Is poker your job?

Posted by in Poker

And by that I mean, are you spending 20+ hours on it a week? I am. I wasn’t aware of this, at least not on a conscious level, until last week when I had to complete a time management assignment for one of my classes.

Yep, Thursday night about 11pm I’m sitting here in front of the computer finishing up a post when I get an IM from John. We start talking and while doing so he finds a $2/$4 NL game with lots of fishes. He asks me to hang on the rail while I’m finishing up my stuff, and about 30 minutes later, it dawns on me…I have an assignment due tomorrow. On time managment. The irony is not lost on me.

So I start my homework. With UB in mini-view at the top of my screen and Yahoo chat on the right, of course. (What?? I can be efficient and effective!! OK, maybe not so efficient…) I hit a wall though when I reach the part where I needed the record of how I had spent every minute of my past week, documented in 15-minute intervals. SO. I can work backwards, right? Right. Except at 3am – brain doesn’t really work then. Better to call it a night then, and tackle this little project in the morning.

Of course I meant to wake up early and start it but didn’t…but let’s skip that part, shall we?

Part of this little project was to predict how much time you spent on certain activites and then, of course, to spend a week tracking your actual time and then comparing the two afterwards. Or in my case, doing your best to recollect your activites for the past week…

It’s fairly easy to go back for a week and figure out when I slept and went to class. It’s a little harder to recall the details of exactly when I ate and studied and such. (Oh wait – I don’t do much of either really). I had “guessed” that I spent about 10 hours playing poker a week and another 10 hours on e-mail/internet time, but I knew that was low-balling it. I figured I might be safe though, since some of that is done at the same time, (meaning I didn’t have to count my chatting separate like some people did) and really…was I that bad?

Um…yea. Not even for the time spent, but also for when I was spending it. I really didn’t think there was that much play overall, but as I was filling out my little chart, I kept remembering little bits and pieces here and there…Friday night conversations where I mentioned that I really should have been reading for a test Monday, but that it was late and I was tired, so really if I did read, I wouldn’t retain the information anyway…so hey, why not play poker instead? (Well for starters…if you’re too tired to study well, you’re too tired to play well). Then of course there was that Sunday morning game with G-Rob…forgot about that. It all added up to about 24 hours. And that didn’t include the time reading blogs and blogging itself…that was another 14 or so hours I think.

My first thought was – wow. That is really freakin sad there hon. But then I thought – no it isn’t. You see, one of the other things we had to do in this class is come up with our goals, and our plans for reaching them. And along with all my academic and personal ones, there were, of course, poker ones. And to acheive those, time has to be put into the game – playing and reading, analyzing, etc. The goals are valid – to be the best player I can, to move up in limits, to win tournaments, etc. But you can only justify spending so much time on achieving them if they are real goals. That is, they have to really matter to you. I think if you asked anyone playing poker these days on a semi-serious basis they would list any one of those as a goal of theirs, and they probably put in a great many hours playing and reading about the game. But then think also about the many people who put in just as many hours at the tables, if not more, without any goal in sight. I think we like these people. They make us money.

If you’re here reading, it’s likely because you consider yourself serious about your game – reading everything you can that is even remotely poker related (or you’re a friend of mine who has little to no clue about the game but reads anyway – hi guys! *waves*). You most likely have goals of your own, and you’re taking part in the process of meeting those goals. The challenge comes, at least for me, in maintaining my level of will to meet those goals. It varies from day to day sometimes…and when that happens – the bankroll shows it. And it’s not surprising – on those days, I’m not “feeling” the game…I’m playing because, well…I feel like I should be – it’s what I do. I want to get better right? But if I’m not playing with my goals in mind, then I’m the same as all the other dead money that sits down. I’m just playing to play. And if I’m going to do that, well…there’s got to be a table going at Party where I can at least donate my money to friends.

I admit I felt a little sheepish writing all this up for my assignment. That yes, I did play 24 hours of poker last week, and no, quite frankly I didn’t see that as a problem. Because I have goals to meet, and that was all part of the process of meeting them. However I was aware that I was directing this to an educator at a major university…so I am a little curious to see what sort of comments I’m going to get back on my assignment. The other challenge for me of course is to find balance between my academic goals and my poker goals – obviously there has to be a hierarchy there. For you it might be a balance between family goals or your regular work goals, etc.

In a lot of ways, poker replaced working for me – but that’s part of the “why I play poker”; a topic for another post, one that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while, inspired by this. So really, spending working hours on it doesn’t seem too bad – now I just need to start making money at it too.