Saturday, April 01, 2006

Premature Professional

Some of you who know me personally know that I’ve been working for the same company for the past sixteen years, ever since I graduated college. To say that what I’m about to post constitutes a drastic change of lifestyle for me is most certainly an understatement.


For the past several months, I’ve been the recipient of a bunch of poker schwag, much of it in the form of hats and shirts. Oddly enough, some of the collared shirts - both long and short-sleeve - are not half bad. As such, on several occasions, I’ve worn them to work as part of business casual attire. I didn’t really give a second thought to it, until this week.

Thursday morning, I had a meeting notice schedule pop into my inbox. The meeting requestor was our Human Resources representative. Since it was only last week that I had my annual performance appraisal, I wasn’t concerned because I was ranked rather well among my peers.

When the meeting time came, I went to the HR guy’s office and walked in. My manager and his manager were already waiting for me. Still, I had no cause for concern, but my curiosity was piqued because my boss’ boss was based in New York.


To cut to the chase, I was given a mandatory “leave of absence.” Apparently, some anonymous co-worker had suspected me of playing poker while at work. This was patently false, but nonetheless the accusations had been made. My choice to wear online poker site’s apparel was considered to be part of the evidence.

I was steadfast in my denial on both professional and technical grounds. Professionally, I would never do such a thing, it just didn’t make sense for me to risk my career for something I can easily do while at home. Technically speaking, our corporate network won’t even allow web-traffic to online poker sites, let alone game play data.

The HR guy gave me a copy of the employee handbook page delineating the penalties for gambling at work. The arguments I gave to them are what ultimately “earned” me a leave of absence instead of being flat out fired. The IM team is investigating my claims and I hope to eventually be proven correct.

But still, I’ll be home without pay until early June.


As confident as I am about being cleared, I still decided that now would be as good a time as any to finally find out if I have what it takes to play poker professionally. In about a week, I’ll receive a check in the mail, the result of me making a $20,000 withdrawal from my 401k savings plan. I’m going to go the route others have gone before me and focus on playing limit poker, starting at the 20/40 level. My goal is to earn between 1.5 and 2.5 BB/hour during the next two months.

I understand the risks involved, but feel that there is no better time to try. If you’ve read the blog for a while, you know I’m primarily a NL cash game player with a few NL tourney successes thrown in for good measure. But based on some reputable sources, the online limit games are beatable, even at this admittedly elevated level.

If I succeed, I’m not sure what I’ll due come June when I can resume my old career. Two months is a long enough trial to make that determination and perhaps it may be the beginning of a major life change.

Here goes nothin’.

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