Confessions of a Poker Writer: Are We All Failed Players?

TAGs: Lee Davy, Poker Writer, Simon Young, Writer Confessions, WSOP

Confessions of a Poker Writer: Are We All Failed Players?Lee Davy continues his confessions series by pondering the question: are all poker writers nothing more than failed poker players?

Are all poker writers nothing more than failed poker players?

In a previous Confessions article I talked about my experience of playing at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), and I made the following statement.

Most poker writers are people who have tried to make the game their number one concern, and then for one reason or another, decided that writing about it would be the better choice.

Simon Young, Editor-in-Chief,, took exception. He believed that the statement was a ‘sweeping way to belittle the professionalism of poker writers.’

Rather timely, I have been asked the same question, just this week, by another poker writer, journalist, blogger, or whatever status you want to pin on his lapel.

So let’s open up the ligatures and see what shit flows from this quite obvious raw wound.

My wife believes I exaggerate and that I am not careful with my choice of words. I say things that I don’t mean and I use end extremes such as ‘everyone does that’, ‘you always do this’ and ‘nobody in the world does that.’

My bad.

So my statement ‘most poker writers’ is nothing more than an over exaggeration on my part, and I apologies to any professional writers who might be walking the streets of Cardiff looking to take my eyes out with a rusty spoon.

I guess you can only be a failed poker player if you have tried to be a poker player. In my sphere of influence I know a lot of writers, from all over the world, who mix playing with writing.

None of them have ever told me that they wished they could play instead of write, but my instinct tells me that they would swap one life for the other in a heartbeat.

When I realized that I was stuck in a job that I hated, I needed a way out, and I saw poker as that way out. I was working in the rail industry – had been for 19-years – and I was having problems in my life because the thought of going into work terrified me.

At the same time I had just quit drinking alcohol.

I live in Ogmore Vale – a small Welsh valley where drinking is a very big part of the culture. Up until that point in my life the only person I knew who had quit drinking alcohol was my Granddad.

My decision to quit was very powerful for me.

If I could quit drinking what else could I do?

I paid good money to join the Jack Canfield Life Coaching program, and my coach told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do. I just needed to figure out my life purpose and off we go.

After a lot of soul searching I decided that I wanted to spend my life helping people quit drinking alcohol. I wanted to go into schools and counter brainwash the children who were already scarred by societies razor sharp claws.

So how do I go from earning £60k per annum on the Railway, supporting a wife and child, to helping people quit drinking alcohol?

I needed a bridge to get from one point to the other and I chose poker to be my bridge.

And why not?

I loved everything about the game, and I was winning in most of the games I played in. The way I saw it, if I could earn enough money to pay the bills, through my poker playing, then it would give me enough time to work on creating my own life coaching business.

So I created a five-year plan.

I started playing cash games on Full Tilt Poker (FTP), but I couldn’t win sustainably. Then I moved onto PKR, hooked up with Bluefire Poker coach, Alan Jackson, and I suddenly started winning money.

But there was a problem.

It just didn’t feel right.

The losses affected me more than they should. A byproduct of fear. I knew deep down that my decision to try and be a professional poker player, while supporting a family, was both reckless and selfish.

Two things I never told anybody at the time.

And then I started writing.

I wasn’t a writer. I hadn’t been trained. I had no dreams to become a writer. I just saw it as a way of potentially earning money, and I was desperate. If I didn’t make this work in a year, my redundancy money would have dried up and I would have been forced to find a real job.

So I wrote.

And I wrote.

And I haven’t stopped writing since.

After a while I realized that the money that would come in from my writing contracts was fixed. It was safe money. Poker money would fluctuate and I couldn’t handle the losses. It was danger money. I simply couldn’t afford to play poker anymore, because I didn’t have the money.

So I hardly play poker anymore.

Instead, I stand by the table and I write about what I see.

In one sense that makes me a failed poker player.

I tried, and I failed.

But the answer to the question really depends on what it is you want to achieve in your life?

I didn’t want to be a poker player. I didn’t want to be a poker writer. All I ever wanted to do is help people quit drinking.

So what is it that you want to do?

If you wanted to become a professional poker player, tried and failed, then you have your answer. You are a failed poker player.

If you worked hard at school, studied and gained the appropriate qualifications to experience journalism at the highest level, then you are not.

The answer, as is always the case in poker, is…

It depends.


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