Choosing who you live with as a poker player.

Patrick "pads1161" Leonard  


Choosing who you live with as a poker player is really important and probably something most people don't get right. Let's say that average career of a online poker player is 5 years. If you commit to living with somebody for 1 year on a long contract then you're committing to living with them for 20% of your career. For an industry where you really need to be happy at home and feel comfortable and relaxed it can be a huge error. Not only may you not like the guy or he disturbs your sleeping or spoils the environment that you live and work in but you can also be missing out on other people, soaking other knowledge, improving from other people and maximizing your potentially by learning from different people.



I think GTO living arrangements for a poker player is actually to live by yourself. Generally if you're living in a 2 or 3 bedroom place with a poker player they will be going in and out at different times of the day. Maybe they party on Saturday night, slam the door too loud and you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep and then your Sunday grind is ruined. Maybe you're in a great sleeping rhythm and then they go out for Salsa night in Wednesday and wake you at 4am and then it's ****ed again. The real world lives for the weekend, generally they all share an identical rhythm throughout the week give or take 30 minutes extra in the morning and then on the weekend all hell goes on but that's expected and understood. Monday might be tough but everything is back to normal by Tuesday. With poker the one thing we really struggle to attain (I'm writing this at 6am having woken up at 4am, lol jet lag) is a routine. It's something so simple. We quit college, school, 9-5 so we don't need to have a routine. But once we are in this profession it's actually the one thing we strive for. We procrastinate in bed watching videos and reading Wikipedia and then 3 hours later ask ourselves why didn't I just sleep?

I always tell myself "it's ok, we will start again on Monday, a clean slate" I often do (I often don't aswell!) but by the next Monday usually something has came in the way to stop this rhythm. Generally living with another poker player is the most obvious reason that it does go downhill.

Another bad thing about living with poker players is you have two options. 1) live with somebody you don't really know, 2) live with somebody you know pretty well.


1- this is a potential problem for so many different and obvious reasons. Especially when you work where you live it becomes very easy to feel unhappy because of the way somebody else is. You washed all the dishes and then this mfker dirtied them? Does he have to have his music on so loud?! How can he have his pokerstars alert buttons on when I'm trying to concentrate too?! So many small and trivial things hat anybody else would think we're irrelevant but can add up.


2- this is a potential bigger problem than 1. The longer you spend with somebody the easier it is to see the worse of them. If you meet somebody 2x a week for dinner and have a great relationship then it doesn't mean you will just live together and be best of friends. Small things will start to grate on you. Once the smaller things grate on you you start to nitpick in things that don't need nitpicking. Generally things will go great at first and then slowly deteriorate over time. If you have a really good friendship with somebody then I'd advise not risking it by living together. It's not because either of you are bad people but it can just make things sour between you and regret the whole thing.

Of course there are so many great things about living with somebody who is a very good friend. I just think personally living with somebody for 1 year or 6 months that you haven't lived with before is a really dangerous thing for a poker player. If the last 4 months of a 6 month contract really effect your ability to work and maximise your potential then maybe that's 10% of your career that you've really ****ed up.

I have had on the whole great living arrangements. I've lived by myself, I've lived as a two, I've lived as a three. I think generally living in bigger groups is easier. It means you can have your own space for longer without feeling a need to socialize. It means you're seeing different and fresher faces every day and it means there's different people to learn from and to motivate. This summer I had a really great house with similar poeple, all with similar motivations and all genuinely hoping for the others to do well. That's also something that happens when you live with somebody for so long in a game controlled by variance. If you are losing and losing and losing and your friend is playing similarity or worse to you and is binking and binking and binking it's really easy to get sour, easy to get jealous and easy to funk for the deuce when your friend gets it all in pre with 80 left in the million with aces vs deuces. Previously I used to actually really struggle with this, I thought I was really a bad person for wanting my friends to sometimes lose. Of course I didn't really want them to lose, but I was just jealous of their success whilst I was failing. i read a lot about it and it's a normal expression to feel, it's just you not being able to handle your negative emotions so well. I haven't felt this way in a long time, I know deep down somewhere it's still there though and could creep back at any time.

