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Respecting Money


The more poker you play and the higher stakes you get into, the less you'll respect the value of a dollar.

After enough play, the value of money becomes moot. I remember before I ever played poker for real money, looking at a restaurant menu and thinking that there was no way I could justify paying $12 for a burger. A few years have passed, and now I'm known to leave $20 tips for $30 meals.

I've been out with friends and, while looking for my phone or rooting through my pockets for some other reason, have pulled out my roll.

People will say you're crazy for carrying around a few thousand dollars in cash ... what if you get robbed?

Most people never carry that much money at one time, and it goes without saying that a normal person can't even comprehend the idea of losing it all in one session of poker. But if you're playing $10/$25 No-Limit, losing $3,000 only counts as a marginally bad day.

Antonio Esfandiari has been known to be quite the baller.

The amount of money that pro players view as being an acceptable loss for a session of poker can be more than a normal person will make in a couple months of honest work.

Don't be mistaken: They are normal. We are the ones who are mixed up. This detachment from the true value of money is what allows them to play poker at a high level. You can't be thinking about how many months' rent the last bet was.

The concept of the value of money is meaningless on a poker table. If you are playing properly inside your roll, you can afford to lose everything in front of you. So the only thing you need to worry about is if you're putting your money in when you have the best of it. You have to leave the real world at the door.

When you get off that table, though, you need to find a way to achieve a normal perspective again. If you're grinding low-stakes poker for a living averaging $20 an hour, you're making more than enough money to live - provided you manage your expenses carefully.

You simply cannot afford to take that cavalier view of money from the table to your life. At this pay rate, you can't afford to be buying a brand-new 61" plasma. Even though you have $5,000 in cash in your pocket, you have to realize that you're only making $20 an hour.

Your lifestyle should reflect your average hourly wage, not your cash in hand.

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