I still can’t get over it. I’m being paid to play poker professionally. Is this really happening or is it some awesome dream I can’t wake up from? I’ve been thinking a lot about people who want to take up poker professionally and my biggest piece of advice is this: Whatever you do, don’t burn all your bridges. Don’t jump up on your bosses desk swearing, ranting and raving about quitting your job and leaving the 9-5 routine to play poker. You may just need a job from this person again one day, or a reference. Personally, I loved my day job as a teacher, but I couldn’t do justice to both teaching and the prize Paddy Power has offered me and so I have taken a year out to follow this Sole Survivor amazingness. I plan to go back into teaching or some other similar career as I know from personal experience that I can fall out of love with poker. Not only that, but I want a family one day. I don’t want my future kids’ lunch money depending on the turn of a card. Even if I was 100 percent confident of paying the bills with a poker career, it’s a fairly selfish career. I’ve always enjoyed my teaching job because a large part of it involves trying to help disadvantaged kids make something of themselves. I guess that’s why I plan to donate some winnings to charity and do some volunteer work while I’m not travelling. This will also ensure that poker’s not the only thing on the agenda this year and keep me from falling out of love with it (I hope).
If you are thinking of trying to play poker as a career, bear in mind it can get quite expensive to travel and play poker. If you plan on quitting your job to try this for a living you need at least two years wages in the bank in case it all turns to dust. Even if you intend on playing exclusively online you still have your living expenses to worry about and this must be kept separate from your bankroll. It’s a tough old world out there and you may have trouble finding a job if this all goes wrong. You need financial security in order to do this, which I’m fortunate enough to have given my experience in the Irish Poker Open. Maybe you have the same security as me from a big poker win or maybe you have been grinding away online and made yourself a decent bankroll. Congratulations if that is the case! But keep in mind that in poker it can all go wrong very quickly. Think Mike McDermott in the movie Rounders. You need a lot of discipline with your money, which I’m fortunate enough to have thanks to my Dad. In a way you’re going to be self-employed and be your own boss, your finances are going to be completely dependent on how you play. A big part about how well you play depends on your emotional and physical well-being and I doubt I’ll fully appreciate that until later this year.
My first major tournaments are coming up in less than a month. The Estrellas Poker Tour overlaps with the European Poker Tour Barcelona. Two major events. One awesome city. And me. Hungry to test my mettle against the best in the world again. And even hungrier to bag myself a win. Either that or I could emulate Mike McDermott and risk my entire bankroll on the €50,000 high roller game that’s happening in Barcelona this August. Ohhh the temptation… If only just to see the look on my Dad’s face.