A One Way Trip into Professional Poker
by Dan Gordon
I am 21 years old and I am a professional poker player?sort of. My name is Dan Gordon. For the better part of this year, I have supported myself entirely through playing poker; so using the definition that identifies a professional as "Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career", I suppose I am a professional. Of course, people who sit down with me typically don?t get the look of excitement or fear in their eyes that they might get from playing with a world champion. Someday that will be the case - maybe. I have won quite a few small (twelve to forty-four players) tournaments around the area, and a few of the bigger ones online. My game of choice is no-limit Texas Hold?em and I have been playing it for about 4 years.
I am now in the process of moving to Las Vegas and you will be able to track my progress by reading excerpts from my poker playing journal in each new issue of Bluff Magazine. In order to help you follow along, I should tell you a little about my game. I feel I have a very unique style that seems to lend itself more to "no limit" than a structured limit game. My ability to focus and remember both cards played and opponents? playing styles have been important assets to my success to date. I also believe it is important to get the most from every pot, and I continue to develop my ability to read other players to figure out how much someone is willing to put in with that hand. I also know how important it is to get away from a hand if I think I am beat, even if the pot odds tell me I have to call. One of the things I enjoy hearing most in cash games (and even sometimes in tournament play), is someone mumbling, "Wow, that was expensive!" as they push me the pot.
In all of the personally challenging endeavors I have ever tried in my life, whether it was golf, pool, soccer or baseball, I always remember evaluating whether I could find a way to make a living at it. Interestingly, the Yankees never once returned my calls for a tryout (I was eight years old), but I never gave up. The fundamental difference between these childhood goals and playing poker is that I actually have the opportunity to take the chance and try to earn my living doing something I love.
I always hoped the time would come for me to take the chance and, in spite of the concerns (of which my more practical side regularly reminds me), make the leap and try to become a professional ? as I defined above. I know that time is now. My game has gotten to a point where I am winning much more than I am losing, and I sense that I get respect from the players against whom I compete, although they would NEVER admit it. One of the most successful aspects of my poker game is the fact that most people underestimate my ability to play. Whether it is because I look young, or talk too much at the table, I never seem to have a shortage of available action being thrown my way.
When I finally decided to move to Las Vegas , I had some concerns about what my family would think and how they would react. While they have always been supportive of my choices, including quitting my part time server job to leave more time for poker and school, they could easily be called conservative (especially my Dad). Although I have supported myself playing poker for the past six months, they still have some work left to do before they are completely comfortable with the idea. I hear them tell their friends that I am moving to Las Vegas to become a "professional gambler". Interestingly, I have always disliked the word "gamble". I always think I have a strong chance of winning ? no matter who I sit down to play with. If that weren?t true, I wouldn?t play. In fact, I am more likely to consider the people that are playing with me as gamblers, because I believe I always have a better than 50/50 chance of winning. In any case, as the initial shock has passed, the questions they now ask me indicate a genuine interest in learning more about what I do and I believe they have a fairly high level of confidence that I?ll do well in my chosen profession.
It?s probably important to let you know that I have an exceptionally strong competitive aspect to my personality. "Cocky" may have even been muttered once or twice when referring to me over the years. But I take my poker game seriously, and the self-confidence I have is earned.
I know that what I am doing represents a big step and requires a great deal of faith in my own abilities. I have that faith. A number of people I have spoken with about this big step told me that now is probably the best time for me to try to do it. Having no ties holding me back, I am confident that this is the perfect time. I hope, in this series of articles, to provide some useful insights to those of you reading of my experiences. I hope I will be writing stories of my success and newly acquired great riches. Whether or not that actually happens, my journey should be exciting, and I look forward to sharing it with you over the next few months.
(© 2005 BluffMagazine. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)