Every year seems to go faster and faster as you get older. I can remember January, May and the summer as if they were yesterday but here we are, on the verge of entering 2014 and, naturally, it’s a time for reflection and excitement at what the future will bring.
If I look back to where I was one year ago it’s a huge change from my life now. In December 2012 I was just an online poker pro and at the start of what would go on to be a crippling – financially and emotionally – six-month downswing. It probably cost me $20,000 or so but, more than that, is the stress of supporting yourself when poker is your only source of income. The rent, craft beer and ribeye steak payments never stop after all…
Despite all of this, everything was good. I was still having a great time and was confident that poker would turn around or something else would come up. Fast forward to now and I’m coming off the best year of my life. I got married to my amazing wife Hattie in May, had a fantastic honeymoon in the Turks & Caicos and New York City and have been to both my brother and Mum’s weddings in 2013.
Professionally, it’s been a huge change too – but for the better. In April I got the job as editor of PokerPlayer magazine and website, my first foray into ‘real’ work for around three years. It’s been a great experience thus far, very challenging and rewarding equally. Just like in poker, it’s very important to have balance in life – too much of one thing can rarely be good.
Before, I was playing 70,000 poker hands per month, a hell of a lot. It was great fun, and usually decently profitable, but poker can be a scary no man’s land if you don’t have an eye on the future. You may be able to beat the games now but who knows if that will be the case in two or ten year’s time? Who knows what the online poker climate will be like then? It’s always changing and, while poker can be a very lucrative short-term job, there was always a niggling worry that I didn’t want to do this professionally for the rest of my life and that, quite frankly, I wasn’t good enough to either. Not to mention that as you get older – I’m nearly 29 – other factors come into consideration too. Would I really be able to stay positive in the middle of a downswing if I had to earn money for our future children? How on earth would I ever get a mortgage with ‘professional poker player’ as my listed occupation? These are all unsaid concerns that I fear too many ‘pro’ (and I use the term loosely sometimes) players just put to the back of their minds. Unless you’re phenomenally successful, and these players are actually quite rare if you scratch beneath the surface, it’s essential to have a Plan B just in case you can’t beat the games anymore or, more likely, you just don’t want to.
I feel much more balanced now. My work consists of PokerPlayer in the daytimes and poker 4-5 times a week in the evenings, meaning I can still hit around 25,000 hands per month. Having other sources of income definitely takes the pressure off too, and that’s improved my game significantly in the past six months. After a dire 2013 poker-wise I’ve been on a good run and should be able to post a small profit for the end of the year. It’s nothing spectacular but it’s definitely something to build on for 2014.
He’s on the telly box!
I’ve also been lucky enough this year to start working with Sky Poker for their dedicated TV channel (number 861 on Sky TV) as an analyst, alongside fellow PokerPlayer.co.uk blogger Ryan Spittles and a very talented team of presenters such as Richard Orford, Anna Fowler, Sarah Champion and James Hartigan. I definitely never envisioned TV work in my future this time last year and, again, it’s just been another cool experience and something that keeps me constantly challenged. I’m not just saying this because I work for them either, but Sky Poker are a really good UK-based company and there are some excellent poker games on there too, especially when they run big tournament festivals such as the recent UKOPS. Any serious European grinder should definitely check them out in the next year.
Within the space of a year I’ve gone from having one job to three or four different endeavours. Sometimes it’s stressful and it’s always hard work, but the rewards are great too and I definitely feel more well-rounded at this period of my life than ever before.
If you’re leaving 2013 with some trepidation about what the future may bring it’s important to remember that, so long as you are open to change and work hard, everything can be completely different in a short period of time. Whatever you do, in poker or in life, do it to ensure that 2014 is the best year yet.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Also on my mind…
- UFC 168 was AMAZING! Ronda Rousey is an absolute phenom and I can’t see anyone that would beat her at this stage apart from, maybe, the roided-up drug cheat ‘Cyborg’. And, as much as Miesha Tate put on an amazing performance and deserved the hand shake at the end, it was pretty cool to see Ronda turn full-fledged heel too. There will be big money in her future for the UFC.
- Christmas was good! The usual over-eating and over-drinking extravaganza. A highlight was playing online poker on my phone beneath the dinner table at about 7PM on Christmas Day. People aren’t lying when they say the games are good this time of year. I won $1k inside 30mins and then, unfortunately, was distracted by the sight of cake and promptly gifted $600 of that back before logging off to resume being sociable again.
- Beer of the fortnight: Wild River, Fuller’s Brewery (special points for the brewery being about 400m from my flat too.)
Photo courtesy of www.hdwallpapersinn.com.