This is the transcript, chapter 6 of 6, for the PaceMakesTheRace Podcast: Interview With The Gambler, which originally published in 2012!
The Pro Gambler’s identity is restricted to us knowing his name is Jeff. This is really great information for today. We trust you will enjoy this series of transcript blogs!
- Getting to Know the Gambler.
- Handling Pressure.
- Cushion & Coaching.
- A Master-Mind Group.
- More about Coaching.
- Becoming a Winner.
Chapter 6: Becoming a Winner.
Dave: That is part of our world that has changed. I am sure you have the same thing. How would you define the process of becoming a winner, is there anything you can add about that?
Jeff: I would say the biggest part about becoming a winner falls under the mental aspect.
I am not going to pretend that I understand the exact mathematics of every play in poker better than everyone else at the table. I am sure there are math whizzes who are worlds beyond me in understanding that.
You can say the same thing about horse racing. There are guys who have the percentages nailed down to such a tight range that most people will never get there. To play like a winner, to some degree, it is an innate understanding of things.
You develop a feel for when something is a good bet or something is a good move. That is almost intangible. It is hard to put into words. I do think that is something that comes with experience. The more you are exposed to certain situations you start to pick up on favorable spots. You might not be able to put into words why it is a favorable spot, but by being exposed to it so often you just know that it is.
You do not want a coach who just says that, like me. You will just know when the situation is right. You want to find a coach who can articulate why a situation is right. Then as you are exposed to it more and more you get that innate understanding on, almost a subconscious level, of that being the right situation for you to get involved with.
Whether it is deciding to play a hand in poker, deciding to re-race, deciding to shove it all in. Or even though on paper a certain horse looks great, but in the race you kind of have this feeling of I think I should skip this.
Dave: I agree with you. Was there a point in time when you just simply decided you were going to be a winner if there was no other alternative?
Jeff: Yeah when I decided to do it full time.
Dave: Did that change you, were you different before that?
Jeff: Different how?
Dave: Was there a difference? To me winning has always been important. There was a time back in the 90’s when I could not beat the game. After the buyer number became very prolific, it was in all the newspapers and everything.
It really threw my game off and I did not make a bet for three and a half years. If I cannot win I do not want to play. But there is a point in time when you say this is business it is not fun, it is my business. Was there a transition like that for you?
Jeff: Yeah. Anyone who has gone to a casino and played the low limit tables in Vegas.
Dave: What do you call low limit?
Jeff: Two five and below.
You know that there are probably seven out of ten people who are there just to have a good time. What that means is they did not go on a vacation to Vegas to hold marginal hands. They want to see flops, they want to play.
Dave: “I came to play I am here to stay.”
It is the same thing at the track, if you go and take some friends who are not horse players, your friends are betting every single race. They are here to have fun and a good time and folding is not fun. Passing a race is not fun. When you decide “I am going to make money at this” that means you pass up a lot of those marginal situations because it is not favorable for your long term winning prospects.
Dave: Is that not the ultimate difference between winning and losing?
Jeff: Yes it absolutely is.
Dave: Is there a point when good enough is good enough? Do you have to be the best or do you have to be good enough to be professional, support your family, make it a living?
Jeff: Do I want to be the very best? Of course. If I did not I would probably be better off getting a regular job.
On the other hand I separate it from what I am doing on a daily basis. I am grinding it away paying the bills. While I have my long term goals of improving and I work on improving every day, my short term goals are to make the money.
Win enough on a daily basis to where I am not sweating the bills three months from now. I think if I were to say okay I am good enough I do not have to work at getting better anymore, the game will pass me by.
Dave: Is it really a viable choice, gambling for a man with a family and responsibilities? Obviously it is for you but is it a really viable choice for very many others or does it take a very special kind of person?
Jeff: I would say instead of just a kind of person it takes a special kind of circumstances. That means having the people around you that really matter in that decision and support that decision and get behind it.
If you were trying to gamble full time and your wife was dead set against it she would love it while you were making money. Then when you have that bad month that you are inevitably going to have where does that leave you? You are not in good shape at that point.
Dave: In laws could play a part too. I would imagine there are dynamics in a family relationship that could make it very difficult to succeed at that. Of course just like there are in laws that will interfere with you starting a business of any kind.
Jeff: I would say that is probably a good parallel. Owning a business is not for everyone.
