By: Jason Lake
The World Series of Poker is by far the most important event on the calendar. Every summer, the eyes of the poker world turn to the Rio in Las Vegas, where the best and the brightest gather to play for millions of dollars in prize money. It's become a cultural touchstone, drawing large audiences and encouraging countless people to try their hand at poker. Some of these people will go on to become pretty good at the game. They might even turn pro themselves.
At some point, if you haven't already, you might start thinking of turning pro. It's a compelling thought. Good poker players can make more money than just about any regular job can offer. They also get to set their own hours, with no commutes, suits or office politics. And of course, there's Las Vegas. And Monaco, and San Marino, and Macau. It's a good gig if you can get it.
But before you can even think about that, you need to be semi-pro, which is a good thing considering how much variance there is in poker. Use the regular income you get from your “day job” to support your bankroll while you continue learning the game. Remember Benjamin Keeline, who won the Colossus II last week? Keeline's poker career was on life support before getting a part-time job driving for Uber.
Or how about guys like Dan Shak and Talal Shakerchi? Hedge fund managers by day, poker players by night. If you're already in finance, you know the “close economy” between getting good at your job and figuring out what to do on the felt. Shak has racked up over $8.5 million in live tournament earnings; Shakerchi is at $2.6 million and counting.
Driven to Succeed
If you've been following poker for a while, you've probably heard a few disparaging comments about Shakerchi's level of play – mostly from full-time professionals. But he's quickly closed the gap between himself and the competition. And he's done it on his own dime. At last report, Shakerchi doesn't enter into staking agreements, and he doesn't sell pieces of himself. He just focuses on the poker.
Even if you don't have a job description that coincides nicely with poker, you can still follow Keeline's example. After winning the top prize of $1 million at the Colossus, Keeline says he'll continue driving for Uber. Having that source of income ensures that he'll have food on the table while he continues to develop his poker game. You could end up working 20, 40 or even 60 hours a week, and still have time for poker. A little devotion goes a long way.