is not particularly oppressive, but I do have a boss and hours and responsibilities. On the other hand, table selection is one of the least exhilarating aspects of being a poker player, and, for better or for worse, having a job largely removes this aspect. If I quit and try to prey on weak $100-$200 games, table selection will become my main occupation. I will probably want to give my phone number to some regulars or a floorman and try to persuade them to call me when the game is particularly good. I think there is something especially unsavory about being so explicit about preying on specific players. I'm reconciled to the fact that I don't add much to society when I play poker for a living, but I'm still not particularly proud of it. Playing high stakes would certainly be a bit more exciting, at least for a little while, but it would also be accordingly stressful. I find it a bit hard, psychologically, to shake off $3k losses, and these would be commonplace in a game as big as $100-200. Finally, I just don't like being at Commerce that much. The quieter atmosphere at the Bike is much preferable to me.

At this point, I think I'd prefer to keep my job even if I reduce my hours and lose my benefits. In year or so, I'll have a bigger decision to make as far as my career goes; Brigid will be finishing her PhD, and we might be moving out of L.A.

1 comment:

Craig Berger said...

I also like the Bike much better than Commerce. I don't know why. Somehow I feel like Commerce is more for tourists and celebrities than people who really love poker.