5 reasons to fold your poker ambitions

My first few years of college expenses were covered by all-night gambling sessions. This is my advice against following that path.

Reason 1: The majority lose
The rake is the reason most poker players lose money. The casinos in Winnipeg take up to a $4 rake out of every pot. You are racing against the hole in the table whilst locked in a gladiatorial battle with your opponents. You cannot merely beat the other people at your table; you need to destroy them at a breakneck pace. Sounds exciting? See reason three.

Reason 2: You do not have the bankroll
The buy-in max for the smallest no-limit game in Winnipeg’s casinos is $400. My library of poker books’ recommendations vary when it comes to the amount of money needed to compete, but most fall within the $30 to $50 buy-in range. That means if you want to play the game properly you will need a $12,000 to $20,000 bankroll. Bankroll money is not money you have access to, can borrow, or even have on hand in cash. Bankroll money must be money you do not care about. If you care about the money in your bankroll, you will lose. Most of us students do not have tens of thousands to spare.

Reason 3: You do not have enough time
Remember that library of poker books I mentioned? Poker is a subject, and if you want to win, it had better be your major. Check out the games section at a bookstore. See the shelves full of poker knowledge? If you want to be the best — if you are not the best you are going to lose — you need to read and memorize and ponder. My grades dropped off while I was gambling — not because of the time I spent at the casinos, but because I was reading Hellmuth and Vorhaus instead of Shakespeare and Mills.

Reason 4: You are too damned nice
Okay with taking a businessman’s paycheque from him? How about grandpa’s retirement money, or a welfare cheque from a mother of three? There is nothing gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) about good poker play. Yes, the pros seem as cool as 007, but you’ve got to burn your humanity out for years before you can achieve their level of disinterested speculation. Poker is about destroying others’ strategies, nothing else.

I once realized I was playing far too gently against female opponents; being the best poker player you can means fixing leaks like that. For the next week I concentrated on insulting and badgering women at the table — strangely enough this strategy was most effective at knocking males off their game. I did not act like a jerk because I had to; I did it because I did not want to.

Want is the enemy of good poker. Most of us want to be nice.

Reason 5: I am not playing right now
Reasons two and three are why I do not play at the moment. Although, any single reason would suffice.

If I were a regular at Winnipeg poker tables, I would not have written this column. The easy money that comes pouring out of university students flush with loans around this time of year is ridiculous. I am not a regular, so I will offer up this last piece of advice: whether or not you still believe you can pull off poker stardom, do your homework. Oh, and save your money until I get back in the game.