Every semi-serious poker player has thought about it at one time or another.
Let's say that you are grinding it out while finishing up your degree. You do pretty well online, making more than enough to buy every toy that you could possibly want. You've scraped together a pretty respectable roll for yourself, and can't stand the thought of attending one more boring class while the world continues to pass you by.
You've thought about it. You've thought about pulling a "Mike McDermott", gathering up all of your money, putting all of your personal items into storage and moving to Las Vegas. School can wait. You can always find another job. You tell yourself that now is the time to go for it, when you are young and unattached. If you get married and have a family, then moving to Vegas will be virtually impossible.
You live, breath and eat poker, so why wouldn't you move to Las Vegas?
Under the right circumstances, it can work. You do, however, need to give yourself a realistic chance of making it in Vegas as a full-time poker player.
For every player that moves to Vegas and makes a success of themselves, you will have 100 players that crawl back with their tails between their legs, completely busted. If you snap one day and just take off, you can leave a lot of damaged (sometimes permanently) relationships in your wake. If you are seriously thinking about making the move, then the best thing that you can do for yourself is: prepare.
The first piece of advice that I could give is: don't burn any bridges. Don't quit in the middle of a semester if you are in school. The best thing that you can do for yourself is finish your degree if you are close to completion. If you are almost done your degree and seriously thinking about dropping out to go to Vegas, don't do it. Grind it out and finish your degree first - you'll thank yourself down the line, even if you never use the degree.
If you aren't really close to finishing your degree, then you should consider finishing up your current semester and taking a sabbatical. If Vegas doesn't work out then you can always pick up your schooling where you left off.
If you are working at a job, then give proper notice. Give extra notice. Go out on good terms with your company. Burning a bridge by just walking out on a job, no matter how crappy it is, is never a good idea.
Next up - your living expenses. This is different than your playing bankroll. Don't ever combine the two. Talk to people who are currently living in Las Vegas. Ask them approximately how much they pay in rent and other expenses. Look online at what kind of apartments are available and how much they cost. Try to be honest with yourself in terms of what your monthly expenses would be. You want to be somewhat comfortable - if you are living in a dump and eating beans and rice to conserve money, then you are going to be living a miserable existence and Vegas will be a nightmare. Don't go if you can't afford a half-decent standard of living.
You should have at least six months worth of living expenses saved up, in addition to your poker bankroll. The two should never mix. This six months worth of savings is strictly your "cushion" in case you have a bad stretch and aren't able to make any money at the tables. You should be trying to pay your expenses out of any profit that you earn playing poker every month - this "cushion" shouldn't be used on a regular basis. It's your last line of defense in case things don't go the way that you want them to.
So let's say that your proposed poker bankroll is $20,000. You figure that you need at least this much in order to be adequately rolled for the games that you want to play. You've also figured out that you will be looking at around $3000 a month in expenses in order to live somewhat comfortably. So not only should you have your $20,000 poker bankroll, but you should also have an additional $18,000 saved up to cover your six months worth of expenses.
The next piece of advice that I would give - let this decision marinate in your head for at least a couple of months. Don't just snap and head to Vegas cause you had a bad week in school or because you broke up with your girlfriend. Think about it for at least a couple of months. Weigh the pros and cons. Do your research. If after a couple of months you still want to go, then go.
Next up - dealing with your family. If you are young and still in school then this will obviously be a delicate issue. Most families are not going to be too happy about hearing that you are planning on moving to Vegas to play poker full-time. If you are going unprepared and basically have nothing saved up then be prepared to get blasted by your parents. If you haven't planned anything out, then you would deserve to get blasted.
Instead, when you tell them about your plans, go in prepared. Tell them how much you have saved. Tell them your plans. Most importantly, tell them what your back-up plan is in case things don't work out. Give them some hard numbers. What your bankroll is. How much savings you have just in case things don't work out. What your projected expenses will be. Etc. Etc. The more details that you can give them the better. If they are helping you out with school then show them that you are committed to finishing out the semester and leaving in good standing. I mean, if you are old enough to move to Vegas then you are old enough to make your own decisions, but it always helps to have your family supporting you, just in case things don't work out. The last thing that you want to hear, after coming home busted from Las Vegas is, "I told you so." (obviously I'm talking to the younger readers here. If you're 40 then you obviously won't have this problem).
So let's say that you have successfully exited school or your job without burning any bridges, plus you've figured out your expected monthly expenses, saved up enough to have a "cushion" in additional to your poker bankroll, gotten the ok from your parents and let the thought of Vegas marinate in your head for a few months. What now?
If you've gotten this far, then just go for it. Vegas may or may not be for you - some people can't handle all of the "distractions" of Las Vegas and grind at the same time. A select few thrive in Las Vegas; many others fail miserably. You won't know which category you fit into until you actually go. If you are young, have a decent bankroll and don't have any attachments, then now is the time to go and find out. But only if you are sufficiently prepared. If you fly out there with $4k and expect to "make it" in Vegas - you're dreaming.
Filed Under: Miscellaneous Poker Articles