I am in a serious dilemma in a crossroads in my life. My dad is an old school, wealthy conservative who wants me to join the workforce like he did and slave away my life to something I don’t necessarily feel good about. I can’t spend my life in a office, I simply can’t and I know this deep inside me.

My true passion lies in one thing- Poker. I have studied and played the game since I was 13 (I’m 22 now) and I have no doubt in my mind that it is what I want to do with my life. Don’t misjudge my passion though, it is not solely in pursuit of money. I have fallen in love with the game and the people. When I sit at a table and watch and study the people across from me I feel at home. I am competitive and intelligent, and I always have had a fascination with observing people and what drives them. I also love to meet people and be social. There is no better place to see every kind of person than at a poker table.

I want to watch people and guess what they are thinking every single day of my life. I want to die on the felt.

Here is the problem: I have one semester left in college and I had to pay for it on my credit card because my dad was not happy that I failed a class. I have always done well in school, but I find undergraduate school very pointless. I have learned nothing in college and I struggled to put any focus into it- I have always spent my time reading books about succeeding at poker. I am in debt and have no money to pursue what I want to and my dad won’t help me at it because he is severely against it.

Gambling has always been an iffy career choice, but the game, Texas Hold em, has stood the test of time and feeds many, many people as a career. My dad doesn’t believe me and won’t help me.

How do I get away from my debt and embark on my true passion?

– Anonymous Poker Player

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13 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I know professional poker players. They are good enough to not go into debt – even when they are young. So you’re probably not good enough to go pro. And if you are, do it now because you don’t need a degree.

    Since you are probably not good enough you should get an internship doing domething that you can put on your resume so that when you graduate you can get s job.

    I hope this helps.


  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I may have been confusing, I am not in debt from playing I have records of me being a winning player since every session I have logged. I am in debt from school!

    I don’t have the cash to even go try and I feel like this is the perfect time to go try… I just want to be go try but my dad is evil. He has so much money.

    – Anonymous Poker Player

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Your dad isn’t evil. You’re a brat. If you have a winning record you can get an investor to give you $5000 in exchange for a percentage of your earning for a period of time.

    Your dad doesn’t help you by giving you money. You are essentially running a startup, right? You need an investor. If you have a good record you can figure out how to get startup money. That’s what most people do your age when they have an idea they can execute on and they need money – they don’t go to their parents. You need to be an adult and play by adult rules. You are just a whiner when you write that your dad won’t make it easy for you.


  4. Anoel
    Anoel says:

    Penelope’s suggestion is probably better but if you can’t find an investor-why not teach people how to play poker? I know it’s something I’d hire a tutor for. There’s plenty of people who would pay for that. Check out I Will Teach You To Be Rich if you want to learn ways to find target markets and such but that should help out with getting the money to get in the game and win more money.

  5. Alice
    Alice says:

    Penelope is completely correct about the description of Anonymous as a “brat.” As a twentysomething who spent the first three years out of college paying back my own college loans, this kind of “poor me” attitude seems incredibly pervasive among my cohort.

    The alternative perspective here is that Anonymous’ “evil” Dad spent his time and money creating a stable environment where he could grow up and pursue a hobby that his dad doesn’t understand but that Anonymous has enjoyed from a relatively young age. I think more people in my generation could use to stop blaming our parents for our problems and take responsibility for life as a real live adult.

    Here in Los Angeles, we work in (gasp!) an office during the week, then hoof it to Vegas for poker on the weekends. Shockingly, we manage to make money and support a fun hobby this way, no permission from Dad needed.

  6. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    I think what Penelope means about debt is broadly applicable. The good players known not to go into debt…you weren’t smart enough to avoid school debt. You went into credit card debt to finish a degree you don’t care about, which means you’re probably undisciplined enough to go into debt playing poker as well. The suggestion by the other commenter to teach other people how to play poker till you’re debt-free is a good one. Run online courses to teach poker. Do private tutoring. Host in-person game seminars where you match people up so they have fun playing while you teach them — your skills at reading people will work well there.

