An article in today’s paper finally prompted me to write an entry about this. I doubt most will agree with me (as has been proven in the past), but it’s something I’ve bitched and complained about for some time. Anyone who knows me pretty well should know my recent obsession with, and anger towards, professional gambling. I’ve gone round and round with people about the absurdity of the whole notion… “I’m a professional gambler.” Professional what? Gambler? Kid me not, please.
Irritated, though I might be about this, a recent conversation with a co-worker shed some new light on the situation. We came to the conclusion that the reason some people don’t like the term ‘professional gambler’ is because of its connotation. I, personally, consider a professional someone who provides a service. Plumber? Yes. Secretary? Yes. Stock Broker? Yes. Prostitute? sigh Yes.
Those, in that context, are professionals. You pay someone to do a service and you get something in return (heh, I said prostitute).
Okay, that side of the argument is clear. But what about professional sports atheletes? They’re considered professionals, right? Of course they are, they’ve worked years and years practicing their sport and are now paid to do what they love. They’re usually employed by a team, or a corporation, and in exchange are actually providing some entertainment value to the fans.
Ut-oh, there’s a hole in my argument, isn’t there? Yes. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing the gamblers themselves, nor their skill. Hell, I’d bet (so sneaky how I worked that one in) that most of the better players have been playing poker longer than I’ve been alive. The skill, the knowledge, the ability to bluff… it’s all not inheret. You have to hone to those skills, practice them a lot before you can be really good and beat the best.
The goofiness comes into play when we start talking about the World Series of Poker, the very reason why this whole issue is on my mind. To enter the ESPN televised contest (that’s been highly edited), all you need is $10,000. That’s all. To be a participant in the contest, $10,000 will get you in. You don’t have to win any pre-qualifying tournament. You don’t have to play poker a certain number of hours before you can get in. All you need is $10,000.
And why not? The total prize money that everyone is playing for comes in at $52 million+. The winner will only take home $7.5 million, but everyone that ends up at the final table will each win at least $1 million.
Just because Chris Moneymaker (winner of the 2003 WSOP) won the championship, doesn’t mean he’s a professional gambler. What does that even mean? My guess is that he’s got enough money to just gamble for the rest of his life. And that’s all he does. But what if he decides to stop gambling and just drink alcohol for the rest of his life? Does he become a professional drinker? Or what if he decides to tour the world for the rest of his life? Professional tourist? Posh.
What about the gamblers that never win a big tournament? I feel sorry for them. No, I feel sorry for their LUCK, because they’ll never be a pro.
There’s one story I’ve heard about some guy that lives in Las Vegas. He drives a limo in the city, taking people back and forth places, much like a taxi, but nicer. Once he makes $10,000, he stops driving and heads to the casinos. He’ll live off that $10,000 until it’s gone, whether that’s 10 minutes or 10 months. When he runs out of money, he starts driving again. It’s a sad story, in my opinion, but that’s the closest someone can come to being called a professional gambler in my book. You can truly ask him what he does and he can respond, “I’m a gambler.”
I don’t like the term ‘professional gambler’. Never have. Never will. And I think anyone that calls themselves that should look into attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
+ original post date: July 10, 2005 05:28 PM
+ categories: WTF