This post by RiKD got me thinking about a few things, I was going to write a reply in the thread it's from but thought it's a worthy discussion in its own right and deserves its own post.
On September 15 2012 10:33 RiKD wrote:
One thing to consider is poker can be pretty damaging to other facets of life and development.
Getting to the point:
[other text that was getting to the point in the thread but not the point here]
I'd love to hear some more thoughts from RiKD, and anyone else who wants to join the discussion, on how poker can be damaging to other facets of life and development. It would be good to get the perspectives of current other professional poker players, but actually especially valuable to get the perspective of guys like RiKD who have seen both sides of the fence. Guys who used to live the poker grinding freedom lifestyle and are now following different, more traditional paths, and so have seen both sides of the fence.
I have my own thoughts which I'll outline below, but do add to the discussion and let me know if you see it the same way, or where your perspectives vary, and especially new ideas I haven't been able to consider as someone who's only seen this side of the fence.
When you get strongly interested in poker (a period that i think pretty much all players that manage to become successful experience at some point) and the whole process of playing and learning and improving, you find you become addicted to this creative process and want to invest 100% of your limited mental energy+focus every day on the process. Personal growth generally happens as a result of mental energy/focus being invested in something challenging, and to limit the avenues you invest your mental energy in is to limit the avenues in which you'll grow. By investing only in poker you'll only grow in the areas of risk management, rational decision making, mental discipline and being able to play card games well (obviously). Breadth of experience will be sacrificed for great depth in one limited area, which can have all sorts of suboptimal consequences on personal development and therefore ultimately, happiness and quality of life (anyone disagree with this leap of logic?).
In my experience both personally and from talking to several other poker playing friends, a very common facet of life that poker brings negative consequences to is social development. As poker is inherently a very isolated profession, much more effort needs to be made to rectify the default situation than for someone in a traditional job who spends large parts of his work life interacting with colleagues, and social groups are easily and conveniently formed from the workplace. Generally, overcoming any kind of life-inertia like this takes some conceited effort and will, and so not everyone will do it. The problem can be especially compounded by the possibility that if the dedicated poker player is investing 100% of his mental energy into getting better at poker and/or trying to make more money, and some mental energy is required to overcome inertia, it's unlikely to happen if there isn't any left. Your most likely social group (the one for which the least amount of energy invested in overcoming inertia is required) as a poker player is other poker players, and so your perspectives and circle all become limited, which limits your potential avenues for growth, development and discovery (going back to the idea of breadth of experience being a positive).
I believe that while professional poker does present these challenges and can bring these pitfalls, it's up to the individual player to overcome the inertia of the default situation playing poker for a living puts you in with an investment of energy and will. This is quite a difficult thing to do generally, and that's why you see a lot of unhappy professional poker players and a lot of obese people to name another example. Since this is just some stream of consciousness thoughts to open discussion, I won't bother to write any sort of tidy conclusion beyond this and instead hope the discussion starts flowing from here
I got a pm from a LPer a while ago who was asking about switching from msnl to plo. I thought I'd share the Q&A
Just had a few random PLO questions, hope you don't mind, tell me to bugger off if you like
I'm a 2/4+ NL reg atm, and have forever been considering a switch to PLO. How are today's games compared to NL? How do you think the future games will be?
I'm still looking to be playing poker at least 3+ more years, do you think learning PLO would be worth it?
Any general advice on switching is much appreciated, it sure as hell is alot more fun!
Really quick cliff notes:
- people play plo much worse than people play nlhe today
- the above is not necessarily good news, because actually plo is much harder to get good at and quite a bit more complicated than nlhe
- imo there's more potential for money to be made at plo than nlhe and this will most likely remain the case for the foreseeable future (tho really cant speculate on future too well, lots of unforeseen stuff can happen).. but on the flipside it's ofcourse also harder
- nlhe skills dont translate well into plo skills. i personally found plo really frustrating to learn for a long time while i was still playing nlhe on the side, and only really started making progress after i decided to quit nlhe completely and focus 100% on learning plo. it was a risky step to abandon a game i can already make a living at for a game i'm bad at, and probably shouldn't be considered unless you've accumulated enough and are overrolled enough that you can afford to have a fruitless few months at least, and have the strength to keep trying
- i dont need to tell you this as you should already know from having gotten to 2/4nl, but learning a new game to a level where you can make good money won't be easy. not everyone can do it.
