A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

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This is not about Burning Man

I was gone from the Internet for 6 days…and I survived! Shocking, I know. Simpli survived and things went smoothly for the week thanks to Seth, Ben, and Mike all picking up where I left off. I also made some great personal decisions while I was at Burning Man and partied hard. I had a lot of fun. I definitely would say it was a good week. :)

But since this blog isn’t about Burning Man, let’s move on. The most interesting recent development in my life is my new(ish) obsession with poker. Digging back through my blog, I realize I haven’t posted about online poker since March. Two big things have changed since March:

1) I stopped playing online tournaments and started playing cash games. This was the biggest change I made. The tournaments were tough; the smaller buy-in tournaments were full of people who would play any two cards, which made them more likely to suck out on me. You can’t play well against a completely unpredictable player (Doyle Brunson calls them “loose cannons.”) The larger buy-in tournaments were nearly unaffordable, and were sometimes also full of loose cannons and otherwise full of really, really good players.

2) I started reading poker strategy. I mean not just reading a little bit, but obsessively. I learned how to calculate odds and outs on the fly. I learned how to account for styles of different players. And then, after reading Doyle Brunson’s “Super System” book to the point where I could quote every good point he made, something started to change.

I started to win.

As I gained steam, I went into higher and higher-limit cash tables. (I always play no-limit hold’em, but the cash tables have limits on how much cash you can bring to the table.) Currently I’m playing $100 max tables and I bring $50 to the table. I’ll likely start playing the $200 max tables and bring $100 to the table soon.

Even accounting for the week I spent at Burning Man, in the past 30 days I’ve made over $1000 playing poker online, and I’m averaging $150-$300 profit a night. I typically play for 2-4 hours late at night. When I start getting tired, I set a goal for myself (“I’ll play until I hit $250″ was my goal last night, with a total of $100 invested, and last night was one of my worst poker nights in the past month). Once I hit that goal, I bow out for the night. (Last night I logged off with $257.20.)

True to my word, I’m using all poker winnings to pay off debt. I have a system there, too: I let my account hit $1200, and then withdraw $1000 and EFT it to my checking account, where I then push it into debt payments. Last night I withdrew my first $1000.

For right now, poker is a fun “side job” that’s definitely more interesting to me than taking contract work or doing web dev. In all honestly, with as little as I pay myself from Simpli, an extra $1000 or $1500 a month will go a LONG way. Right now my goal is to make $1000 a month and use that to pay down debt quickly so I can be debt-free before the end of the year. That’s a tough goal, but depending on how much I win and whether I get a roommate, I might actually make it.

Realistically, I know poker could be my entire life. I know that I am, right now, a very good poker player. If I wanted to continue to obsessively study for the next year or so, I would — no question — have what it takes to go pro. However, I don’t think I’m interested in the pressure that arises to make rent from playing poker. I’m pretty sure at this point that I just want to leave it as a fun side job, but not use it to pay any of my day-to-day expenses. But, as S pointed out, $200 a day x 365 days a year = $73,000. Not bad for a couple hours’ work.

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Foiled again!

I played online poker tonight (again). Entry fee was $15; I also bought an add-on after 1 hour for another $15. Top 5 won prizes. 41 people entered.

I finished 7th. I only feel like I played one hand in the entire round badly, and it was early on (I chased with an AK in the pocket even when no ace or king came up on the flop or the turn.) The final hand was as follows: I had A5 in the pocket. I raised pre-flop and got called by one person. Flop is A65. I have two pair and the pot is already larger than my stack, so I went all-in. The other person called. He had 66 in the pocket. Can you believe it? That’s the second time I’ve lost a tournament with two pair by getting called by the nut trips. Fuck!

Anyway, 7th out of 41 is not bad at all, but I still want to actually win money. 5th place was $73. Would have been nice. Ah, well…another time. :)

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AAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Oookay… so I’ve been playing a lot of online poker in the past few days. I’ve discovered that they hold no-limit hold’em tournaments every day online, which is… well… exciting! Hold’em is quite addictive and I love playing.

I’ve entered 4 tournaments in the past 2 days, with entry fees ranging from $0 to $40. (All told I’ve spent about $100.) The first one I entered tonight was a free tournament which attracted 1377 players. I finished #170, which wasn’t bad.

I then decided to push my luck and entered another tournament with a $7 buy-in. I spent $21 total including an add-on and a re-buy. There were 36 players and I finished 5th!! I won $30.

Yes, I realize I only netted $9 tonight, and am down overall, but for having only known what Hold’em was for about a month now, I feel I’m doing quite well. As an added bonus, I am scaring the shit out of my cats every time I win a huge hand by screaming out loud. Today I went all-in as a bluff. The other guy called — fortunately he had nothing either — and I ended up sucking out with a 3 on the river. I screamed so loudly that Alexis (my big orange/black/white calico kitty) bolted away from me and into the kitchen.

I have had so much fun playing Hold’em that I have to remember not to bet too much. Still, gambling in any form has always been exciting for me, and I’m quite gratified to win my first online tournament (or at least place and receive cash for it.) YAY ME!!!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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