Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the upsides and downsides that playing online poker professionally entails, some more obvious than others. Being your own boss and answering to no one is something that many people aspire for and I must say, it feels pretty darn good. Then comes the fact that you can sleep in every day of the week and make your own work hours. Waking up naturally is one of the most satisfying feelings out there and undoubtedly has a positive effect on daily energy/focus levels. Finally, the freedom to travel whenever (and in most cases wherever) you please is something that is not very normal for 18-30 year olds.
I can't tell you how blessed I feel that I found poker. In a way it worries me that I am too spoilt right now because honestly I can never imagine having a conventional job that gives me a boss to report to, dictates what time I wake up, etc. I know this thought is something a lot of other players struggle with. I hope that doesn't come off as too arrogant or sound like shameless bragging because that is really not my intention.
Moving on, there are some negative aspects that poker brings with it that are too often overlooked in my opinion. Obviously there are exceptions and not everyone can be pushed into one category, as is the case with most things in life. For starters, playing poker professionally can lead to very high stress levels, especially with the guys who can win or lose a large % of their bankroll on a daily basis. Downswings can be very difficult to deal with emotionally and I think the stress is too much for some people to handle which is why they blow up and eventually go broke.
Also, online poker players have very little social interaction by default. As a result, poker players can be some of the most awkward people you'll ever meet. Many lack even the most basic of social skills and I think this is the reason so many get literally addicted to places like the Spearmint Rhino. Poker players really should make an effort to try and have more actual conversations (Skype convos don't count, nor do conversations with the pizza delivery guy) and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they would start to feel more comfortable in their social interactions.
Another thing I have briefly touched upon in the past is physical activity. I'm a firm believer in that being physically fit has a direct positive effect on the mind and its ability to make decisions. Unfortunately, tons of poker players totally ignore this. I really can't blame them, either. Why leave the house when it's cold outside and I could make $xxx/hour staying inside? What they don't realize is that in the long run, that hour spent exercising is going to potentially pay off exponentially. Also, your body will thank you! My advice: join a team sport and kill two birds (social interaction + physical activity) with one stone.