Larry and I were talking about recent developments in our lives. We both were offered jobs and had accepted them. As we stood there drinking our Estrella Jalisco beers that I had found in my fridge, I questioned what this next chapter in our lives meant for our poker careers. I had just read a book that a friend had given me. In it, the author made a comment about poker players who would later get jobs because they couldn’t cut it as poker players. Many poker players that I look up to, some who have coached me, have all said that poker should not be your only revenue stream. What does that mean? As I stood there pondering life, Larry looked at me and said, “Bro, it doesn’t mean we failed. It just means we are doing what we have to do. Our stories are not over yet.”
The job offer I accepted is for a poker room supervisor. It’s been five years since I had my last job. Half that time all I did was play poker and the other half I lived my life. I am not sure how long this will last. I still feel conflicted about the position. I want to continue playing poker but I need to figure out what that looks like now that I have a job. Then there are my colleagues… should I call them coworker or subordinates instead? A part of me wonders what some of them think of someone like me with no professional experience in the industry. Some of them are old enough to be one of my parents. A part of me wonders if my reasons for taking the job will come to fruition. What did I get myself into? Is this what I really wanted?
My first few weeks went by fast. Spending the time in the shoes of a poker room supervisor has given me a newfound respect for what it takes to run an efficient and successful poker room. It looks a lot easier than it really is. Constantly having to find a compromise that suits conflicting interests. One person wants to straddle but can’t. Another player wants to play with cash. Other players just don’t understand the rules of the game and I find myself explaining basic things about poker like missing the blinds, betting in turn, or protecting your hand. These are all things that I have taken for granted because I never had to explain these rules and procedures to anyone before. It wasn’t my responsibility to make sure my opponent understood the rules to poker. My job was to take their money and make sure that they had a good time losing. In some respects, my job is still to make sure that the losing players are having a good time but instead of me taking their money its my regulars taking their money.
The exposure to more gambling types has been interesting but not surprising. I have noticed some of them before while playing against them. The kid who moved to Vegas to be a pro but doesn’t understand the game the way he should if he wants to be successful. The countless middle aged, disheveled guys who spend all night gambling and waking up half past noon. The old retirees who just wants to play some poker and socialize. The difference now is that I am observing everyone and making sure they all follow the rules. This includes the bigger games that I would only see from afar as an outsider. I guess I am still an outsider to them. It doesn’t feel like they stepped into my world.
Some of these players don’t respect position, bet sizing, or money. They just play poker to play the game. It makes me wonder how hard it is to play poker at higher stakes. Did I really need to spend all that time studying the game? Will the studying matter if even at that level I could still be an outsider looking in. It doesn’t matter if I have enough money to play the grown up games, what matters is if you have been invited to play with them. It makes me realize how important it is to cultivate a specific image of how I play. When I get up to those stakes, I don’t want to be that guy who tries really hard to get a seat at the table only to be left on the outside looking in through the window of what could be.
One thing I am grateful of is that I am not the player who worries about one, two, or three dollars. If you are that person and you can’t let it go, then maybe you shouldn’t be gambling. Don’t get it twisted, I am not saying you don’t deserve to get your couple of dollars if its rightfully yours. What I am saying is that if you don’t follow the rules of the game and respect the procedures of the game then karma can be a bitch, you will get screwed over. Don’t be that person. Don’t be the person who gloats to strangers when you win a hand and then complains because something didn’t happen the way that you thought it should have.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or who you know. There are rules to the game and if you can’t follow the rules then you shouldn’t play.