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The Disciplined Degenerate

A spot where I try to make sense of a game that rarely makes any sense
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As I wrote briefly about at the end of yesterday, I wanted to talk about Phillip Gruissem's outlook on the game of poker. Of course, everyone in the poker world is seeing how he's doing so well in the High Roller and Super High Roller events everywhere he goes. However, what struck me was how Gruissem was so open about talking about what he did with his winnings by practising "effective altruism".

It was fascinating to read transcripted interviews as he talks about how the game of poker is his chosen tool to help the greater good across the planet and the specfic examples of how he used winnings to help with various charitable campaigns around the world. It's a far cry from the stereotypical poker player you see on TV who seems to be more interested in living the high life.

It made me think back to the struggles I had when I was younger in deciding that playing poker was going to be what I did on a daily basis to make a living.

I remember one tournament so vividly as the turning point for me walking away from the life of a professional grinder. During play at one of the early tables, there were two friends who were openly talking about what possessions they were going to buy if they won the tournament and the few thousands that came with winning. I was thinking to myself about how trivial it seemed for someone to have shoes as their top priority.

As the tournament progressed, I ended up making the final table and went out about 5th or 6th (can't remember exactly) to pick up a cash of just under four figures. Of course, all my friends wanted to go to the bars and clubs and live it up, but for whatever reason, it didn't seem right at the time and I said no.

I'm so glad I did. The next day, I was having lunch with my family when I told them about how much money I made at the tournament and showed them how full my wallet was. That's when my sister pulled me aside and told me how she was struggling to make ends meet with her job, but that she didn't want to ask my parents for money. It wasn't like she wanted to buy anything extravagant. She needed money for groceries. At that moment, I had no problem giving her half the money I had made and telling her to do whatever she wanted with it.

To this day, I feel like it's the best thing I've ever done with any poker winnings. Sure, I've done the big dinners in Vegas or the bar-hopping/clubbing with friends and that was fun, don't get me wrong, but the ability to help out others may be the way I go in the future if I make some big scores again. I don't play high enough any more to be in those big tournaments, but if I do play one of those again and do well, I might have "effective altruism" in my mind a little more than I ever would have thought a few years ago.

Back to less serious posts next time, I promise...

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