My New Commitment To You

I was once told by one of the smartest men I know, “Alex, you are an incredible poker player, but you are terrible at business.”

It’s true. I’m not that great when it comes to business. I don’t like any of the marketing tactics all of my consultants have had me using. I’ve gone through so many assistants.

This time I’m just going to tell you guys exactly what I’m thinking, why I’m working with you, and what that has to do with you. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes the experts would criticize, but at least I can sleep knowing I spoke honestly.

I have always been a very good poker coach. Since I started coaching in 2010 I have had waiting lists. I have worked with WPT Players of The Year, multiple #1 Ranked Pocketfivers, and thousands of others.

I have not always been a good businessman or manager. Like most people in professional poker, I came to this game because I didn’t quite fit in any other field or educational institution. It has been a slow process learning how to conduct my affairs.

One of my greatest difficulties has come in the form of my job description. There has always been a negative connotation with full-time coaches in professional poker because it is assumed that most of them would be playing full-time if they were really good.

I became a full-time coach more through chance than anything. I grew tired of tour life quickly in my early 20’s and began longing for a simple life in the suburbs. I got married, bought the house, and even found myself a poodle.

Recently, that marriage came to an end. During the divorce I was in such dire need of an escape I found myself working 14 to 16 hour days. In this time I was able to complete 40+ hour webinar packages and final table WPTs in quick succession.

After these developments, I decided I was going to take all the pain I was feeling from my personal failures in life and channel it into my profession.

Quickly, I found myself in the thralls of a health scare. What the doctors first described as simple overworking quickly developed into something more serious. For months, I was on medication that left me tired and unable to work my hardest. I frequently had to comp lessons because I felt they weren’t up to my previous standards. Projects ran long overdue.

In this time, I actually found poker to be an incredible refuge.

When I am in a lesson I have to analyze anywhere from twenty to hundreds of hands in an hour. Many times, my students pick specifically their most difficult hands, which have me solving long algebraic chains mentally while also talking at full speed. It is a job I adore, but I found it extremely difficult during times where my health wasn’t sufficient.

At the poker table, I found I had considerable time to think. People were generally kind to me. Online, I could play small enough stakes that the money didn’t mean much to me. When I was lucky enough to get a few final tables, the money really went a long way.

It was during this time that I really began to love poker again. I went into poker when I was very young because I was seeking a way out of poverty. When I found the money I once so desperately craved, I discovered I wasn’t sure why I was playing still.

In the throes of a very difficult time in my life, I was finally able to understand why poker is so important. It is a very meaningful game of wits. It is a social game in a world that is dying to be isolated. It is an escape. It is the most beautiful game in the world because it does not discriminate based on age, sex, sexuality, race, socio-economic background, or disability. Poker is a world unlike any other, where anyone can truly play and win.

Weeks after I made this realization I started feeling much much better. It turned out my symptoms were largely psychosomatic the whole time. I was worried I had committed my life to nothing and ruined my marriage in the process. Thanks to some incredible people, therapists, and some good discussions with my ex-wife I was able to finally realize I was creating all my own problems.

It was at that time I decided to become a full-time poker coach. I knew then that I wanted to help people achieve their dreams in this game. I could sleep well at nights knowing I helped others build their lives throughout my work day.

The last month has been amazingly good to me. Training for the Main Event was intense and extremely helpful for my personal coaching. My health and vigor have returned full force. I am happier than I have ever been.

And more importantly, I am writing more than ever before.

My writing has always bothered me. I don’t tell many people this, but when I moved to Seattle at 18 I actually wanted to become a writer. In this venture, I failed and failed repeatedly. I couldn’t write. When I did write my manuscripts were constantly rejected.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to be a poker player too. I just always assumed I’d become successful at poker then turn my attention to writing.

That didn’t happen. One year turned to two, which turned into four. In Malta, I spent every morning writing, only to have my novels rejected. In Costa Rica, I spent even more time writing, only to have my work go nowhere. As the years added up over a decade, my frustrations mounted. Poker started as a way for me to make pocket money in high school. I’d wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade.

It was only recently that it dawned on me, through you guys, that I could write. I just needed to humble myself and do what I was good at first while I was learning the other fine points of the craft.

With your encouragement and interpersonal relationships, I found myself able to write poker and life advice that worked for many people. I could have never done this without you. Getting to work with adults in so many fields every day for hours at a time gave me a global perspective I would have never found in any writing college. More importantly, I found my writing could actually help people, which gave me a purpose for the first time in my life.

The Myth Of Poker Talent is still selling well thanks to you guys. I am now part of an extremely small group of writers who have acquired a publishing deal and cleared their advance. For reference, agents reject 96% of author submissions (as I so unceremoniously found out throughout my twenties). Seven out of ten books do not earn back their advance, and some sources have that number as high as 90% given the new competitive self-publishing marketplace.

As I found out with the release of a self-published passion project called Sharp Staking I now have a writing career. I’m almost 30, and I now have what I’ve wanted ever since I was 12.

During most of my adult life, I assumed my poker career was impeding my progress in writing, my true passion. Now I see that the relationships and experiences I’ve earned through this game are the only reason I am a semi-interesting writer at all.

If you learn nothing else from me, learn this: You are not your day job.

You sleep 56 hours a week. You work 40. How you spend the other 72 hours is what defines you. The time you spend with your parents, kids, and friends is what defines you. The joy you find in your passions is what defines you.

If your 40 hours of work does anything for the world you are way ahead of the game, because oftentimes it’s simply not necessary. If your work contributes anything to your passions or your relationships you are truly blessed.

And that’s really why I am writing you this email. I am finding right now that I am truly blessed because of you guys.

I’ve recently begun to connect with some people in New York who I always looked up to. Highly educated people. Important people. Salaried people. Good people.

What I found was many of them were not happy with their lives, because they were sold the lie that their money, status, and title was what defined them. When they gained those advantages in life they found they still had a great deal of work to do.

I am extremely wealthy in life because I love my day job and my passion. You guys make everything worth it. I never saw it before, but thankfully this rough patch in life made me see why I am so stupidly lucky.

There’s still a lot of money to be made in poker. I just don’t find I have the passion for sitting at the felt for six weeks at a time anymore. However, I really love helping you guys achieve your dreams. I love creating something every day that could possibly help people, as opposed to contributing to the overwhelming negativity that seems to envelop our culture at times.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to be myself. Thank you for allowing me to take care of my family without compromising my principles. Thank you for being so patient with me over the years, and for taking the time to teach me so many lessons.

And on that note, I’d like to announce my retirement from professional poker. I will now be playing the game for research and fun. I am now a full-time author and coach.

To whoever is reading this, I sincerely hope that one day we can work together. However, my commitment to you is that I will always be of service to you, no matter what your budget is. I grew up reading poker books in the library and watching VHS tapes of World Poker Tour. I will always give back to this community for giving me everything I have. You never have to pay for anything unless you absolutely feel comfortable with it. If you want to just enjoy the free articles, videos, and podcasts till the end of time, be my guest. I will give you 100% of my energy and knowledge in those formats, just like I do in the private lessons.

Once again: Sincerely, thank you.

Good luck to all of you. Take care. God bless.