Two nights ago I raised pre-flop, everybody folded, and the dealer pushed me the blinds, five black chips. $500. I look at Justin Young and ask, do you remember when $500 was a big win? He kind of chuckles, as do I, and we both ponder for a moment. It’s interesting how that changes, the sum of dollars we’re comfortable winning or losing, or the sum that gets us excited or hurt, Justin says. It just keeps getting… sicker? Yeah, I wanted to say worse, but it’s not worse, it’s just, yeah. Sicker.
The first time I played at the Bellagio was a couple of days after my 21st birthday in 2002. I played 4-8 limit hold’em and won $500. I felt like king of the world. A decade later I stroll into the Bellagio, can’t find any game big enough to interest me, can’t afford to play in the $500-1k HA game, say hello to Ben and Chance and Doyle and Frank playing in the game, and then go next door to play $300-600 mixed games.
I can distinctly remember the first time I played $30-60. I called Moosh in Colorado and said I was freaked out because it was such a big game.
It blows my mind how much I’ve learned about poker and life in the last decade. Variance is a beast that I still don’t fully understand, but I was a river card away from retiring in 2008. It’s still tickles me that I’ve been able to perform my profession live on ESPN. I can remember watching the first WPT episode on a TV above a poker table in Cripple Creek, Colorado. I didn’t think televised poker had a chance, and bet my friend that it wouldn’t exist a year later. Best $100 I ever lost.
So much has happened in the past decade. I can’t help but wonder what the next one is going to look like for poker. We’re still awfully new, having been mainstream for less time than the UFC. A couple of blogs were published recently about carrying this game forward into the next era of poker looming over the next ridge.
Matt Glantz wrote Responsibility in Poker geared toward young professionals and our responsibilities as ambassadors of this game. Phil Galfond wrote a blog (Edit: Cashed link is here) about some changes that need to be made to the online poker world and how we’re in a spot to do things right from the start with the rebirth of online poker in America. Both are excellent. Both revolve around the idea that as professionals we must act professional if we wish to keep our jobs. We must always be welcoming and accommodating to new money coming into the game and remember that part of our job is being an entertainer. If Joe Tourist goes to a show and it sucks, he’s not going to pay $100 to see it again.
It’s not that hard to do really. Be good to people. Don’t berate anybody ever. You really don’t need to talk about poker ever. There’s no reason to ever do anything that will either make them less likely to play or more likely to play better. Be a humble winner and a happy loser. Be fair. Be honest. Do what you say your’re going to do. Pay your debts promptly. Smile.
I enjoy imagining what poker might look like in ten years. Perhaps it will look something like the Starcraft phenomenon in Korea. Or maybe there will be franchises. Team SMD trades Kevin Saul to Team Lindgren for Chris Bell and one season’s worth of football picks. Maybe franchises will develop around domestic online sites. Maybe not much will happen, and everybody will love PLO in ten years. Whatever happens, I’m excited to be a part of it, and am looking forward to the new year.
Peace and good luck,