As some of you may or may not know, we are down in Vegas right now for the World Series of Poker.
During one of the breaks for the Mixed Limit / No Limit Hold'em event, we happened to bump into a very well-known poker pro who we happen to know personally. We decided to have lunch, and he opened up quite a bit about his day-to-day life and the living the life of a poker professional. After the conversation had ended, we asked if we could recall the conversation as best as we could and publish it in the form of an article, as we found it fascinating. He said no problem, as long as his name was last out. Here you go:
Us: How is the event going for you so far?
Him: Well aside from the ridiculous cards they are using and the fact that they are using the worst dealers known to man, I am doing just fine. I am about to bust out, and I don't really care. I'd rather be on the golf course right now anyways.
Us: You don't care about $5k? You're just a bit below an average stack, surely you could grind it up from here?
Him: Well I only have 30% of myself in this tournament, so I'm not really caring about it that much.
Us: Only 30%?
Him: Yeah. I have a busted bankroll right now until I sell my house, so I am being staked by my backer in this tournament. As a matter of fact, I am being staked in every tournament I play at the World Series of Poker. We signed an agreement stating that even if I had a big score, I would continue to play out the '07 WSOP under the staking agreement.
Us: You're selling your house?
Him: Yeah. I figure that I can sell it and keep about $300k after expenses. When I won last year, one of the first things that I did was buy that house. I'm going to get an apartment close by.
Us: How many guys do you figure are being staked?
Him: Man, honestly I would say 50-60% at least! I am talking about the well-known players that you see on TV. All of the online pros are dripping with money, and then you got your rich casual players taking a shot, and then your legitimate rich live poker pros like Ivey and Greenstein. But most of the well-known live poker pros are being staked.
Us: Really? 50-60%?
Him: Yeah. You would be amazed at how many "pros" are dead broke and existing on stakes and borrowing.
Us: Wow. Well how is your wife?
Him: She left me three months ago. Took our kids and moved back in with her parents. I don't blame her, and I didn't stop her. I sure miss the kids though. The life was just too much for her. Too many ups and downs. After my big win last year, we both thought that we had it made. Well, one year later, and of course I'm playing over my head and lose most of that in cash games and playing craps and baccarat. Also, I only had 50% of myself for my win last year, so after the tax man got his cut, I didn't win nearly as much as people would think. Besides, I would be out playing 12 hours sessions throughout the middle of the night; not exactly great husband material. I missed all of my kids' events, cause I would be sleeping during the day.
Us: Wow, sorry to hear that.
Him: It's ok man. This is the life that I've chosen. The young online poker studs have it made, cause usually they are unattached. Poker pros with families are usually not in the best of relationships. There's a reason why most of these players out here are divorced or on their third marriage.
Us: That's crazy. You ever think of doing anything different?
Him: What I am going to do? I'm in my mid 30's now, I dropped out of college to become a professional poker player, and I have a 12 year gap on my resume. Not exactly hireable.
Us: Do you play much online? You could probably do really well playing 10/20 No Limit and the occasional tournament.
Him: I do play online. Unfortunately, I always tilt and lose my online bankroll. The players online at those levels are MUCH better than live players at that live. It's not even close. There is a reason that Matusow threw his laptop into his pool; it's much harder to get reads online, and the players are very good. You been watching the live tournament scene lately? Online players are winning every frickin' live tournament.
Us: I think they are calling you back now.
Him: Ok, I gotta go.
Us: Good luck.
Note: He busted out two hands later, pushing all-in with a gut shot straight draw against someone holding top set.
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