What if…

Patrick "pads1161" Leonard  

Every month in the bitB community each player gives his individual goals for the month, the rest of the team will keep him accountable as at the end of the month, you repost your goals, state how you did and why you feel like you didn’t do well in some of them.


Usually you get the normal “study 3 days/week” “run 30 hands thoroughly through piosolver” or “do 25 push ups every break” this month one of our really promising guys from Brazil posted an interesting one. “Work out whether to continue at university or play poker full time” his parents, girlfriend and support system outside of bitB Staking had all strongly advised him not to go down the route of full time degenerate gambler, he was looking for advice and most of the guys all were very strong in their advice of “stick in at university”. I actually read all of them, and whilst respecting them, really disagreed. In this random article that I write on my flight from Newcastle to London I’m going to try and think about the pro’s for sticking with uni, the pro’s for sticking with poker, the bad things that can happen if poker goes poorly and the bad things that can happen if you don’t give poker your all.

 

Firstly let me just speak a little bit about the people we have involved at bitB. Our application process is extremely tough, we have a “roll rate” (players taking the money and running for the hills) of less than 1% (industry average is around 10%) and thus anybody who gets into bitB is going to be very smart and have a really promising future ahead of themselves. I would never advise somebody with no background in poker to quit university lectures and fire up 6 tables of zoom, if you’re in the poker society at Sheffield university and play one time a week please don’t quit!  This whole post and scenario will be based on somebody who is winning at a decent rate already and earning amounts that are higher than the national average graduate wage.

 

When I was at university I loved poker, love is perhaps an understatement, no girl would have been able to compete for my time outside of lectures, I was besotted by the game, extremely envious of the guys at the top of the tree and would do anything to get there. I just started a game of football manager 2017 and I had to allocate points to my manager style. I opted for 70% tactical, 30% technical. If I had to allocate points how I approached university/poker together I think I went around 65% poker, 35% university. At the time there were kids very similar to myself who dropped out of university completely, your Tom Dwans and Andrew Robl’s of the world, they gave up everything because they knew there was a chance to dedicate themselves to poker and succeed. I was a bit of a pussy and couldn’t bring it to myself to tell my parents that I was quitting to play poker, and whilst things turned out OK, who knows maybe I could have been writing this from a private jet in the middle of the Caribbean rather than balling out in the emergency exit seats at British Airways.

 

1- It allows you to have a plan B

 

Sure, if poker doesn’t work out then its nice to have something to fall back onto. This is the most valid excuse I hear, however I don’t agree with it, but will get onto this a little bit later when I present the case for skipping uni.

 

2- Stops you from having a gap in your CV

 

This is bullshit I think. Companies way prefer to take on fresh graduates, its almost forcing you to quit poker once you graduate. Lets say you graduate next year and then want to play poker for 2-3 years longer, poker finishes and then you look for jobs. Now there is a CLEAR gap in your cv no? Studying after poker and then being a fresh graduate is what my papi Joey Ingram would say is GTO.

 

3- Helps your life not get taken over by poker

 

Again, bullshit. Almost offensive. Show me somebody who is good at university, poker and has a really good active social life and plays a lot of sport and I’ll show you either a 2nd class degree graduate or a 3evbb/100 reg! Simply put its impossible to do it all, to really enjoy life, see friends and play sports you simply can’t put 100% into both university and poker.

 

4- It helps friends/family looking down on you

 

As *** says “fuck em, will they still be looking down on you when you’re paying their monthly fucking lexus payments?” if you have a chance now to make connections for the rest of your life and get financially stable 20 years before your friends and the only reason you don’t do it is because your friends and family can’t understand then its because you’re either 1) not explaining to them well enough exactly what you’re doing or 2) its because they simply don’t want to listen/learn, again “fuck em” they’ll understand one day, I promise.

 

 

 

Now lets go onto why its good to play poker and quit uni for now

 

1- Uni is ALWAYS going to be there. Whatever you have done so far in your life to be accepted into university thats 99% of the time going to be just as good in 3 or 5 years. University will always be an option.