- if you invest time learning, playing more than 4 tables is probably the stupidest thing to do. one might even argue 4 is too many when learning. you need to question and think about literally every decision
- you've probably heard things about the variance already. be prepared for long periods of pain and dont fall into the trap of blaming variance and aiev on why you're doing poorly. you could always do work to improve your edge, and a player with a big edge will have 50bi downswings way way way less often than a player with a small edge (i.e. most midstakes regs that play a shitload of tables, go for sne and cry about big variance)
Well I'm pretty low key usually so you might not realise I was gone or remember who I am, which is fine. I've been a part of this community since the very beginning and it has now been 6 years since I've played poker professionally. It sounds insane when I put it into words like that, that's the majority of my adult life! In the earlier years my life was really unbalanced and all about poker, which was fine for a time until it inevitably stopped being fine. Probably in the past couple of years I've felt that isn't the best way to live life, and especially in the last ~14 months made an effort to change it up. I don't wanna ramble on too much about that cause I don't want this to turn into some emoblog, so the main cliffnotes I guess are I put travel and exercise as higher priorities than poker, and tried to make constant effort to change and break old habits that involve spending a ton of time on the computer closed off from the world outside ones immediate bubble. I can't say I'm a completely different person or have completely fixed all the bad habits possible but at least have made a lot of progress and hope to continue (it's a pretty slow long process I think). I have a feeling a lot of you guys are like me - being from very similar backgrounds we are bound to be similar in a lot of ways and have had very similar experiences, so I'm guessing you'll understand what I'm saying.
The cliff notes are it was a great experience and a wild ride, I visited 8 countries, did some adventurous stuff and met some amazing people. Also I stopped being so out of shape which is very +life ev. Some people can just live homeless and travel forever or for an extremely long time but after all that I was craving some stability, to stay in the same place a while and build a good balanced life there with a good circle of people close to you, lots of things to do and lots of time and freedom to work on your goals (poker, exercise, reading, etc). So a couple of months ago I moved to central London which might have been the best thing I could've done, as it has everything. Life expenses here are insane but that's just more motivation to play better and work harder Now I'm 2 months into the swing of things. I'm motivated to work hard at poker, going to the best gym I've ever heard of (gyms like this don't exist in normal places), playing a ton of badminton (addicted, really fun sport), got a really fun circle of friends who are always up for doing stuff, in a city with loads of amazing and varied food/experiences and also there's a special girl involved (not gonna put pics u creepos, although byrnesam would likely approve).
Cliffs: Took some time off poker, but playing again now, life is good
Playing hu plo across more than 1 site, generally playing anyone that will join unless I already have action and trying to have quick stoplosses against good regs. Things went my way
Decided to invest the time that winning buys you into learning 6max plo (something I've played very little of lifetime, I was always a hu specialist since July 2010 when I decided to quit nlhe and focus 100% on learning plo) and played mainly on stars. Things did not go my way.
Well this is probably the least phased I've been after such a trainwreck of a month and I guess having life balance is to thank for that. Ofcourse there are feelings of extreme stress and frustration immediately after repeated losing sessions but that's something we all have to deal with, just part of the territory. Luckily for me it goes away the next day. I know I'm pretty terrible right now compared to how good some players are and how good I believe I can be, but in this moment I really like that humbling feeling of making mistakes, failing, losing and being human. It gives you a goal to aim to. I really like the idea of continual self improvement and doing a little every day to become better. Ofcourse it's impossible to keep that up literally every single day, sometimes you just need a break, but if you're moving forward in general I think it feels better than if you're not. Guess I'll just hope June goes better^^
By the way while I'm happy to and want to share this stuff with the LP community, I feel kind of uncomfortable about the fact that anyone from outside is able to google and find this sort of info about me and so I'd like to ask mods not to "feature" any blog I make on the lp front page, and probably will ask to have this deleted in a few months/years. I do wanna share it with you guys though and enjoy when a lot of you share what you're up to as well. Quick shoutout to a couple LPers I've met and/or begun talking to a lot this year - David (locoo20) is an epic gentleman and talented player in poker and life. Thanks for showing me around in Lima mate! And Quentin (mipwnya) likewise is the man.