Not sure what the point of this post is, I just started writing and speaking what is very likely a lot of nonsense. I just think that you can value studying, grinding, eating well, working out, meditating etc but imo the most important thing you can do as a poker player is have a good, healthy living arrangement that's easy to get out of if things aren't as they initially seemed.



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Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Stephen Burt - 24Caliber (Monday, 24 October 2016 15:32)

    Thanks for that, nice read.

    Who you live with is a big decision for your poker career and your "life" career.

    Circumstances are different for everyone, the realistic options that are available to: a 20 year old University student with no dependencies who plays poker while studying, a 30 year old full time proffessional player, and a 36 with a wife, kids and mortgage part time player, are going to be very different.

    Review your own situation and figure out what is best for you and mutually beneficial if you intend to live with others.

    One tip I would give to any poker player full time or part time, is to inform the people they spend the most time with (e.g. their housemate or girlfriend or family) that they are serious about poker, show them your documented short term and long goals for example, ask them for feedback, acknowledge their ideas and have them buy into your Poker career (not financially, but so that understand what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve it). This can highly mitigate the risk of conflicts in the future and can change people from burdens on your career to essential supports for your success.

    It is hard to for non-poker people (can we call them muggles? lol) to understand the variance and emotional stress of poker, but another important point is that they need to appreciate that when you are playing, you need to focus, you need to avoid distractions, the money you are playing with is real and you need to consistently play your best to maximise your results.

    Being a poker poker means you have flexibility with your schedule, but the schedule you do make (if you make one :)) needs to be respected or you are failing at a fundamental level in my opinion. Most poker players are successful not because they have exceptional strategy, but because they have all their fundamentals at a strong level, this includes: bankroll management, work ethic, mental game and poker strategy. Just being good at reading cards is not a solid long term strategy for making money from poker.

    And although you may talk about big numbers for winnings and loses, this money is part of your business and separate to real life money - you still need to respect money in real life even if in poker you can swing 100's or 1000's every day!

    If you tell your girlfriend you just won what she earns in a month, well that can become quite a degrading experience for her, even if this is not your intention. How would you feel if your other half just told you they won more than they earn in a month, in a job that you may not even enjoy doing?
    Also they may not respect that you earned the money and then feel that they are entitled to some, which is your choice not theirs (I'd recommend doing so though, the universe works in strange ways, for example money is just like smiling, if you want to recieve more money or smiles, then first you have to give out more money or smiles, just do it smartly hah)

    Sometimes just to say good or bad day is a better way to deal with discussing poker financials.

    Further to this another important point is to realise that what happens in Poker is not the fault of the people around you, if you have a bad day at the tables try to avoid carrying this with you or you may become a displeasant experience for those around you that you care about which I am sure you do not want....It's just not fair and not nice, they have no control over your results! Be the best person you can for them.

    A good way to avoid this is by documenting your results at the end of each session, that way you can unload everything and bank it in that document (e.g. a spreadsheet), then go on to spend quality time with your friends and family regardless of your results. Don't let poker variance control your life or you will have a very high variance life lol!

    Back to living arrangements, consistently studies have shown that the environment (which includes people) you surround yourself will have a direct impact on your success, results and failures, and from interviewing some of the very succesful players and businessmen myself there is no exception to the rule - they are surrounded by other successful people. Not necessarily like-minded, but certainly successful.

    I lived with another poker friend of mine for a few months and it worked out really well, I would recommend it - we both spent more time reviewing hands and studying poker, sharing ideas and putting them into action (as we are accountable to someone else rather than ourself), we would help each other out when variance was against us and we both appreciated each others lifestyle with regarding to playing poker.

  • #2

    Stephen Burt - 24Caliber (Monday, 24 October 2016 15:32)

    In the post you discuss about being jealous of other peoples success...especially if on a bad run, being geniunely happy for other people's success (whether just or unjust) and not bitter or jealous of it is a great way to go far and build strong relationships. Be someone that helps build an environment for winners.

    Hmmm that became quite a long post, just some lessons I have learnt from my experience playing and coaching poker for 8 years - hope it is helpful to someone :)