A Thank You to Poker

Today is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States and as such, I thought I would take this moment to reflect on what I am thankful for this holiday season, using poker as a backdrop. I may have written one of these types of articles a few years ago, but my family spent last night with friends who had us all go around the table and talk about what we were thankful for, something I don’t generally do myself. That got me thinking about this, so I figured the news could wait.

I won’t go so far as to say poker “saved” me – that would be overly melodramatic and, frankly, not true – but poker did give me a chance to live my life more fully than I probably would have had I taken the other fork in the road.

In 2004, I earned my MBA from Emory University in Atlanta and landed a job shortly after graduation with a small consulting firm. I had previously been in IT consulting and didn’t particularly want to be a consultant again (though this was a different kind of consulting), but at that point, I wanted a job, so there I was. As it turned out, the company was trash. I knew it was fairly small, but they lied to me about how many people they had on staff; they said 130, but the number was actually six plus one contractor. One of those people was always away on a long-term project, one was a Senior VP who was more of a business-winner than someone who actually did the consulting work, and one was the president of the company, who was a scam artist and a tyrant.

The upshot of all that was that the three or four of us who actually did the consulting were astoundingly overworked. After two months, I was installed as project manager (good!) on two simultaneous projects (bad!). I was still learning on the fly, which made it hard enough – though I am always up for a challenge – but the biggest problem was that I was literally the only one working on these two projects. In a normal company, I would be managing them and would have a staff of consultants working with me. It was virtually impossible to do the job properly; I got to the point where I found myself lying to clients about “our” progress. Time away from the job was difficult to enjoy, as I would spend the weekend dreading going back to work.

Eventually, enough was enough, so I quit. In the meantime, I had discovered online poker and had gotten to know people on the message forum of an online poker affiliate. After I quit, the founder of the site, whom I had gotten to know, said he wanted to start a poker news site (not this one) and wanted to hire me to help run it. I dove in head first.

It has now been 11-plus years in the poker industry for me, most of it writing poker news or other content of some sort. And while a different career path may have enhanced my LinkedIn profile and made me much more money, I can’t be thankful enough for what poker has done for my life. Because of poker, I have been able to be home for the entirety of my kids’ lives to date; having the opportunity to stay home and take care of them, with all the diaper changing, tushy wiping, and chauffeuring back and forth to after school activities that entails. I have been able to have family dinners every night, tuck my kids in without relying on Skype from a hotel room, and spend time with my wife. No, I’m not rich, but my days are immeasurably better because of what poker has done for me.

I am thankful for everyone in this industry who has thought enough of me to have me write for their sites, including Mike, Jay, and Peter who gave me my start; for Ian and Paudie who brought me onboard to Flushdraw and Kate and Lukas who I have more recently gotten to know. I am thankful for the opportunity to have Haley Hintze as a colleague – I admired her work before I arrived here and am thankful that she likes to write about mind-twisting legal issues so that I don’t have to.

Poker has introduced me to so many fascinating people. For me to think, when I was just a poker fan, that I would end up talking to and working with all the wonderful personalities that I have – especially the couple years I covered the WSOP – would have been a silly idea. Corporate consulting has got nothing on poker.

So once again, thank you, poker, for giving me the opportunity to be a better father and husband, for making me a more intelligent person (oh, be quiet), and letting me be a part of such an incredible, diverse, and enlightening community.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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