You have to be a risk taker to open a business because there is a good chance that you fail. If you fail what are you left with? Do you have a cushion to survive after everything you put into your business disappears?
I would say in that sense it is not that different than gambling. Gambling is where your talent is which is something you can also develop. I am not saying if you are not a winning player today that means you will never be a winning player. No one starts out as a winner right away.
Dave: That is great advice. How did you get your wife onboard with this?
Jeff: She got me onboard!
We were sitting home on a Sunday night a couple years ago Sixty Minutes did a piece on Billy Walters. At this point we had opened our business, which had done well for a couple years, and was now just a crater.
I was incredibly stressed. I was a miserable person to be around. I am trying to juggle everything, find ways to keep everything going and nothing is going right. I am getting so frustrated. I am starting to make bad decisions at the business, which is only making the situation worse. It might have been different if I had a mental game coach for business at that point.
Sixty Minutes did a piece on Billy Walters and we watched it, and I just thought Wow, that is really interesting and it is pretty cool that they did that.
When it is over my wife looks over at me and says We made more money and we were a lot happier when you gambled. Why not start gambling again? I looked at her and I am like, Is my wife really saying that to me?
It was not instantaneous, it is not like I closed the business the next day. What guy, when their wife says that, is not going to start exploring alternatives? I started playing a little bit more, little bit more poker. Then the next thing I knew I was doing a lot better playing poker than I was doing anything else. When I said to her I think this is what I want to do, I think we can live better and here is why she said okay.
Dave: That is awesome. How do you suggest that someone transition from being an amateur at something to professional play?
Is it like the logical progression you lose a lot then you lose a little, then you break even then you win a little, win more then turn pro? Or is it different than that?
Jeff: To a certain degree is probably just like that. Most people just go from lose a lot to lose a little and stop there. I would say the reason people stop there is they are not actively trying to improve. That applies to poker, horse racing or anything.
Dave: Or making it to the major leagues.
Jeff: Or moving up the ladder in your company.
If you are working at a regular job and it is not lose a little, you get paid a little, you get paid a little more, you get to the middle and most people stop there at the middle.
There could be good reasons for it, people could just be happy where they are and there is nothing wrong with that. They are perfectly content with what they have and they want to pursue other interests outside of work.
It is the same thing with gambling. If you are content with what you have and you are a recreational gambler that goes on the weekend; and one weekend you are up and one weekend you are down and you are happy with that then that is great.
If you have the fire inside, that desire to do more I would say actively seek ways to improve. I am not going to say it is an easy way to live.
Dave: But it is rewarding for you?
Jeff: It is incredibly rewarding.
But you have to understand the ups and downs of it. I can tell you my last trip I played, because what I do is three weeks out of the month I play cash games. I am grinding away at the cash games to get the money to pay my bills..
Dave: Is that local?
Jeff: Yes. I am grinding away, getting that money to pay my bills.
One week a month I go and play tournaments and that is a relatively new thing for me, in the last nine months, where I have started to go after tournaments. The reason is simple there is life changing money at the bigger poker tournaments.
I am not talking just the $10,000 main event at the World Series. If you win $1,000 event at the World Series of Poker you are getting $600,000. To me that would be a very significant sum of money to put towards my bank roll and put the rest of it towards investments in other things outside of what I am doing.
One week a month now, I am flying out of town, going and playing tournaments $1,000 and up buy ins and really pushing myself. Because the best players in the world playing at those level tournaments. Going from the cash games where I am pretty confident that I am the best one at the table, to going to these tournaments where I am not the best one at the table.
I am improving quickly because I am learning everything I do and I am adapting. I think a lot of people do not learn to adapt and that is one advantage that I have.
Like I said it is chasing the life changing money but that is not what I am doing on a daily basis.
Dave: That is a great way to describe it, what you are describing is the life of a happy man.
Jeff: I am. Here is where it is rough, my last trip that I took I was gone for a week, I never had a losing trip on tournaments before because I will mix in cash games while I am doing it. So every time I have come home with a little bit of money, a lot of money, somewhere in between.
This past trip I played hands down the best poker of my life, the other players at the table.. it was like I was reading an open book. I was seeing things, making all the right decisions and for a week straight I was on the wrong side of luck. I came home down a significant amount of money. And I played the best I ever did!
Dave: That is amazing. I think it is a successful winner that can look at a losing session and come home not demoralized. If you are a professional golfer or tennis player there is only the one player that wins the tournament.
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