BLOG – Coming out of the online poker closet

BLOG – Coming out of the online poker closet

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

“So, what do you do for a living?”
“What line of work did you say you were in?”
“Oh, where do you work?”

Hardly uncommon questions in that horrible and excruciating pit that people have dubbed ‘small talk’ but, even though poker is on television and recognised as a legitimate profession by many, one may still have difficulties answering them if one’s profession consists of feltin’ fish and stackin’ donks across twelve tables on dual monitors for thirty hours a week.

While it is, at least in my experience, generally accepted that poker is a game of skill and that long-term earnings are indeed possible; online poker is still thought of as something of a taboo.

Why? Because it’s new and scary; new and scary things are terrifying for those who don’t adapt – people are still paranoid of the Internet, especially the people who you have to be concerned about when telling your profession (family members and girls in bars). Remember, these are the people who don’t like giving their debit card details to so how will they feel about you making regular deposits and withdrawals to PKR and Full Tilt?

We know online poker is secure (well, as secure as anything that involves monetary transfers can be) and that playing online is really not that much different to playing live in terms of poker fundamentals... but we’re clever clogseses, aren’t we?

What you will find when you unveil your profession to the world is... well, I’m loathe to say ignorance because in the same way that I’m not ignorant in that I don’t know who won the Premier League last year or who is the current England captain; they are not ignorant if they don’t know that a flush beats a straight or that raising from three times the big blind to five is not acceptable. What you will find when you unveil your profession to the world is... hilarity. Long, repetitive and boring hilarity.

Let’s go back to the questions above, to which you answer “I’m a professional poker player” or “I play poker online”. You’ve opened up a can of worms, nay; a bathtub of anacondas. This leads on to a whole new world of questions that they would never ask if you said you were a doctor, a builder or an Internet equity analyst. If you play online poker for a living, you actually are that last one – feel free to use it in order to escape the disapproving glares of a conservative grandmother at the next family BBQ.

Why the different line of questioning? In most peoples’ minds, playing poker is not work. They see poker as a hobby or recreational activity, because that is what it is in their lives. They don’t know that you’ve played fifty hour weeks for years, endured horrific downswings that made you doubt yourself every minute of every day, put in countless hours and days and weeks of study and hand analysis to get to where you are now. Poker is easy – it’s just playing cards. This is why the conversations you have about your job with non-poker playing folks and fellas tend to make them come across to you as morons. They just have a completely (missed the) point of view.

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