 

2- We should enjoy university. One of my biggest regrets in life is not giving university 100%. I let the social side of university completely go and decided to put all of that time into poker, I also let the studying side of university slip too. I went to probably 5-10% of classes and “winged” it. Looking back now there was so many cool things at university, I was a journalism student and we had so many tasks and assignments and research that I decided to just skip so I could play the double deuce. I remember looking back and one friend in my class went on the streets speaking to homeless people, eventually he became friendly with them and with their trust they gave him a phone that was stolen from a senior government member, in there he found so much juicy information, spend weeks filing a case and then spread it out through different media outlets. This kinda stuff now seems super cool, interesting and exciting to me. At the time it raised some intrigue, but I didn’t really care, I could have went to the pub with him for an hour and speak about it all but it was 5pm and I had 60 minutes to get home before I missed late reg of the 109r! I really want to go back to university, I want to study, I want to learn, I want to do very fucking good. I want to be proud of the work I do and raise the levels of expectations from the people I’m giving the work to. Right now its impossible with all poker and business stuff I’m doing, but one of my goals in life is to go back, study and be the bitB at whatever I choose to do. Oh yeah, and university with money sounds a lot more fun than being a broke student. Remember, if you do decide to go to university, not give it everything, get a 2nd class degree that won’t get you a good job in the future and be half hearted in everything you do there because you know deep down you don’t want to be there then its going to be very expensive. Tuition, accommodation, books etc are all really expensive and they are only really worth it if you do really well.

 

3- You have a chance to be financially secure. A lot of my friends have good jobs, as a graduate in the UK I think if you’re earning £30,000 its considered as a decent wage. We all know that in poker if you’re doing well at mid or higher stakes attaining this salary is not difficult. If you’re playing 1000 games/month playing full time at a average stake of $60 and have a 20% roi (all extremely reasonable numbers) then you’re able to make around $140,000/year. If these are your current numbers and you have 2 options, 1) Study poker really hard and go to $80 abi and 30% roi then suddenly you’re making $260,000/year. or 2) You drop to 300 games/month (this is around avg volume for somebody studying) and $40 abi and 10% roi because you don’t have the time to study as much then you’re making $15,000/year.

 

Run a few sims yourself..

 

1000 games, $30 abi, 20% roi  $72k yearly expectation (VERY VERY ACHIEVABLE!!!!)

 

500 games, $50 abi, 20% roi  $60k yearly expectation  (VERY ACHIEVABLE!!!!)

 

1000 games, $150 abi, 20% roi, $360k yearly expectation (achievable)

 

Most people I know who left university were very happy/content to get a job for £25,000 with the hopes of getting to £50,000 in 5 years if they work really hard and £100,000 if they do really, really, really well. You have the opportunity if you put everything into this to make more this year than really smart guys with good degrees will make at the peak of their career.

 

4- Connections. If you’re in a community such as bitB or are surrounded by like minded skilled players then these guys aren’t going got just retire and move to Thailand and sleep on a beach. These guys are highly motivated individuals who want to do well, strive for a challenge and are very smart. Once poker is gone you can bet that the people you’re surrounded by now are going to be successful. They aren’t going to just give up on life and take a 9-5 job. Poker gives us more freedom than almost any job in the world and the chance to work in start ups will be very possible for guys who impress others now. Lets say I start a company tomorrow and looking for some guys to join it, of course I’ll take industry experts, but I’m also going to bring in really smart guys that I’ve met through poker that I know will be able to quickly learn and offer a different approach. Sure, if you go to university you will meet some connections too, but I have a feeling not of the calibre you will meet through poker.

 

