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Would You Want Your Kid to Be a Poker Pro? 6 Pros Answer
The news that Tony G is now a parent has triggered a cacophony of thoughts about the impressions we make on our children’s lives through our choice of career.
Will little Tauras Guoga follow the path of least resistance and become a poker player like her father once was? Will she become the next Lithuanian President?
According to a recent Facebook study of 5.6 million parent-child pairings in English-speaking countries, the data shows that Baby G is more likely to follow in her Daddy's footsteps and choose a career that is similar to her father's.
Although the statistics didn't reveal either poker or politics as a common choice of career, it did show that if your dad was in the military you're 5x more likely to join. If your mother is a nurse you're 4x more likely to join the medical industry.
From the Genes of Stars Today?
Our influence on our children is undeniable. It's our values and beliefs that form the core part of their operating system as they develop in the younger years.
Values and beliefs that are very often locked away in a safe and forgotten about until you are forced to find the combination lock by a therapist some 30 years later.
And in a world where a man in his 70s, with zero political experience and seriously questionable morals can become the President of the most powerful country in the world - anything is possible.
So does this mean that our professional poker players of tomorrow will come from the genes of the stars of today?
What do our stars think of their children becoming the next Phil Ivey?
Answer Always the Same
I sought the opinions of six professional poker players. I asked them if they would want their children to follow in their footsteps.
The overwhelming response was in the negative. It wasn't a surprise. Over the years I have asked this question many times and the answer always comes back the same.
No. But why?
1. The Casino Environment
One of the common reasons pro poker players want their kids to avoid taking up poker is the vast amount of time spent in a casino.
Says former World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year (POY), Mike Gorodinsky:
"I would discourage any children of mine from trying to make poker their profession. It's ultimately only self-serving and requires a lot of time spent in casinos, which are pretty unsavoury places with a lot of one-dimensional people."
If you take heed of the advice that Jim Rohn passes out, you will become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So Mike has a point.
It's tough to split professional poker playing from other forms of gambling -- particularly when your environment is designed to get your dopamine receptors thrashing about like a baby penguin searching for a regurgitated piece of fish.
Gambling is not a bad thing, if controlled; however a casino environment is designed to loosen that illusion of control.
2. Poker is Self-Serving
Mike also spoke about poker being ‘self-serving' and this is the biggest reason I've found as a big no-no for the parent-child career model being a good thing in poker.
Poker does show a willingness to serve others. Raising for Effective Giving (REG) is an excellent example of this.
However, if you want to take up a profession that enables you to reduce suffering in the world and you're just starting out in life, poker will never blip onto the radar.
3. Poker Can Be Like Quicksand
WSOP bracelet winner Andrew Barber is a man who has turned poker into a vehicle for good by becoming an effective altruist. He donates a percentage of his profit to reduce suffering in the world. Would Barber want his children to follow his lead?
"I would never encourage my child to take up professional poker, but would expose them to the game. It has taught me so much, but I see so many pros getting 'stuck' in the profession to their detriment."
You leave school and prepare to flee the nest. You want to earn money. A friend offers you a job in a small accountancy firm.
You take it, telling yourself that one day you will find a better job - one that fulfils your true desires. 40 years later you're having drinks at a bar and someone asks you what you do for a living.
“I am an Accountant.”
We become our jobs. I see this in poker more than any other profession.
The rest of the world doesn't see poker as a career. It's difficult to get a credit rating; almost impossible to buy or rent a house. And it's incredibly difficult to create a CV to get a ‘real' job - all of which leads you into the quicksand.
The poker community is also unique. If you choose to stop playing poker then very probably you have to stop travelling to the same places your friends hang out. It's a tough decision.
And don't even get me started on ego. Poker players all have a big slice of this pie and it's one of the primary reasons people can't swallow their pride, quit, and find something more meaningful to do with their lives.
4. Poker is Time Consuming
Former World Poker Tour (WPT) Player of the Year Anthony Zinno wouldn't want his children to play poker professionally, either. He points to the investment of 'time' being one of his primary concerns.
"I won't be encouraging my future children to pursue *Professional* Poker. Despite the fact that I'll play strategy games with them for fun (like play chips for example), I'll draw the line when it comes to promoting poker as a primary source of financial security.
"It's far too time-consuming, emotionally draining and difficult to maintain a healthy life balance."
Zinno makes a valuable point. The primary reason people play poker is to make money. But money isn't the most valuable commodity in life - it's time.
If you're playing poker 12 hours a day, is that the best use of your day? What else could you be doing?
5. Poker is Tough
Here's what the multiple WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche has to say about the subject:
"I don't think I'd be encouraging my son to become a professional poker player. Even now it's too late for anyone to pick up the game and become a complete crusher making $500k+/year in EV.
"The time where poker was a gold mine is over, unfortunately. I'm sure there are better ways to make more money more quickly in this day and age just starting out.
"However things may change, and if poker is still relatively easy by the time my kids are old enough, I might change my mind. That is extremely unlikely though in my opinion."
Back to Gorodinsky:
"The old cliche does ring true in poker - it's a very hard way to make an easy living."
I don’t share the same view as Nitsche and Gorodinsky. I take the Donald Trump school of thought that you can become successful at anything you put your mind to, physical limitations exempt.
When I place poker on the ‘hardness' scale of chosen careers it's far closer to the easier side of the scale. Think about all the stressful jobs in the world our children could be doing and then compare them with poker?
Your Horizons Are Your Child's Horizons
Although the poker players polled believe Baby G should give professional poker a wide berth, they all wanted their children to learn to play poker so they could benefit from the best parts of the game.
Gorodinsky said he would encourage his 'kids to play poker and similar games as a hobby to gain a thirst for game theory, competition and psychology.'
Zinno said that teaching his children poker is 'good for the brain.' Barber reflected that the game had taught him so much. Nitsche echoed that sentiment when he spoke of the 'life skills' learned through poker.
William Martin, the author of The Parent's Tao Te Ching, believes that ‘it's very difficult for your child's horizons to be broader than your own.' I agree with this.
I fight very hard to change my operating system programmed a long time ago by my parents and societal norms. I focus very hard on ensuring that the choices I make today regarding my career can be used as a guiding light for my children.
It makes me wonder this:
Why do poker players choose to spend the majority of their time on this earth sitting down and playing a game that they wouldn’t want their children to play when the evidence suggests that by doing so their children are statistically more likely to follow suit?
What do you think?