Ditching High School to Play Poker

When I was 18, I thought I was going to become a professional poker player.

This was in 2004…

Which is the year after Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event…

And started a huge poker craze that swept the world.

Suddenly, poker was all over television…

The World Poker Tour launched…

And all of these poker players became celebrities and household names.

I LOVED it.

I was obsessed with poker…

I bought dozens of books on poker strategy and read them all…

And I would go play every chance I’d get.

On Mondays and Fridays during my senior year of high school, I had lunch, then a free period, then astronomy (which was a class you could easily ditch).

So I would leave school at the start of lunch…

Drive to one of the Indian Casinos (about thirty-minutes away)…

Play poker for about an hour-and-a-half…

Then make it back to school in time for the last class of the day.

And, that was just during school hours.

Every weekday…

I’d come home from school at around 3 pm…

Take a two-hour nap…

Wake up, drink a cup of coffee, and have dinner with my parents…

Then drive to the Barona Indian Casino at around 6 pm…

And play until 9 pm or 10 pm.

Sounds kind of nuts, but this was a very happy time in my life.

I treasured those thirty-minute drives to the casino each night…

I’d listen to new albums from start to finish…

And my mind would wander all over the place, as I dreamed of the future and wondered what it held in store.

As for the poker itself…

I had a pretty hard rule…

Which was that I’d play until I’d either won $200 or I’d lost $200.

The vast majority of the time I won…

Especially because, back then, poker was so popular that you had all of these inexperienced people coming into the card room…

Wanting to “give this poker thing a try“…

And so, by virtue of just knowing what you were doing…

It was hard to lose.

(One time I cleaned out the local TV News Anchor and he cussed about me being some 18 year old kid. Another time Joe Pesci was at my table –I didn’t get in any big hands with him, but at least back then he wasn’t all that good).

But even when I did get a “bad beat” and lost money…

I wouldn’t chase the loss…

I’d just get up and walk away.

The end result of all this, was that by the time I graduated high school…

I’d set up a second checking account at Bank of America that was only for my poker winnings…

And it had something like $7,000 in it.

Part of the reason I’m sharing all of this is simply because it’s fun to reminisce…

But I do also think there are a few lessons you can take from my story too:

  1. The best way to get really good at something is to become obsessed with it. From the time I was 17, I began devouring every single poker book I could get my hands on. While my friends were off getting high in parking lots during the weekend, I was studying poker or playing. As a result, I pretty much always beat my friends. But, I also almost pretty much always beat strangers too. I give copywriters this advice all the time: if you want to be a legendary copywriter, then become obsessed with being the best at your craft. Don’t worry about money or notoriety. Worry about being the best. If you’re better than everyone else, the rest will follow.
  1. Good habits are so valuable. I think one of the main reasons I was so successful with playing poker that year was my two-hour nap. It sounds kind of funny for a high school senior to be obsessed with his nap. But it made a huge difference to me. I always woke up feeling well rested, and I think that gave me a boost of mental energy which then carried over to the poker table at night.
  2. Have a system. I wrote about systems a few emails back. But it’s worth noting that I had a system when it came to how I approached wins and losses. My $200 rule. It served me really well. Sometimes I’d go to the card room with friends and see them chase their losses. They’d end up losing $800, or $1,000, and then be legitimately broke. I never got in a situation like that because I stuck to my system. The upside was limited for sure, but so was the downside. And for me, at that time in my life where I couldn’t afford to take any “big” losses – it made a lot of sense.
  3. We all have our own definitions of happiness. What I did my senior year of high school was not very traditional. Some of my friends thought it was weird. I’d be at a kegger, then cut out after an hour to go play cards. Some people didn’t get it, but playing poker was when I was happiest. So, I’m proud of my 18-year-old-self for not trying to conform to other people’s standards of happiness, but instead following my own.
  4. The importance of having something you love in your life. My senior year of high school I’d still go to parties, have beers with friends, and all that stuff. But in general, having poker in my life kept me out of a lot of trouble. I didn’t over-drink, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t get into fights, I didn’t engage in super risky behavior. I had something meaningful in my life, and that kept me focused.

Contrast this to after I graduated high school and went to college in Boulder, Colorado. Suddenly, I didn’t have poker and I was getting stoned all day long, drinking all day long, flunking classes, and feeling miserable (I dropped out after a semester). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that once I became disconnected from my biggest hobby/passion, I also became disconnected from life in general and was unhappy.

Okay, that’s about it on poker for now.

As usual, I’m going to be going to get Eden up pretty soon…

We’re starting potty training with her today…

Which apparently means her running around naked and shitting all over the floors until she figures out how a toilet works.

So, that’ll be fun.

Other than that…

I’ll be watching playoff football, too…

And just so you know, I’m a HUGE Eagles fan today.

Why?

I own a small percentage of a Sports Agency called Dynamic Sports Group

And one of our players is a guy named Boston Scott, who is a Running Back for the Eagles.

Boston started the year on the Eagle’s practice squad…

But, due to a series of injuries to other running backs…

He eventually got brought onto the active roster…

And then, last week he started for the Eagles in a do-or-die game…

Where if they won, they made the playoffs, and if they lost their season was done.

Well, Boston went OFF…

He almost single-handedly won the game for the Eagles…

And he was even awarded the NFC Player of the Week Award…

Which is the first time one of our athletes has ever gotten that.

I’m really excited for Boston…

And, if you happen to watch the game today…

Feel free to cheer extra hard for him too.

– SPG

P.S. My bet on the Patriots yesterday didn’t work out. But I did have an awesome day. The Golden Knights game was a blast (we won in overtime), and dinner at Twist was delicious. The Chef was actually in the restaurant (he has multiple 3 Michelin Star Restaurants in Europe and he’s usually overseas), so we got to briefly meet him which was really special. And, what was even more special was getting to spend all of that quality time with Laura. I'm pretty damn lucky to be able to say that my wife is also my best friend!

P.P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

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Stefan Georgi

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