The Two Types Of Players

In my mind, there are two different types of players in poker.

There are the recreational players. This category includes 99% of players. Recreational players, in my mind, mean more than just the average punter. These are also the people who play several times a week semi-seriously even though they keep a normal job. They might even make money from the game.

The guys who are playing "professionally" out of high school are actually recreational players to me. Many still live with their parents. They live to smoke pot, play cards, and goof off with their friends after the game breaks.

The second group of players is the 1%. It's the true professionals. It's the guys who literally feed their children off this game.

They work harder than everybody. They see themselves playing this game for the rest of their lives, or until they have a million-dollar nest egg. They're lifers, whether they know it or not. The game runs in their veins, and nothing could separate them from it.

The game needs both groups of players. And I truly love all of them.

I love the guys who take poker seriously, but have enough common sense to keep their real job. They're the ones who play with no pressure on them deep in a tournament.

I love the kids who just want to smoke pot and hang out at the cardroom. That was one of the best times of my life. No one had more fun than I did in my teens. I'm too damn old now to partake and goof off all day on the felt, but I don't begrudge anyone who does this. The job market sucks anyway in many parts of the world. It's your life. Have as much fun as you can before this rock stops spinning.

I love the diehard pros too, because I don't know how they do it. There's guys who literally can't fathom a life without the game. It's part of them. It's inspiring.

Now, I bring all this up, because I have to say one thing:

You need to know which group you're in.

There is nothing more depressing than a guy who is in the first group who thinks he's in the second.

No, I take that back. There is one thing that's more depressing. It's the serious pro with a wife and kids who's getting into the harder drugs, because he spent too much time partying with the first group.

You need to know which group you're in, and own it.

There's nothing wrong with being in either group. Guys with real jobs can play poker more fearlessly than the guy worrying about buying his groceries. The kids who are goofing off every day at the cardroom can actually make some pretty big discoveries.

It always annoyed me when I was younger to see all the guys who acted like being a professional poker player was akin to being a state diplomat. Especially when we'd been doing it for two whole years. If you're supporting your family, yeah, I get it. Take it serious. But I actually think there's a danger in being a cardroom bum who thinks he's a pro.

I got way better at poker than I ever deserved to be because I kept goofing off.

They asked Stephen King one time how the hell he wrote Carrie when he was working grueling hours as a teacher and administrative worker. He said, "I was having fun!" The guy was just playing around when he got home. He had the balls to not take it so seriously.

I made sure to have plenty of fun when I started in poker. Even if I was in some dump town in the middle of nowhere, I'd always make myself do something stupid to enjoy it. I ran through the cornfields once in upstate New York. I walked a desert in 120 degree heat once to just see how it felt.

Eventually, I'd get luckier. The game would take me to some beaches and metropolises. I had a lot of good times.

I noticed years later that not taking myself so seriously actually paid off too. Even when a tournament stop didn't work out,

I'd look back at it fondly. "Ah hell, at least we all saw that shady backroom boxing match." That got me out to more poker tournaments.

I also wasn't trying to be perfect all the time. I kept studying the game because, hell, why not? I wasn't anxious that I wasn't the best yet. I didn't believe I had everything figured out. After a while, I knew I had no place on the tour, and I was just enjoying the joy ride while it lasted.

You can learn a lot when you're just having fun, trying to find an angle you can use the next time you play.

I just kept doing this my entire adult life. Eventually, I found one day that I did belong, and all the guys who took themselves so seriously faded. I can't claim to be one of the greats, but since I knew I was a recreational player I was able to stay in my lane and develop my own way.

If you have a day job, or you just love bumming around the cardroom, own it man. Have fun with it. Don't be ashamed of it.

Poker needs you too.

Keep having fun. You don't know where it could take you. 

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