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If you want to turn pro, keep day job

Sep 9, 2008 7:00 PM

Back in the Saddle by Johnny Hale | Carol, I get questions from some of the younger Whippersnappers about how to become a professional poker player.

Here are a few of my answers.

If you desire or plan to become a professional poker player, don’t give up your day job. You will need a couple of aces in the hole because becoming a professional player is a very difficult way to make an easy living.

There’s about three chances to be a successful poker pro:

• You must pick your parents very well so you will always have a place to stay and something to eat.

• You must marry well so your wife can keep her job when the cards are cold.

• You must hustle like "Hale".

Very few can support the lifestyle to which they would like to become accustomed to by playing poker. They have to forget the word playing and change it to working poker.

A winning poker player can be successful at almost anything in life, but some people successful at many of life’s vocations cannot necessarily play poker.

Years ago the method of play for a lot of poker players was to make the other fellow mad and upset, but you do not see that much anymore.

I will give a little bit of credit to the card rooms of America. The successful card room nowadays will not allow player abuse.

There were and are a few prodigies in poker. Others can play classical music at the age of 4 or solve difficult mathematical equations at an early age. These gifted children understand and can operate computers better than most of their parents.

I have a 4-year-old great grandson, who is enrolled at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma in the Youth University. He understands and can solve quadratic mathematic equations! I have other wonderful grandsons and granddaughters who at age 6 do not understand what "x" is.

Stu Ungar was an exceptional poker player, whom I played with frequently in the WSOP. I could never beat Stu in poker, but did get him in Gin Rummy.

Stu called me the fourth best poker player in the world because in 1980 when he won his first title I finished fourth to him in the $5,000 seven card stud event.

Stu won the WSOP championship in 1980 when I won the best all around poker player award and was given a gold bracelet from Binion’s Horseshoe Casino. Unfortunately, Stu lacked a lot of important life skills! He died broke at an early age and was buried by poker players. I went to his funeral.

So if you want to be a pro, consider your other options. I recommend you play poker for recreation and win enough to make it fun. Keep your day job!

OK-J Tip of the Week

It has been said that "Early to bed and early to rise will make a man healthy, wealthy and wise!" And, "The early bird gets the worm!"

But many a poker player is late to bed and late to rise, along with sometimes being broke, healthy and seldom wise.

Remember to Stay Lucky!!