About a month ago I had an interesting dinner conversation with some close friends that are also poker players about poker communities (one of the very rare times we talk about poker). One side of the argument was that making any sort of contribution to a community of serious poker players is a really bad idea. You're decreasing your own future EV by making other players better at taking money out of the poker economy, and you aren't really doing net overall good in the world when it's specifically a zero (or negative with rake) sum game like poker, where one man's gain is another man's loss. It was the opinion of the guy who held this side of the argument (don't wanna out anyone as they might get berated lol) that while leeching advice when he was new and coming up in poker was really useful for him, he always thought even then that the people giving the free advice back then were being stupid and should've kept quiet to preserve their bottom lines, and all current pro poker players should also be keeping quiet.
The main pro-community participation argument was, if you gained so much from the community by reading forums and leeching advice when you were new and coming up in poker then you owe it to the community to give back/pay it forward. Even though you're not giving back to the same people whos forum advice helped you years ago when you were learning poker, it's not about specific members but the idea of community as a whole. The idea that if you give and help freely in an environment with people who are also giving and helping freely, and encouraged to do so then the net outcome is better for all participants than if everyone keeps to themselves - the very idea of a community.
I'd be interested to hear what you guys think.
Personally I didn't have any strong stance either way and hadn't thought about it before this conversation came up. Years in the past I may have thought similarly to the guy in the first paragraph (and that is a part of the reason I haven't done almost anyblogging or hand posting here since 2008), but during this conversation I became increasingly convinced by the pro-community side. Even though it might hurt your bottom line and this might outweigh the intangible benefits of being a contributing community member (debatable), I think it's a better way to live life. On this vein I plan to participate a bit more on 2+2 and especially here starting now. Don't expect replies to every single strategy thread or anything like that (infact I never open any strategy threads just cause I find it kinda boring to engage my mind in poker strategy in any way that isn't directly playing, not cause I don't wanna share knowledge or something) but I def have an updated attitude towards community.
Hi guys. Happy 2012! Let's achieve our goals this year!
So earlier today I booked a last minute trip for 3 weeks from next week because why not. I'm headed towards South America and am gonna meet up with a small group of close mates that already out there, including my housemate Tom who prob needs no introduction on here. Pretty excited for the trip, here's my rough itinerary:
- Tues 17 Jan fly from London in the morning to Madrid. It's a connecting flight to Buenos Aires but I did it in such a way that I should have a day to quickly check out Madrid. Are there any LPers in Madrid who wanna meet up for dinner/a beer/show me around a bit next Tuesday? That would be awesome if so! Pls msg me asap!
- A week in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Jan 18th-24th
- ????????????? from Jan 24th to Jan 28th. Haven't decided yet. My friends are going to Rurrenabaque to mess about in a jungle. As I hate bugs I think I would enjoy that about as much as Karl Pilkington did on An Idiot Abroad. I may just suck it up and join them for the experience and to say I did it. Open to any suggestions, anything unmissable? Next stop is in Peru so was considering Lima on the shortlist for this slot of time, any LPers in Lima who wanna show me around? locoo is that where u are?
- Get to Cusco, Peru on 29th. Check out the sights there for a couple of days, acclimatise to the altitude a bit. Then a 4 day jungle route (ffs no bugs plz) to Machu Picchu including downhill biking, rafting, 2 days trekking and last day hike up to MP itself. Looking really forward to this except for bugs. One rest day in Cusco after this before...
- 5th Feb fly to La Paz, Bolivia to ride a bicycle down something called Death Road.
- 7th Feb be happy to be still alive (one time) and hightail it back to London.
Would love as much feedback as I can get about any part of any of this. For example, what can you do in half a day in Madrid? What shouldn't we miss in Buenos Aires? What are some things I should consider doing to fill in "??????????"?