December 27, 2004

What I Learned: 2004 in Review.

#2: Gambling for a Living is Harder than It Looks or (as Hunter S. Thompson once wrote) Old Whores Don't Giggle.

That period of unemployment lasted a bit longer than I had planned, so to avoid any sort of honest employment I found myself playing poker four or five times a week for a couple of months. On one level it worked, as I focused on my play (my line was that being laid off really tightened up my game) and had a financially successful time of it, winning enough to take care of my basic expenses for the period.

On the other hand, obviously my actions had removed playing poker from the entertainment category and put it into the work category, with the result being that at times it was as unpleasant as any job. Playing tight can actually be pretty boring, and I found myself doing strange things to mix it up a little, like checking the bottom right corner of the card first (checking for the telltale border of a face card, or the blankness that meant either an ace or a 2/3) or checking flops without my glasses.

Also, I was spending way too much time sitting around a small table with a group of people who under normal circumstances I wouldn't want to share the same subway car with, listening to (and saying) the same dumb things and watching nothing but sports on TV. The hours can be pretty unconducive to being a part of normal society, and I was getting home at five in the morning, not waking up until past noon, cutting down on daytime job-seeking as well. I was offered and considered a job dealing at the club, which seems to pay pretty well, but I figured having to be there until 7 in the morning would completely cut me off from the rest of the world.

And I can't overlook the fact that my success was probably as much luck as anything else, and that I was only a couple of bad sessions away from wiping out everything I had made. Meaning that I would have spent all of those hours at the table for nothing, or quite possibly several hundred dollars less than nothing. So I think I'll stick with this work--a-day 9-to-5 life for the time being.
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