More Than Money: Competition in Poker Fuels Pros Negreanu, Riess

Why do you play poker?

It’s a simple question, but the answer can easily be misplaced and long forgotten as players grind the tournament circuit or click buttons at their computers.

Money is the obvious reason.

Not everyone is a winner, however, and as they say, money isn’t everything.

Some players have simply already made plenty of money from poker and need to find other motivations.

“I don’t play for the money, I don’t need money," Daniel Negreanu said. "I’m already rich!”

Daniel Negreanu

“I just love the competition. The challenge is what drives me. I would probably stop playing if that changed.

Traveling the World for Poker

Something about poker made hundreds of players from all around the world, including Negreanu, make their way to Melbourne, Australia for the 2014 WSOP APAC.

Sure, the allure of a bracelet and life-changing money is strong. However when players are asked why they play poker, it seems it’s not simply for the money.

“I think poker fulfills a lot of things in me,” Australian bracelet winner Jackie Glazier says. “It fulfills my competitive spirit and gives me an adrenaline rush.”

“I just think if I no longer enjoyed poker or was dreading coming in to play a tournament, I would just stop playing. I love what I do.”

Being the Best Motivates Riess

It makes sense that being competitive seems to be a key element of elite poker players.

It’s not hard to believe that it’s the same for Ryan Riess. This is the player who claimed he was the best in the world after winning the 2013 WSOP Main Event.

Ryan Riess

“I play for the thrill of it,” Riess says. “It’s just a very competitive game and I love that.”

“I’ve always been into sports, but I was just never good enough to play past high school. But I feel like I’m good enough to play poker at the highest level possible. It’s just simply something that I can do and it’s something that I’m really good at.”

Bracelet winners Aaron Lim and Jonathan Dimmig also talked about the competitive nature of poker, but a few other reasons came to mind when asked why they play poker.

Freedom a Huge Perk for Poker Professionals

For Lim it's the lifestyle behind poker that drew him into the game.

“It’s all about freedom,” Lim said. “Not being tied down to one place, not having a boss.”

Jonathan Dimmig

It is likely Lim’s sentiment is shared by numerous poker players.

There aren’t many professions where you can travel to exotic places, spend as much time as you like seeing the sights and pick your own work hours.

You don’t even have to live in one place for any set amount of time. You can live anywhere in the world and still work at your profession.

Poker is very unique in that way, so it’s no surprise that so many players have been professional players for countless decades.

Some would argue that poker is a grind and there’s no doubt that on occasions it is. Players certainly do get burnt out, but at the end of the day, you are your own boss and can take a break whenever you want.

There is also the argument that poker should never burn you out. After all, every tournament is a new adventure and it’s likely that you will meet new and unique people at every event.

That’s what’s important to Dimmig.

“I think for me it’s about the people,” Dimmig added. “It’s fun to play this game with so many different people. You are trying to beat them, but you’re having a good time while you are doing it.”

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