I started playing MS Poker Tournament in late August 2007. Poker is a very popular sport in Microsoft. We run weekly tourneys from Tuesday to Friday (normally, it’s Tuesday $40 buy-in, Wednesday $20 buy-in, Thursday $50 buy-in, and Friday $30 buy-in) and there is also a $100 buy-in game on a certain Saturday every month. There are also cash games being played all the time, but cashing or winning in the regular tourneys will also earn you points towards the POY (Player Of the Year) leader board. At the end of the year, the top 20 finishers will have a TOC (Tournament of the Champions) game to decide the ultimate winner of that season. The game is about the hardcore cashes, and it is also about the bragging rights.
Unfortunately, many people simply have a misunderstanding about poker and think it’s just some reckless gambling and just a matter of luck. It cannot be more wrong to that kind of understanding. As I always try to tell people around me: poker is a form of investment. You put your money in and you try to make more money out of it. In fact, poker is one of the few investment methods that are actually FAIR. You put down your buy-in money and you start with the exact same amount of chips as every other player. The only thing matters afterwards is your skill. On the contrary, take stock trading for example, most people view it as a more positive way of utilizing your capital than simply letting the money go rotton in a savings account. I totally agree. But what many people neglect is sotck trading is UNFAIR, and in many cases, EXTREMELY UNFAIR. Sure, you can do you due dillgence and try to make the best judgement. But for most of the people, they simply don’t have the bank roll to influence the movement of the market while on the other hand, big player with a huge amount of capital can easily swing individual stocks in one direction or the other. Regardless of how good you think the fundamentals of your stock pick are, you are sometimes subject to the manipulation. No, I am not saying that you are destined to be a victim in the stock market. For the record, I invest in stock actively myself. I am just trying to point out that many people don’t realize that they are actually facing a much bigger risk when investing in stock than when "investing in poker". Then why do people think stock is a legimate way of investing while they label poker as "gambling"? That kind of logic simply does not make sense.
Another thing people don’t normally appreciate is the amount of skills needed to be a good poker player. There is a lot of maths involved, more maths than most people guess. You have to analyze and categorize your opponents’ style and use every bit of the information to try to predict what their hold cards are. You need to have the guts to put your tournament life on the line and make tough calls under pressure. And you almost always have to fight against weakness in your personality. And the best part is you have to keep learning in poker. There is no way to say that "Now I am the best player in the world and there is no room to improve any more." This is simply because you will be facing different opponents in every tournament, every round, and every hand. You have to be constantly focused, study them, and adjust your plays.
I don’t like a complicated life style and to this date, I still cannot name more than a few hobbies aside from reading, programming, poker, and some other geek stuff. A lot of things I do is not because I like to do those, but I have to (like hiking or going to the gym for instance; I am just doing these to keep myself in shape, but I won’t go crazy about them.) I also don’t have to keep finding new things to do every week. I can keep doing things that I enjoy again and again for a long time and won’t feel bored with them. Poker is one of those things.
Last Thursday, it is the first Microsoft Poker Tournament of 2008. I took it down and won over $700 in cash. I am determined to make a run at this year’s POY title.
A lot of people nowadays have a problem in that they have so much time and so little to do. I am lucky not to be one of them.