Is there ever a good time to quit poker? We say no but some people disagree

The pursuit of money at every expense is no life and why many of the online stars are talking of quitting

Money doesn’t buy you happiness, or so they say – ‘they’ presumably being determinedly optimistic poor people. Because we all know that’s not true. Money certainly does buy you happiness, it just doesn’t last for very long. And this seems to be something a lot of the really succesful online players have been finding out.

David ‘Raptor’ Benefield and Tom Dwan are two 22-year-old millionaires we have featured in InsidePoker over the last year. Both of them are financially set for life, but clearly looking for a day when they can leave online poker behind.

‘Five years from now, if I am still playing poker full-time I will be very unhappy,’ says Benefield. ‘It isn’t a very fulfilling occupation. You get very little out of it apart from money.’ And Tom Dwan said something similar to me last year.


Online star Ariel ‘FoxwoodsFiend’ Schneller announced in April this year that he was quitting poker. ‘I’ve got more money than any kid should at my age, I have the financial flexibility to pay for law school, buy a car, invest for my future, and still live very well. What else do I really need to get out of poker? I’m quitting!’ he said in a blog.

Interestingly, Schneller has since backtracked on his statement, and is taking another year to play poker and avoid the rat race. And nobody really believes any of these guys is going to give up playing poker altogether. They will always love the thrill, buzz and intellectual challenge of the game, but it won’t be the only significant thing in their lives.


Poker can be a great way to make money, and for most people it’s also a fantastic way to have fun with mates and meet new people. But there is a danger when you let the game take over your life. Especially when you haven’t figured out what that life is going to be yet.

Live poker is a different world, full of strange, dysfunctional but very real relationships. The social interaction and camaraderie is what breaks, and sometimes saves, many players who take up this amazing, frustrating game for a living. But with online poker there are days when it is just you, a laptop and MSN for company. It’s all about making money, and very little else. And ultimately the endless pursuit of money for money’s sake is not that satisfying. It’s no life. The love of money is the root of all evil, or so the Bible tells us.

We have traditionally lagged behind the US in the poker boom by a good two or three years, but now it is really taking off over here. There are a lot of young, talented cash-game players and we are now starting to see a lot of university students, and even sixth formers, facing a choice between playing poker full-time or carrying on with their education. Get a degree and a job in the real world, or live the poker life and make your millions? It’s an easy choice, right?


So what’s the right way to go when thinking about what to do with your life? Well, let’s weigh up the options. On the one hand you could do something you love and potentially making more money than you need by playing poker. On the other hand you could get some real-world skills, some life-changing experiences and be able to choose what you want out of life.

There is nothing to stop you playing poker in your spare time and living like a god among men at university. If it was me, I’d choose education. Poker will still be here afterwards. And if it’s not, you would have been just as fucked with even less options.

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