26/01/2012

Broke Living

Lee Davy

I once racked up nearly £50,000 in gambling debts and it all started when I found PartyPoker. I had just stumbled upon online poker and while I was playing some small stakes MTT’s they introduced some alternative gaming options (incase you got bored while playing 12-tables of poker). One of the games they introduced was the highly addictive Guess the Colour of the Next Card game. After NEVER being able to guess the right colour, I ended up doing my nuts, before wandering off and finding Betfair. When I got bored losing at the tables on Betfair I would wander onto the betting exchanges. Meeting the betting exchanges was like coming home from work and finding a different stocking clad woman on your bed each night saying things like, “I taste of peaches and cream come and have a lick.”

I Just Couldn't Say No!

Eventually, I realised that gambling controlled my life and so I quit with one exception - I still continued to play poker. When I told the muggles that I had given up gambling - but still played poker - they would tell me that I was full of shit. In the eyes of the muggles, poker was just another way of dumping your wages down the shitter. I remember spewing the celebrity names of the world of poker out of my mouth in defence of the great art of the game. I remember delivering those lines with such aplomb I think I even believed my own bullshit.

When I starting working in the poker industry I realised that the muggles were right all along. The majority of people who are symbiotic with the poker industry are nothing but degenerate gambling addicts. Sure there is the odd former Grand Master Chess champion who won the first ever EPT, WPT or WSOP event that he or she attended; arming them with a few hundred thousand spare dollars. But for the majority of the players they are all complete and utter gambling addicts. What you usually find with gambling addicts is they have multiple addictions. I have seen poker players addicted to hookers, addicted to posh restaurants, addicted to smoking more weed than Bob Marley, addicted to alcohol and during the summer in Vegas even found someone addicted to drinking red bull!

But The Biggest Problem Poker Players Have Is Their Addiction To Poker And The Poker Circus!

The poker circuit is one big addiction. It only takes one tournament to get you hooked and you cannot wriggle free. Poker gets in deep. I was flying into the inaugural EPT in Greece when I read a magazine article about Jean Robert Bellande. The article was a quasi-interview/player profile where Bellande talked about living the life of a millionaire despite having as much money as Steptoe and Son. Jean Robert Bellande has built an image around his broke living story, but it isn’t anything special, and in fact his story is totally unremarkable because everyone in this industry leads exactly the same life. In fact I probably have more money in my bank account, through live reporting and magazine writing, than half of the EPT, WPT and WSOP champions. Even Bellande himself said that he only saw $10,000 of his $200,000 WSOP winnings. I quote,” he was staked for each event so it ate up most of his winnings.” What $190,000 of it? You class that as part of his winnings? Are you having a giraffe?

I think the person who takes a job in order to live - that is to say, for the money - has turned himself into a slave - Joseph Campbell

I was working at the recent WSOPE festival in Cannes when I stumbled across a new face. The unnamed pro was looking good in one of the events when I decided to Bok him by saying he would win the event. I did some research (meaning I typed his name into the Hendon Mob) and realised that he had some decent results. I decided to ask a fellow pro what he knew about him and he told me that he was in heavy make up. Now to me heavy make up is the stuff that women slap on their mush in order to lull you into a false sense of security. So I asked.

“What exactly does heavy make up mean?”

“He has lost $850,00 of his backers money,” came the response.

In the aftermath of this conversation I learn that $850,000 of make up is not uncommon and there are some people whose sums of make up dwarf even that. We are not talking of the ilk of Jean Robert Bellande here either. We are talking about some of the most glittering names in the game of poker. What makes this situation even more bizarre is the fact that the $850,000 is not even owed money. Instead it is just an investment gone wrong. They might has well have handed their money to Nick Leeson. Then comes the best bit. When the make up becomes too much for the backer they just let them go. Yes, apparently $850,000 is not too much for one particular backer!

They Just Let Them Go!

Bon voyage! Off you go! You were a tad unlucky chap; variance is a fucker, better luck next time!

Next Time?

Who is going to back them knowing that they have just lost someone $850,000? In poker it seems there is always someone willing to back anyone. Poker players must convince themselves that it is variance that causes these huge downswings in order to keep on playing. There is a modicum of truth in this as well, but at what point does a bad investment become a really bad investment? In a way, backing in poker is a little like football management. A manager like Avram Grant gets hired by a premiership football team and is responsible for their relegation. His reward? Another premiership club hires him.

The other thing that really winds me up with make up is the onus is squarely on the backer. Why would the player being backed give a monkey’s spunk if he were $850,000 in make up? It’s not going to cost him anything so why should he care? Having a conscience is one thing but they don’t cost $850,000. Maybe you believe that this amount is at the high end of the spectrum. What about $40-100k then? These make up spots are more common that the escorts at EPT San Remo.

A lot of people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job - Zig Ziglar

It’s easy to live your life like a millionaire if people are stupid enough to keep giving you free money. I am not criticising people like Jean Robert Bellande, and in fact there is talent in the ability to con people into giving you these large sums of green. Every circus needs a tightrope act and the poker circus has plenty of people auditioning for these coveted spots.

Oprah Winfrey once said that you know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it. I used to think that poker players had visions of grandeur hidden somewhere in their locker. I mean who on earth plays poker for nothing? Then I realised, that the majority of the poker circus must be Oprah fans because they do in fact work without ever receiving a cent.

Everyone in the poker circus is broke living.

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