5- Don’t ask yourself “What if?” - Many of the top guys in poker are smart, sure. But they are not rocket scientists, if you ask Fedor Holz why he has been so successful, will the answer be because of his amazing genes or because he simply worked extremely hard and surrounded himself with very, very good people? Was Tom Dwans genes set up so that he’d be the sickest of his generation or did he live with a lot of very top players and have thousands upon thousands of strategy posts/questions on twoplustwo? Anybody who is able to beat mid stakes right now has the potential and chance to succeed at the highest level if they use their resources correctly. Take Ben Heath and Charlie Carrel, two friends of mine who rose from nl10 to playing super high rollers in the matter of a few years. They are super smart guys sure, but they also worked their absolute coconuts (shout out Will Kassouf) off, surrounded themselves with smart guys (each other actually!) and gave their life to poker for a couple of years. The chance that you guys have the chance to compete with the very best players in the world day in day out and beat them both with luck and with skill should be so motivating. Being able to c/r Fedor on the 753 from the big blind or to be able to call against isildur in the big 55 on Wednesday on T85T8 with 77 correctly is fun. If you decide to go and do your marketing degree, sometimes reading twitter of guys you used to crush winning another $100,000 you may be heading back on public transport in 4 years with your $50,000 job that your parents are really proud of you for “sticking in and getting there” and getting home to a kiss on the cheek from your girlfriend asking you “how was your day darling” and just asking yourself, what if…

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Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Edgardo (Thursday, 10 November 2016 16:30)

    Nice read Patrick.
    Im also in this spot, but even in a hard one. University- poker- american football.
    Waking up 4:40AM some days and training every single day, the sundays, there are gym sessions and meetings early in the morning. Then the university,
    Its hard to find spots where you can grind and play your A game, because the truth is , you are tired as fuck! Or even have some gains to read some HHs because. If you dont sleep, you may be tired all the next day.
    But Its fun, and Nice the way you have to manage yourself to be able to do it everything, doing so many things.
    Sometimes you want to start your session, and there is your "4pm meetings" and fuck the session. Or you keep on the grind till 3AM and then , the is your 7am class.
    My current grind isnt poker, school, or football. Is to know the best way to manage time.

  • #2

    West (Thursday, 10 November 2016 19:28)

    I think the most important thing on this subject is to have a plan-b. Dropping out of uni is combined with a risk and you drop out to gamble. Sure, you can be a winning player, but that can easily change. I imagine it is hard to return to uni to study if you have been taking a break of 1, 2 or even 3 years. I live in Denmark, and we have a system where it is normal to take 1 year off before uni. I am lucky enough to approach that year, where I will be part time working and part time taking poker more seriously. But of course all countries will not have a system like that.

    Interesting and well written post. Definitely a subject that can be discussed a lot more!

  • #3

    Mtts (Friday, 11 November 2016 03:43)

    Well, it’s very interesting topic. Successful poker players and ordinary people are going to see it very differently. I do like that you try to keep people motivated and positive, however poker can be seen as a very selfish, dull, isolating, risky, controversial, unfulfilling, not perspective small-scale occupation. His parents, girlfriend and support system have a right to be worried. There are no guarantees and you might be wasting your real life opportunity cost at a young age. When you are a fulltime poker player most people think of you as a generate gambler and only few of close to you people know what you are doing. The line between a pro and a gambler is pretty small.
    Those who have tried to live for a long time with a girlfriend and play poker full time know how hard it is long term. What if you have a family, kids?
    There can be issues with taxes, home loan. You should weigh the worst option that you won’t feel any fulfillment after a while - it can feel as a soul crushing grind. You need to earn like 4x the average graduate wage when you are staked for it to be worth it. You will get only half of the money when you are staked. You might want to try to save your own bankroll. There are other nuances. It’s very close.
    Most of the guys love poker when they are young and naive but when they mature, some might understand that poker has not so much to offer - mainly no fulfillment and no realistic long term happy future.
    Papi Joe Ingram is actively looking himself how to move up from poker.
    Family is number 1 priority for most people. The example of the Lexus seems very appealing but does everyone get financially stable when staked? Financially secure? I guess only few per hundred hard workers at best. The odds are against you. Does working hard guarantee you the $ for the next x years?
    80$ abi and 30% roi? Can you make any hard working guy make that happen? $150 abi, 20% roi? How many hours will it take? Will the games be around in a few years?

  • #4

    Josh (Tuesday, 14 February 2017 07:58)

    Great read. I am graduating from a top public university this May and declined a large starting salary to play poker. Everything you said is basically my thought process and how I came to my decision. Pro #5 is personally my biggest reason for choosing poker. I've interned at places and gotten months of what my "job" would be and know that risking that for poker is well worth it, at least for me. Plus, like anything in life, poker rewards the hardest working. Thanks for the article. It is cool to see something like this when most people around me have the opposite opinion.


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