Sometimes Even the Winner is a Loser

My good friend, DJ MTM, asked me to write a piece for my blog. As he asked me to write the piece he believed I had already written a story about it in the past and he just wanted to read it to reinforce the ideas. I had him explain what he was looking for and decided I would crank out something fresh. Things change and I change and I enjoy writing the modern piece and going back and looking at what I wrote about the same thing years earlier.

The concept is simple enough. Why do winning poker player go broke? Most do and the reasons are many but they generally revolve around a few basic ideas and concepts. My primary focus has always been poor planning and budgeting. My second thought is generally a lack of self-discipline. I have a newer third reason and it centers on the person’s ability to say no. These seem to be the major problems for winning poker players who end up going broke.

Planning and budgeting seems simple enough at face value. The poker player has a life of some sort and if he or she plans correctly they could have a decent quality of life. The problem is that most people become professional poker players on a whim. One of the the things they love about poker is getting away from the day to day grind of a regular office job. In getting away from the day to day grind the poker player often forgets to make all the necessary plans to have a decent life. In my experience, insurance of all kinds was neglected and just forgotten about. Along with leaving my health insurance behind I also quit taking care myself through regular checkups. Before making the jump to full time poker player it is absolutely essential that you lay out a realistic monthly budget that includes everything you need to lead a long and happy life. The first time something unplanned and unbudgeted arises it usually sinks the ship.

Lack of self discipline really means drugs and alcohol along with the party lifestyle. I live the majority of my life in a pretty disciplined and squared away professional manner. I have no drug problems and I very rarely drink. But even I struggled with self discipline on the occasions I had major poker wins. I would take my friends out and we would party it up and drink too much and by the end of the night we would have blown through several thousand dollars of what had been a good win. The blackjack pit, sports book or the strip club could all be the weakness of the poker player. I am sure clothes, shoes, cars and food could be the downfall of many. You could win all the money in the world playing poker and still go broke if you lack self control.

Winning poker players are not much different from lottery winners these days. Poker players used to sneak around in the dark shadows of the back rooms of bars and nobody really had much understanding of what they did or how they did it. Today it seems there are 50 magazines and a dozen television shows on television all glamorizing poker. The internet is full of buzz about the latest young poker whiz kid. Well I promise you with the money comes all of the hangers on and scammers who are all right there leaching away the new found riches of the poker player who doesn’t know how to so say no.

I see all three of these as major pitfalls and traps for the winning poker player. When you see a guy winning thousands of dollars every month and he ends up broke do not be surprised. Making money is very tough but hanging onto it can be even more of a challenge.


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