Common Poker Player Leaks
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2011-06-19, by OzoneSpending some time immersed in a room full of poker players in Las Vegas reminds one of some of the leaks common to the poker player lifestyle and worldview. Poker players can be really savvy people in a lot of ways. After all, they have managed to find a way to pay their bills over a deck of cards. But there are a lot of not-so-savvy characteristics demonstrated by a lot of poker pros. Here are some of those leaks that are commonly observed:
Overconfidence, Naivety in Investing
Successful poker players commonly take a very overconfident, naive approach to investing. This is especially true of tournament players who regularly get a taste of what it's like to get rich fast. Success in poker tends to make one expect rapid return on investment in other areas. When you can win a year's salary in a few hours work, you tend to expect all sources of income to work that way. This leads many poker players to making very thin investments with a potential for huge return. Unfortunately, as anyone in the investing world can tell you, that approach usually doesn't work. Investing is about trying to figure out a way to make 7% on your money when the market only went up 6%. It's a miserable grind, not a fast track to riches.
This same overconfidence can be seen in their approach to poker too. Every player at every poker table in the world thinks he is a good, winning player. Obviously, a majority of them are fooling themselves.
The poker player lifestyle is a pretty unhealthy one. Drug use and alcohol abuse is common. Exercise is usually passed up for another hour at the table. Greasy, processed fast food and poor nutrition is typical. Poker players really are quite an unhealthy bunch. Not having a boss to report to or a job to show up at in the morning creates opportunities to live a reckless lifestyle. And since poker players are usually huge risk takers by nature, experimenting with different states of consciousness and generally not prioritizing healthy living is, unfortunately, rather common.
Poor Planning for the Future
This leak falls under the broader category of bad bankroll management. Poker players have an extra burden on them to prepare for the future since there is no oversight entity doing it for them. People who work "regular jobs" usually have health benefits and retirement planning (like 401ks, etc). In poker, there are no health benefits or pensions. This is an important aspect that players commonly overlook when evaluating the viability of a career in poker. Making $20 an hour playing poker is really like making $14 an hour at a place that gives you health insurance, paid leave, and other employee benefits. Additionally, those people making $14 an hour are advancing their future earning potential in most cases. A poker player's future earning potential does not necessarily increase over time. Due to the nature of poker becoming more difficult over time, their earning potential often decreases.
Success in poker contributes some to laziness. This goes back to the whole "not having a job" aspect of playing poker. With no fixed schedule or working hours, poker players tend to be pretty lazy people. It's unfortunate because poker players tend to be fairly creative, innovative people from a theoretical standpoint. But when it comes to applying those observations and theories to real-world profit, they usually decide to smoke weed and play Xbox instead.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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