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The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
by Steven Zoine

So you want to play poker professionally? Do you think that you're ready? Let's take a look and find out.

It's arrival day. I just flew into Las Vegas from the East Coast. You'll soon find out that the traveling is exhausting and seemingly never-ending. You often forget what day it is, let alone the month, and on more than one occasion, I've forgotten what city I'm in. The first thing you need to do is buy in to the tournament. A typical major event entry is $10,000.00. Since it seems there's a major event every other week, this can be an expensive hobby. If you're not going to play in any satellites or cash games, you probably want to get to bed, because if you get deep into the tournament, you're looking at some long days.

Most tournaments start around noon; so much for playing all night and sleeping all day (Myth Number One shattered). So after getting up at around 9AM not that I sleep much when I travel I shower, eat and maybe go for a walk. The event today is the $5,000.00 No Limit Holdem Event at the World Series of Poker. It's noon of day one and time to shuffle up and deal. This is a relatively small field by today's standards, with 466 entries, but some of the biggest names and best players in the world are here today. This surely won't be easy. We get started a little late, and what a day: we play for nearly 16 hours before ending day one. We've lost nearly half the players. It's now around 4AM, and thankfully I made it through. Day two starts tomorrow at noon.

I have another restless night and don't sleep very well. I feel even worse from the jet lag, but it's back to the tables. Today we play down to the final table, and this could take a while. After surviving a few scares and more than my fair share of suck-outs and bad-beats, I make it to the final table. Nine others and myself, after playing another 16 hours, will be back tomorrow to play for a bracelet.

The final table starts at 3PM, but I draw noon for my interview with ESPN. After yet another sleepless night, I return to do my interview, which goes rather smoothly. Now it's on to the final table, and what a table it is the likes of Gavin Smith, John Bonnetti, Todd Brunson, John Hennigan and TJ Cloutier. Am I sure this is what I want to do for a living? It's almost surreal. Before I know it, I'm heads-up, staring across a pile of money that you wouldn't believe, opposite a true legend of the game. I am playing TJ Cloutier for a World Series bracelet. I have the chip lead for a while, and then we go back and forth. Finally we're all-in pre-flop A K versus A 5. A flop of 4 6 8 sends an ugly chill up my spine. A harmless J falls on the turn and then, bam!, like a bullet in my stomach, the 7 of diamonds on the river, giving TJ a four line straight. That close to winning a bracelet... my dream has to wait one more year. My share for second place: $352,620.00. Not bad for 43 hours work. Since it costs about $500,000.00 per year to stay on tour full time, I'm only $150,000.00 short of realizing a profit. So I guess I'm on to the next venue.

So as you can see, the saying is true: It's a hard way to make an easy living.

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