For a four-year period, from 2003 through 2007, I intended to become a professional poker player. I bought dozens of books on how to play poker, how to read your opponents, bluffing, the math of poker, etc. Pretty much the only thing I watched on TV for those four years was poker. I was learning and assimilating and trying to get inside the heads of the world’s leading poker players. I played online poker almost every day for four years. And I played in casinos, small casinos and big casinos every chance I got. But I eventually went a different way. So what made me decide to change my career path after investing so much time in my poker education?
Here are some secrets about poker that I didn't count on. They are very rarely talked about or written about. The first secret is a phenomenon that applies to all types of gambling, and even aggressive investment strategies. I don't know if it has a name, but it goes something like this--
When you lose $500 (or any significant amount), the pain you feel is worse than the joy you feel from winning that same amount of money. If you have an emotional attachment to money (and who doesn't?), you are constantly battling with your emotions. Because no matter how good you are, you are still going to have losing days.
You can play mathematically perfect poker and still get your butt kicked. This happens for two reasons: First, if you are playing that way, people will eventually figure it out, start bluffing you more, and start folding when you come out betting strong. That's when you need to switch it around to throw them off. But it might be too late by then.
There is enough luck involved in poker, that you can play world-class poker and still lose some major hands to some schmuck who just got lucky. Now that hurts! All of these things, for me at least, make poker very hard to master. I still love to play, but not as a profession.
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