Most young, successful poker players face this decision at one time or another. Should I stay in school and finish my degree, or should I turn professional and play poker full-time?
I lost count of how many times I have heard this story. You have someone who has finished three years of school, and is one year away from receiving their degree. School for them is a bit boring. When you consider the fact that they are very successful at the poker tables, it makes existence at school even harder. How can I concentrate on school when I am throwing hundreds of dollars per hour away by not grinding away at the cash tables on Full Tilt Poker? Why would I want to get up at 8 am for a biology class when I could be playing tournaments late into the night, and having a blast doing it?
We are big advocates of staying at school and finishing your degree, no matter how much money you are making playing poker. Here is why:
1. College will likely be the best time of your life. Ask anybody. Most, if not all, will tell you that their college years were some of their best years. Sure, you could go back when you are 40 and finish up your degree if this poker thing didn't work out. But who wants to do that? College is much more fun when you are 20. From drunken parties to intramural teams to the opposite sex to meeting all kinds of new people; college is a blast.
2. Most successful poker players have gone bust at one time or another. I believe Doyle Brunson said that he has been bust "hundreds of times." If you can somehow manage to finish your degree, you will at least have that to fall back on if you do manage to bust your bankroll (it has happened to players way better than you.) Imagine busting and realizing that you were only a year away from finishing your degree? Where are you going to get the money to finish your degree if you are now 35 years old and bust?
3. For many young players, school is largely paid for. Whether it is your parents paying your tuition, or maybe you are on a scholarship. If you are in a situation where school is paid for, you'd be crazy to drop out. You can enjoy the college experience and play poker at night, on the weekends, and during the breaks. If you don't have to pay for school, now is the time to really pad your bankroll.
4. Some of the best players online are also enrolled in school. If some of the best and brightest out there have decided to attend college even though they are making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, then what does that tell you? They are smart, they make strong decisions, and they are still in school. Doesn't that tell you all you need to know?
If you are a successful poker player and still in school, and really wrestling with this decision, then this would be our solution. Stay in school. Finish your degree. Play poker during the evening when you have finished your work for the day. Play on the weekends (especially on Sundays for the best tournaments.) Make Sunday your "poker" day, where you do nothing else but play poker. Play poker like crazy during your breaks, especially during the summer. Travel around to some of the summer tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (if you are of age.) At the end of the day, you will have your degree, and then you can play poker full-time to your hearts content with no guilt and no reservations, and your parents will be happy also. Then, if the worst case scenario should happen, you still have your degree to fall back on. College is just too much fun.
Filed Under: Miscellaneous Poker Articles