I had built a list of reasons that I'm winding down playing of poker.
I mostly wrote them out for myself, and had planned to make proper
entries and post them here. As you might guess, because my decision
was that I'd wind down my poker efforts, I have been slow to roll out
the posts that explore the reasons that I made said decision.
My first reason dealt with the changing
nature of game selection, and the second dealt with the concept
that I didn't actually start playing (nor is it worth continuing
to play) poker for the money. In this installment, I talk
about a somewhat controversial issue, which I have long called the
In my many years of playing poker, I've discovered that once you reach
“real stakes” — somewhere around $10/$20 in limit
and $2/$5 in NL/PL — the makeup of people who play settles to
a well-defined group. At the lower limits, you find all sorts of
vacationing people, friendly folks, and various people who are just
recreational players who don't spend a lot of time in the poker
world. It's even fun to meet these new people; I know that I met
some interesting characters at River
Street, for example.
But, rarely do these recreational-focused players venture up to the
middle and high limits. Once you get there, there are basically two
types of people: (a) semi-pro or pro players who are moving up in
stakes, and (b) assholes. The semi-pros/pros might be great people,
but if your goal is to be a pro yourself, you don't want your game
filled with these people. So, you're left with everyone else —
the assholes. It's a simple fact: in my experience, in these games,
with rare exceptions, everyone besides the pros are just plain jerks.
I have some theories about this.
First, it's a certain class of people who are drawn to higher stakes
gambling (BTW, if you aren't over the idea that poker isn't gambling,
you should get over it — you are a gambler even if you only
gamble (as I do) when you have the best of it). Usually, these
non-pros are going have some set of psychological problems. They
might be problem gamblers, or at least have an unhealthy relationship
with gambling. And, even if this isn't their primary defining
psychological illness, but it's likely that the series of illnesses
they have are going to make them not nice people to be around.
Such people are often rude, nasty or otherwise generally unbearable.
I've found it worse in east coast games than on the west coast, but
it's often generally true everywhere. (This might, BTW, be due to the
fact that the recreational player on the west coast gambles a bit
higher, and therefore you have to go to higher stakes for the
game-makeup to settle.)
Even if I believed (although I don't) that the point of life is to do
whatever you want, I'm not sure that what I'd want to do is
spend my time around these gamblers. Even the ones who aren't
unbearable and are instead actually somewhat funny, aren't worth being
around either. They are funny in that sad, pathetic way that makes
one sick to one's stomach to laugh with (at?) them.
So, when you see me vacationing for a weekend here or there at a
casino, you're definitely going to find me at the low-limit tables.
If I'm going to spend my time playing poker, I want to meet some
friendly people who aren't complete degenerates or pros gunning for
And, if I don't want to play higher, making myself a full-time pro
would be silly, because I can't earn enough at those jovial, friendly
games to make a real living.