Thursday, April 28, 2005

[Note: This was originally posted at Iggy's blog before I semi-resurrected my own. You can find the original post here. (I could swear I've seen that weird building he appends to my entry. Downtown Toronto, I think.)

Broke, and Broken In

Iggy tells me people have asked about me lately. Great: I'm 34 years old and I'm a "whatever happened to ..." guy.

I'm not sure whether my site is even up at the moment; my drained checking account has made it impossible for me to actually pay my internet host. In any case, I haven't blogged in several months; the reason I usually give is that I don't have anything to say. That's only partly true; my last post was about the possibility of taking my last few bucks and moving to Vegas.

I talked myself out of that, or let others talk me out of it, but I'm not sure I shouldn't have gone. It would have been a desperation play but I was—and am—desperate.

I dithered for a long time about getting a job. As I saw it, and still see it, a job can do nothing but make me more miserable, so why do it?

Some people have picked up the threads of suicidal thought in the last couple of posts I made, whenever that was. That was real. Even though suicide is not truly something I want to do, I've felt like I haven't had a choice. A job makes me miserable. Being dead means I'm not miserable anymore.

Nonetheless, I find myself about to be hired by the National Federation of Independent Business, to sell memberships to small businessmen. The guaranteed money isn't great but the potential exists to about double the guarantee, which would make a decent living. Nonetheless, I can only see this as a way to get to where I really want to be, which is in Vegas playing a lot of poker.

My dad asked me last weekend, if I could have any job (within reason), what would it be. My answer was "nothing," by which I meant that there is no job I think I would enjoy long-term. But I just realized that that's not true. In my win-the-lottery fantasies, I live in a Vegas high-rise condo, a lot like the condo on "Frasier," and I play a lot of poker. So I change my answer: If I could have any job (within reason), it would be that of a professional poker player.

It might be a bit skewed, but in poker I primarily compete against myself: I look to play each hand the best it can be played. I don't always succeed, though, and to me these are the leaks in my game. I think if I were a decent golfer or pool player I would look at my game the same way. The challenge is to come as close as possible to playing perfectly.

The positive benefits of being a pro player are many, and I don't need to go into them all here, but the biggest positive for me is that I get to play on my own schedule. There's a game at 2AM just as there is at 2PM. Since the natural length of my day is 25-26 hours, that's important to me, and it's a big part of my failure to adapt to work life in the past. Another major benefit for me is the lack of a boss. In other jobs, if I fucked up and cost the company $100, I heard about it forever. In poker, if I fuck up and cost myself $100, then as long as I can figure out what went wrong, it can actually be a good thing.

So, what have I been doing for the last few months? I'm totally out of action now, but I have been staked several times by Gil (a buddy I've mentioned a number of times on my site). He's probably negative in doing this, but that may be mostly because he keeps buying us into these very –EV charity tournaments that I'll mention in a bit. In casino trips, because of one good weekend, he might be positive. Overall, though, I believe I'm well negative for 2005, despite a lack of records. I think this is primarily due to an effective stop-loss set by Gil; he doesn't want to reach into his pocket to buy me back into the game, for understandable reasons. And, actually, our practice of sitting different tables when we play causes another problem: Whoever is on the good table has his night cut short by whoever is on the bad table going broke early.

Low-buyin no-limit has finally come to the midwest; four of the five closest cardrooms have begun dealing $100 or $200 max-buyin no-limit. Unfortunately, the holdout is the closest of the casinos, and since they're very poorly run, they'll probably never get no-limit. This has become our game of choice; in Gil's words no-limit is "way too much fun." Oddly, one of my best performances in this game was in one of the worst games, after the tournament in Manistee. There were a lot of good players in that game, including one fellow I suspect is a pro. (The suspected pro figures in the story from last year where Gil was drawing to a two-outer against my total bluff—and got there.) Somehow I pulled nearly $400 out of that game, which wasn't bad even after I paid Gil his cut.

Another thing we've been doing a good bit is playing charity tournaments around town. The biggest problem with these is that less than half, and sometimes only a third, of the money they take in, is paid out; Michigan caps winnings at a "Vegas night", which is what these are under our law, at $500, so the payouts typically start there and go down, with around 10% of places being paid. The competition is always very soft, even though there are a lot of regulars at the tournaments, but I don't think it's soft enough for what's effectively 100–200% juice on the tournaments.

However, one of the organizers of these has been dealing $1/$2 no-limit side games after the tournaments, and they rake those pots normally. Since the competition is just as weak in those games, a strategy might be to show up specifically for the side games. I suspect the organizers work several nights a week for different charities; these might become a very lucrative few hours' work from time to time.

My current long-term—well, medium-term anyway—goals are to take the money I get from this new job, assuming I am in fact hired, and build a bankroll back up. I don't really want to move west until I'm regularly beating PartyPoker's $15/$30 game, which implies the bankroll to do it, which implies that it will be at least six months before I can move west, and likely longer than that. From here and now, I would expect that I'd want to transfer to Vegas with the NFIB, although who knows what I'll decide when that time comes. (If I were the NFIB I wouldn't let me move, since it would probably be apparent that I'd quit shortly thereafter.)

In any case, the answer to "whatever happened to ..." is that I'm not dead. I'm just not playing poker. Or is that the same thing?

[Note: The NFIB thing fell through. My guess is that I was a little too candid in my interview, although I did stress repeatedly that my goal in the job was income stability—meaning I wouldn't quit after a month to go pro again. In any case the grapevine got back to me that they thought I wouldn't actually get up every day and do the job. Which, truth be told, would have been a struggle.]