Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A date which shall live on in glorious memory ...

I had an epiphany when the alarm rang a couple of minutes to 6 this morning so that I could go work a stellar day at Lowes.

I've mentioned before that I don't like my job. And I've mentioned that I've considered chucking it all and moving to Vegas (see, for example, last night's post). I figured I'd need about $10,000 to take my shot.

It occurred to me this morning, when I was trying to come up with some reason, any reason, why I didn't have to go to work and I could sleep some more, that there's an alternative.

For a number of reasons, my "nut," my monthly expenses, are quite low. I have rent, a car payment, and a couple of miscellaneous bills that all together add up to between $800 and $900 a month. That doesn't include food or root beer. Pick a number, but a net income of $2000 a month would cover my expenses and then some.

If you assume I play poker five days a week, four weeks a month, then that divides out to $100 a day.

The legions of PartyPoker fans in the blogosphere prove that's eminently doable.

Warning: Math ahead

$100 is 50BB at $1/$2, 25BB at $2/$4, 17BB at $3/$6, 10BB at $5/$10 (which I haven't sat in a good long while).

I have more tournament hands than ring-game hands in PokerTracker at the moment, and I've only got about 8000 hands total in the software. Of course, my tournament play shows a BB/Hr of barely over zero, because a tournament necessarily involves busting out, unless one finishes first. The "barely over" probably is due to tournament hands that didn't get loaded, or single-table tournaments that I've won, either of which would account for a small fraction of the 4500 tournament hands in the software.

My ring-game performance, while fewer hands (2600, apparently), shows what I hope is a more realistic figure. In those 2600 hands, I averaged 4.66 big bets per hour.

I have to weight this a bit. At $.50/$1 stakes (600 hands), I averaged 6.10BB/H; at $1/$2 (800 hands), 2.68BB/H; at $2/$4 (160 hands), 5.95BB/H; and at $3/$6 (800 hands), 2.93BB/H.

I understand that these data don't form a proper-sized statistical universe, but if one takes the 3BB/H figure from my $3/$6 play, takes that as the "normal" number, and subtracts, say, 30% to account for the possibility that I might have been overachieving, we're left with a figure of two big bets per hour.

So to earn $100, or a day's pay, I'd need to spend 25 hours a day at $1/$2; 12 at $2/$4, 8 at $3/$6, or 5 at $5/$10. This is assuming that I play a single table at a time. It's also assuming my real BB/H is a lot lower than I experienced over the last 2600 hands.

Again, this is doable. Especially with multiple tables open. And it's perhaps boring, but it's a lot less of a pain in the ass than Lowes.

Ch-ch-changes ...

Doing this would change how I view my time on PartyPoker, and indeed how I spend my time on PartyPoker.

Until now, over the last eight or nine months that I've been on PartyPoker, I've viewed my bankroll as "keeping score" rather than as actual cash. The abstraction of a virtual bankroll helps a lot with this. For most of this time, I viewed my losses as "tuition," learning to get better at the game. (Truly, if it weren't for all of the multi-table tournaments I played in where I was dead money, I wouldn't have suffered those losses.) And so, while a good day was good, a bad day wasn't necessarily bad.

Making my living off that bankroll would change that. It would mean that the bankroll becomes specifically one for grinding, and not one for flashy multi-table tournament entries. It means not worrying about "getting on the boat," the tournament I was so concerned about getting into just last night.

While I don't have the bankroll to go to Vegas, I do have the bankroll to support an attempt to live off PartyPoker. That $5000 in wins from last week is still out there. I have another paycheck coming from Lowes this week. And the Departments of Evil for both Michigan and the US will owe me a nice chunk, too. Even if I make zero dollars in this attempt, I can live off that for a good bit.

I don't actually consider the possibility that I might go seriously negative. If my play becomes subpar, this plan has plenty of days built in to take a break from the game and, I don't know, take up alcoholism (I hear good things). So, at worst, I spend a few months playing poker and then I need to find another job.


Did you ever notice that when you seek advice from several sources, you hear the advice you want to hear? I sought out advice from several coworkers in verious stages of disgruntlement. A couple of them said what I wanted to hear: "Sheeit, if I was your age and didn't have a family to support, I'd be all over an opportunity like that. Good luck, man." (Obligatory "Rounders" quote about luck here.) The most disgruntled of them pointed out that if Lowes is making me miserable, and I have an opportunity like this (the money might not be there forever), how could it be worse? And how could wherever I land should I fail be worse?

The more practical advice I got was from the fellow there who is the most avid poker player at the place other than myself. He pointed out that there are about ten million kids in this country who dream of nothing more than playing basketball for a living, but very, very few ever become good enough to do it. And you know what, he's right.

But poker has a different gradient than basketball. In basketball, you have a very large number of players who make absolutely nothing, a few players eking out a living in a minor league, and a few players making lots and lots of money. Well, actually, maybe the analogy works better than I thought, because the grinders are that "minor league" next to the Lederers and Negreanus. But all I'm trying to achieve here, is the minor leagues.

Fear in the Air, Tension Everywhere ...

Rap on, brother.

Although I didn't talk to management about it, I'm not really expected in at work tomorrow, because I talked to just about everyone else. But to sever my connection with a pretty good source of income, even a detestable one, is downright frightening.

The other time I made an experiment with self-employment, I was forced into it. I had planned on doing some commission-based fundraising for a project of the Libertarian Party of Michigan on a part-time basis, with the potential to turn it into a full-time gig if it worked out well. But then my full-time job disappeared out from under me (I was fired, truth be told, but I've never really understood why, in that case). Slightly less scary than to strike out and do something totally new.

There are (or would be) a couple of things I'd be doing wrong, here. Primary is that I really don't have enough experience to jump into doing this full-time. I play a damn lot of poker ... but I'm probably just a gifted amateur. Above average -- I'm beating the rake -- but I'm not Sklansky, I'm not Abdul or Izmet, I'm just a guy who has learned a bit by reading and a lot by trial and error how to beat the average low-limit game most of the time. Dammit, I don't feel smart enough to be a poker pro.

Another more subtle thing I'm doing wrong is that I haven't set "exit conditions," or the point where I decide this isn't working and go look for a regular job. But that can come later. Related to this is that my bankroll and my regular-roll are still intermingled. I hope to change this by keeping my entire poker bankroll on PartyPoker; there's about $1000 there now so it's a good start.

I can't bring this to a conclusion. Right now, I think I go into work tomorrow, talk to management and essentially quit (probably providing a copy of last month's manifesto), and take the cute vendor chick who should be there out for lunch. But "The Fear Factor" is strong; I might just show up at work tomorrow like nothing happened.