  7. CL
    CL says:

    I’m the same age as the OP and I think that he should have just dropped out of college instead of putting the tuition bill on a credit card. That’s a dumb move.

    In Penelope’s post on how to decide whether your kid should go to college http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/2013/02/26/five-ways-to-tell-if-your-kid-should-go-to-college/, she links to Tynan, who made a living off of being a professional poker player: http://tynan.com/hustle?safari=1. It’s possible to be a professional poker player and you irrationally decided to go for your college degree at the same time.

    When I read the post and Penelope’s response, I knew that you had no gambling debt. That’s not the issue. You’re so entitled that you think that your dad should pay for your schooling EVEN THOUGH you apparently failed a class. You don’t need to be in college – it has almost no bearing on your desired future career – but you decided to go anyway. That’s on you, buddy, not on your dad.

  8. dan
    dan says:

    I have been a professional gambler for over 10 years starting when I was 17. The only way gambling can work as a career is if you are very good, otherwise you will have too much stress and run the risk of going broke and you won’t have much upward potential. If you were good enough, you would know by now and there is no doubt about that. Good player’s do not need investors because why share profits when you don’t have to?

    Keep poker as a hobby.

    If what you say is true, and you are one of those strange people who really has a passion for poker and want to be involved in it, consider getting a job as a dealer in a poker room in Vegas, or you could find some sort of job at PokerStars, there are also new poker start up companies based off of the new internet currency bitcoins which may have some opportunities.

  9. Satori
    Satori says:

    The question was “How do I get away from my debt and embark on my true passion?” and I don’t see any thing here telling this young individual to follow their passion but rather people shutting it down and suggesting ways around it. If this is truly your passion you should pursue it but consider the costs as well. Not all professional poker players were always at that level but they were able to achieve it eventually. Semi-professional poker players still work part time jobs at the same time to take care of things such as debt from education. Many people fall into debt because of school and still end up being professional poker players… You have to work hard to get yourself out of that debt i.e. part time job and still devote much time to working on your game if you are wanting to succeed. Just know that there are risks involved at if you over commit you could find yourself in a sticky situation but you know what, taking risks is part of being a poker player and an entrepreneur at that. Follow your dreams but be smart about it at the same time :)

  10. dan
    dan says:

    satori, your post is ignorant and poorly thought out.

    I don’t really care if this guy has a passion for poker or not. If he wants to pursue it in his spare time as a hobby then good for him. If you want him to pursue it as a “semi-professional” in a manner in which he depends on his winnings to support himself than you are being dumb. He has played poker for ten years and is still asking for a $500 loan to play poker. So if we are gonna be smart people here and use stuff like logic and reason to predict the future (which btw is a pretty important trait if you don’t want to lose all your money in poker), then we would look at his past and see how poor his results have been in poker and realize that the same is probably gonna happen in the future.

    I could go on for ever about how silly the idea is that this guy tries to go poker professionally now, or about your response Satori… in fact I recommend the original person goes to http://www.twoplustwo.com a massive poker forum and search the archives he will find endless information by life time gamblers, famous players, other college students like him about similar situations and no one who knows anything would say to pursue poker as the number one priority.

    The most likely scenario here if he did pursue full time is that he would get a part time job or a loan from someone to play poker. He would spend most of his time playing and less time studying. He may win $1000 or even $2000 a month for half a year and then he is gonna get unlucky at the table, have some personal problem, and lose the $6,000 he managed to build up from poker in a 30 hour session. He’s gonna hate poker, not have learnt much useful, want to win back his money but not be able to, and be isolated because poker is a lonely game.

    • Blake Es
      Blake Es says:

      Hahaha that’s such a negative outlook you have there ! Although that is how 3/4 of the players most likely end up if they don’t fall flat on their face from the start . For the OP now there’s nothing wrong with a passion for poker as long as you’re able to keep a stable income coming from somewhere
      else first. Also it’s usually not wise to talk about parents money in any situation since anyone who didn’t come from a bright background may be jealous/envious right from the start.

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