I was never an online poker rock star. At the height of my online career I was mid-stakes PLO grinder on Pokerstars and FTP. The low expenses and generous player incentives made this a comfortable lifestyle for La and I, who also made her living grinding online mtts. Decent bankroll management and a few well timed live scores prior to April 15th 2011 left us in better shape than most when our virtual bankroll was frozen, but our lives were still drastically altered after our freedom to play online poker was taken away.
Our average pre Black Friday day consisted of waking up whenever, having “breakfast”, and grinding out sessions in the upstairs war room. We lived a good life in a nice house close to our friends and family in DFW. A few times a year we would travel to a deep stack tournament series for a change of pace, but the majority of our working hours were spent at home in our boxers and bathrobes. When we went on the road we would take our laptops with us. If there was no action after we busted a live event we could supplement our income with online sessions.
Dressed up for a day at the office
I used to tease my 9 to 5 friends about my “commute” from the bed to the office upstairs, “traffic was good today” I’d say and laugh. Well, karma is a son-of-a-bitch. After Black Friday we started spending more than half our year on the road. Our “commute” involves lugging 90+ pounds of luggage to an airport, catching a flight with multiple plane changes and layovers, and often ends with extra hours in a shuttle or rental car to reach our remote destinations. We then spend the next two weeks grinding out 14 hour days. Our expenses have tripled and our average “commute” takes the better part of a day each way. I’m a lil jealous of my 9 to 5 friends half hour drive to work now.
The extra expenses and extended travel schedule made keeping a 2600 sq foot house in Texas an untenable burden. It didn’t make sense to spend 2k+ a month on a house when we only spent a week or two of the average month staying there. We moved half our furniture into storage at the end of 2011 and moved into a 1300 sq foot house our friends had available. This location is much less central than our old spot, but it is closer to both the airports and much more affordable for the time we are home.
Our poker room in the old house was a casualty of Black Friday
The decision to stay in a non-poker friendly state like Texas was a tough one, but being close to our friends and family is important to us. Being able to recharge and reconnect, even a few days out of the month, has been invaluable to our motivation and sanity while following this hectic schedule. Being home also allows us to be there for loved ones. My grandfather recently passed away and our decision to stay based in Texas allowed us to be with him and my grandmother in his last days. I’m so glad we didn’t let the DOJ take away these last days together.
My Grandfather and Grandmother’s 70th anniversary
Life on the road has been tough, but there have been positives on our new journey too. Online poker can be very isolating, it’s not so bad for an introvert like me, but La is a social butterfly and needs the interaction. Through her we have met so many wonderful characters and made lots of great friends that are now part of our traveling family. From the PTC crew, the media, players, photographers, writers, and local casino staff we have been lucky to find so many special people to share our time with. We might have met only a handful of these friends if Black Friday hadn’t pushed us out the door.
Just a few of the many friends we share our time on the road with:
In addition to pushing us out the door, Black Friday made me rethink my life. Being forcefully unplugged gave me time to try new things like blogging, investing, and starting a small business. Clearly I have a long way to go with all these endeavors, but the invigorating new directions have brought more depth to a life that used to be dominated by a fairly monotonous routine.
Life on the road can be repetitive too, after awhile all the casinos start to blend together. Ultimately these trips have taught me its not where you are, but how you approach life that determines what you get out of it. Our time on the road has shown me that there is potential everywhere, and when one spot goes away there are always more to replace it for those willing to look. I hope that online poker comes back to the US in a big way, if it doesn’t though, this last year has taught me there are plenty of new games to play.