Thursday, April 24, 2008

Playing professional poker

I'm kind of running out of things to say about Vegas, but being I made a commitment to myself to blog for a full week on my recent travel, here it goes.

As I wrote about yesterday, I met up with a good buddy of mine last week. He originally went to Vegas to play professional poker. That is, he planned on playing cards for a living. Apparently there are a number of people like him who move to Vegas and try to make it on ESPN.

He's a pretty candid guy and I trust him. So when he told me it is possible to play cards to make a living, I asked for more information instead of assuming he's bull shitting me at which point I'd just stop listening. That's what I do when I start thinking someone is filling me full of b.s.

Anyway, from what he said he would work around 60 to 70 hours a week playing at either the Bellagio or Wynn. Being the margins in poker are small (or can be small), he had to play some big dollar "limit" games to make a profit. He treated it just like a job where he'd get up at 8AM and drive into work. His monthly take home was around $5,000 meaning he was making about $60,000 a year. Breaking this down per-hour, he was making around $20 an hour.

I asked him why he quit and basically it was because working 60 - 70 hours (sometimes more) wasn't conducive to starting a family. He also needed benefits which obviously were omitted by his employer (i.e. himself).

My takeaway was, yes you can make money playing poker. But playing poker is just like any other job. You have to put in your time and you may find that you have other skills (e.g. software engineer, plumber, sales) that compensate you more for you time and risk.

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