October 24, 2021
If I have to read one more article about some clown winning some chips and then declaring himself a “professional poker player,” I’m gonna go completely on tilt. I hear and read so much crap about this subject, I’ve just got to put my two cents worth in. My two cents worth is this: You aren’t a professional poker player and you never will be, and neither is anybody else, and nor will they ever be. Am I making myself clear? Do you feel me?
Professional poker players are about as ubiquitous on the American landscape as flying saucers, Big Foots, and verifiable Elvis sightings. The very idea of a professional poker player is some kind of fanciful notion by somebody who got on a roll and won some money, and then romanticized it into a deluded self-image of “professional poker player.” Half the Tom, Dick, and Harry’s in the world who get on a little run while the card gods are smiling on them take this as a sure indication that they are now professional gamblers. These are the guys that don’t have a job and can’t get one; that hang around poker rooms because hanging out on the street for a comparable number of hours is loitering; that come to the poker room every day because they have nothing else to do and nowhere to do it; that fancy themselves too much of a “sharpie” to waste any resources doing anything but watching the cards endlessly go by…etc, etc.
Get it out of your head that you are a professional gambler just because you won some chips. I can beat every self-professed professional poker player in the world heads-up with one hand tied behind my back and they know it, and I’ll give them half their money back just for trying me. That’s an open invitation. My only qualification is once I bust them, they have to sign a contract admitting that they aren’t really a professional gambler and they’re sorry they said they were. That’s all I ask. Because the next time I have to read some half-baked article about ‘what everybody thinks about me now that I’m “a professional player,”‘ I’m afraid I’m going to split my side laughing. There are people who think they’re Napoleon Bonaparte too – don’t forget – but we don’t take that at face value, do we? Well, don’t take these professional gamblers/railbirds/stake-horse hounds/”I spend my life in a poker room” jokers at face value either.
If some broad in a bar takes a picture of herself and then calls herself a “supermodel,” you aren’t going to buy that are you? Same difference. She’s not a supermodel any more than some jack-around with a bunch of chips in front of him is professional poker player. From these harsh judgments I exempt the following people (and few others): Cindy Crawford, Doyle Brunson, Cheryl Tiegs, Johnny Chan, Tyra Banks, T.J. Cloutier, Claudia Schiffer, Puggy Pearson, Twiggy, Chip Reese (once upon a time), Elle McPherson, Scotty Nguyen, Naomi Campbell, Phil Hellmuth, etc. Now THAT’S supermodels and professional Sbobet poker players. Maybe Kathy Kohlberg might be a crossover. They qualify. But you’re not in that kind of company just because you have some chips in front of you.
There may be a few other professionals out there – the Prince of Docness from out of Santa Cruz is making noises like he might be a player – but if you’re not on the preceding list, you might want to check with me to see if you qualify. I guarantee you the odds are way against it. I’ve got the whole list, and it isn’t nearly as long as some would have you think.
For all intents and purposes, forget about being a professional poker player. Chasing poker destiny across the continents has got to be one of the most preposterous “professions” ever heard of. You don’t have to go to school, you don’t have to be able to spell, there’s no salary and no benefits, god knows what the service these talented professionals are offering supposedly is…etc.
I’ve seen some gifted professionals. They work in operating rooms, laboratories, universities, even courtrooms – but not in some smoke-filled poker room trying to borrow some chips when the card gods aren’t smiling on them. The very aspiration to be a professional poker player is a dead giveaway that the suspect in question is undirected, lazy, and no-count. That’s why loitering in a poker room seems like a good idea to him. After all, you can only watch Jerry Springer and game shows so many hours a day. So being a poker scuffler looks like a good idea; that’ll cover some of those other hours when you’re also not doing anything. There’s your professional poker player in a nutshell. If you choose to delude yourself with notions of being a professional player, fine – but keep it to yourself. One too many jack-offs has tried to convince me of this B.S. Every time I hear the latest flash in the pan billing himself as a professional player, I can’t help but think about the girl with a polaroid of herself that thinks she’s a supermodel.
I’ll rest my case with humankind’s supreme illustration of this principle: Even Doc Holliday didn’t bill himself as a “professional gambler.” No, he was a shootout artist, and gambled on the side. Gambling should always be on the side, like Doc Holliday done it. If you put gambling first, it’s because you are too friggin’ degenerate to do anything else. So, using Doc Holliday as my example: first he practiced dentistry, second he shot people, and THIRD he gambled on the side. It’s more respectable that way. History gave him some bad knocks, but Val Kilmer came along (see “Tombstone”) and set the record straight.
Old Doc was a businessman poker player, just like we all should be. So if he helps some fair lady with a toothache in the morning, draws down on her husband in the afternoon, and then gambles all night – at least he’s done something worthwhile. One out of three ain’t bad. But if he just gambled all night, woke up at noon, borrowed some money, and then gambled all night again – like “professional poker players” always end up doing – he wouldn’t be such a great American hero. In other words his day work – dentistry and shootouts – justified his night gambling. Let that be a lesson to all of us. Consider that my final word on the matter.