The growing popularity of poker 10 years ago offered a great opportunity for talented players to apply themselves to the game full time, and make a significant amount of money along the way. For most, the opportunity to play an enjoyable game for a living was a dream come true. There are clearly many advantages to playing poker professionally, but it certainly isn’t easy. In this article, we speak about three pros who have seen plenty of success, but who have also chosen to bring their poker careers to an end.
Frenchouf: French pro living in Thailand. “I haven’t won anything for 2 years”
For Frenchouf, the decision to end his career playing online came after 2 years of not showing a consistent profit. Once a profitable grinder at stakes ranging up to $5/$10, he now feels that the games are getting harder and harder to beat. This honest evaluation of where he stood in the changing world of online poker led him to the simple conclusion that poker was no longer a viable use of his time.
He had the following to say on the subject: “After this second year without subsequent profit, I had to question myself. I realized that I was behind a lot of top players and with less and less recreational players at the table it’s more and more important to remain on the top of the food chain.”
He added: “More importantly, I realized that I didn’t have the motivation to put in the work needed if I really wanted to keep playing poker for a living for the next years. When the motivation is not here it’s hard to make all the effort required to catch up with the best. The future of online poker is also unclear , I prefer to invest my energy in something different.”
KC Wong: “I made an agreement with my family to play full time MTT poker for 3 years, and now it comes to an end”
KC Wong is currently one of the top tournament players on the Asian circuit. He finished runner up twice in a row in the Asian Player of the Year race, and just last January, cashed for AUD$160,000 at the Aussie Millions Main Event.
When he first chose to leave his steady job to play poker, KC had to make an agreement with his family that it would only be for 3 years. He was 32 years old when he made this difficult choice and pursued poker full time. He commented that he first considered working until his fifties to ensure he is financially secure before playing poker full time but, he had doubts over whether his brain would still allow him to compete at the highest level. After a year of weighing up his options, he resigned, and took on the fresh challenge of being a poker pro.
Three years later, and he has another decision to make. He explained on the HK Poker Hand Discussion Facebook Group that he was considering leaving poker behind, and moving on to a regular job. Despite his successes in the poker world and passion with the game, he remains resolute about honoring his agreement with his family. As professional accountant, KC has already started looking into opportunities in the HK labour market.
“Are there any substitutes to chips, which is merely a scoring unit in MTT poker?”. “Will the removal of chips further de-links MTT poker with casino games and improve its social perception?”. These 2 questions remain unsolved in KC’s mind after his 3 years of poker road.
Simba: Quitting poker to pursue another destiny
Another well-known face on the Asian poker scene is Sim Jae Kyung, also known as Simba. The GPI ranks Simba as the number 1 player in Korea, with his highest ever global ranking being 183rd worldwide. Just a few weeks ago, he made the announcement that his poker career was at an end. His last event on the Asian tour was celebrated by the poker community during the opening of APT Experience. He stated that his decision was a result of a job opening, teaching Korean in Atlanta. Wanting his son to go to school in America was also a serious factor in his decision.
Playing poker for a living is clearly very demanding and often, players can put their dreams aside to either take care of family, ensure greater financial stability, or act on the wishes of their loved ones. Sometimes of course, the fact that being successful requires so much hard work can take its toll and passion for the game can dwindle.
Making it as a poker player can be like scaling a mountain. Many would love to do it, but wanting to spend an entire lifetime doing it…That’s a rather different proposition.