I haven't played poker at all this month. Basically, I've quit. I
have more to write about regarding my reasons, and I will. I've won
about $20,000 already this year, and assuming that Cake Poker actually pays me
(they are having huge delays in processing cashout checks; I've been
waiting since mid-February), that will be a win comparable to my best
years in the past. Why play anymore when I have better things to
That said, I'm still going to have my monthly home game, because the
usual group are enjoyable people (not the annoying fish you have to
put up with at casino and online tables). I've just sent an
announcement for this Saturday.
I did my taxes. I
read Ann-Margaret Johnston's book, How to Turn Your Poker
Playing into a Business. I recommend this book if the
whole Schedule A vs. Schedule C issue still confuses you or if
you've never filed one or the other. For those who have studied
this issue, it doesn't give any new information.
The only piece that it made clearer to me is why everyone is so touchy
about this full-time vs. part-time idea. There is one single court
case, once, about a professional gambler, that jhazen has
previously quoted in my journal:
if one's gambling activity is
pursued full time, in good faith, and with regularity, to the
production of income for a livelihood, and is not a mere hobby, it is
a trade or business within the meaning of the statutes with which we
are here concerned.
Added with Johnston's arguments that the IRS gets very suspicious of a
Schedule C for any activity that seems fun, this probably accounts for
the constant “not full-time” paranoia around the poker
world. I believe that this is one court case, and therefore just one
criteria among so many. Johnston herself argues that there are lots
of criteria considered by the IRS. Frankly, when I'm playing more
than, say, 3 hours of poker a week, I enjoy my day job more than I
enjoy the poker, so if the IRS wants to see “toil” to
believe it's not a hobby, I'll tell them under oath how boring the
whole thing is.
Finally, I should note that I nearly had a losing year in poker in
2006. My net profit was a paltry $94.73, as my expenses were
somewhat high ($2,105.73). Still, this is much less than I won in
2005. I had forgotten than in January 2006, I was still playing limit
regularly at the $15/$30 level and had a bad 200 big-bet loss weekend.
So, given that I had to dig out of that hole all year, I am fortunate
that I had a win. It certainly didn't help that I spent most of the
late summer and fall playing extremely low stakes, wasting time in
tiny home games and very small stakes online, too. There's hours of
my life I'll never get back.