12/24/09

Hi everyone,

I am 31 years old and have been a professional poker player for the past ten years. While I have done well, I now have a wife and baby and I would like to "go legit". I have been told by someone in trading that my specific set of skills might make me a (longshot) candidate for something in the finance world.

Since I spent all of my twenties thinking that I would just sit at a poker table for the rest of my life, I am completely in the dark as to how to transition now.

So basically I am asking for any advice whatsoever, whether general or specific. Any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading,
Butcher

Comments (15)

In reply to FutureBanker09
Best Response
12/27/09

I was at my birthday dinner with my family yesterday when my mom was like "Jason! you should see what some guy is writing about you on the internet!" She has some sort of google alert on my name I guess and she pointed me to this post.

I thought what you said was mostly fair. "pitiful" is a fair way to classify my grades. I was a B/B- student. I double majored in biomedical and electrical engineering at duke so it wasnt a cupcakes degree at a joke school... and my grades really fell off junior senior year when i started making lots of money playing poker and when I got my job offer early in my senior year.

The way I look at it is that if you were hiring a banking analyst--fine, take the 3.9 GPA and guy who has been motivated to rock the world of finance since he was in middle school. But if you are hiring a trading analyst of 30 undergrads and you are a big firm like JPM/GS/MS/BAC whatever, you can definitely afford to take a shot on a non traditional applicant, and that is what I was. I just sold myself as a smart kid who had the skillset for trading (comfortable with numbers, making quick decisions, making educated guesses under pressure, etc)... It also wasnt hard to explain why my grades were not that great because I was making 50-100k a month and traveling the world playing poker instead of turning in my problem sets.

Its much harder to get a job in finance once you graduate and become a pro poker player, especially at a big bank that typically only hires undergrads or b-schoolers who arent already in the business. To the OP, I think starting at one of the market makers/HFs is the way to go.

Now stop insulting me in front of my mom/rest of the world!
-Jason Strasser

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12/24/09

Care to provide any info on your educational background? While there are stories of people getting into trading with nothing more than a GED, I think present day a 4-year degree is probably a must.

By "going legit," do you mean you just want something with more reliable cash flow not influenced by the hand you are dealt? Or do you essentially want to cut your gambling ties? If you aren't opposed to still being in the gambling game, it sounds like there are many opps to take an equity stake in some kind of poker-oriented start up, especially if you have a big enough name to be recognized and respected within the poker community. A friend of mine is a big player and has added to his winnings by doing just that.

12/24/09

First off, thanks.

As for my education, I went to college for about three weeks in '97 and so there's nothing to say there.

Also, I am not a known player. I "cut my teeth" in the underground scene of New York City (where just about everyone knew I was successful for many years), occasionally traveling to AC and Vegas. Most recently I've spent the last two years playing exclusively online as I've relocated to the midwest area. I've been successful, and consistent, but I've kept an extremely low profile. That's sort of how I wanted it...

Any other ideas?

In reply to thebutcher
12/24/09
thebutcher:

First off, thanks.

As for my education, I went to college for about three weeks in '97 and so there's nothing to say there.

Also, I am not a known player. I "cut my teeth" in the underground scene of New York City (where just about everyone knew I was successful for many years), occasionally traveling to AC and Vegas. Most recently I've spent the last two years playing exclusively online as I've relocated to the midwest area. I've been successful, and consistent, but I've kept an extremely low profile. That's sort of how I wanted it...

Any other ideas?

Lame story. No chance. Sorry.

12/24/09

With your background, some of the day trading shops or PWM (broker) is the only road I see. Would use some of your poker winnings to open a stock trading account; learn the lingo and see if it's something you like doing first before venturing into this area....this could be a very bad deadend for you if you don't like the market

In reply to eiffeltowered
12/24/09
eiffeltowered:

With your background, some of the day trading shops or PWM (broker) is the only road I see. Would use some of your poker winnings to open a stock trading account; learn the lingo and see if it's something you like doing first before venturing into this area....this could be a very bad deadend for you if you don't like the market

I kinda disagree here. There's a kid named Jason Strasser, who had pitiful grades in college but was a successful poker player. Because of this he got a job trading derivatives at MS. It's sad to think with their being so many more qualified applicants out there, but you have a chance actually.

12/24/09

Try trading with your own capital and see how it goes.

12/24/09

FutureBanker09 is absolutely correct.
Jason Strasser trades Single name options with us on the Equity Derivatives desk at Morgan Stanley.
There's always a shot, but i think you'd have to make a few contacts to get looked at seriously (not every poker player can just work on the trading floor..otherwise it would be littered with them)

CD~

12/24/09

If you're a "pro poker player" why don't you just keep playing. You're at least over 1 mil networth and probably will make more than a lot of analysts out there.

However, you are correct in that banking won't apply to you and something like prop trading would be better. Not even BB/market making trading since you are less independent and are representing clients. Rather, you might want to look at prop trading shops and if you are very good at mental math/brainteasers, interviewing for firms like FYN, SIG, Spot, Optiver, etc.

In reply to FutureBanker09
12/25/09
FutureBanker09:
eiffeltowered:

With your background, some of the day trading shops or PWM (broker) is the only road I see. Would use some of your poker winnings to open a stock trading account; learn the lingo and see if it's something you like doing first before venturing into this area....this could be a very bad deadend for you if you don't like the market

I kinda disagree here. There's a kid named Jason Strasser, who had pitiful grades in college but was a successful poker player. Because of this he got a job trading derivatives at MS. It's sad to think with their being so many more qualified applicants out there, but you have a chance actually.

Jason was at Duke. So that tells something about him.

12/26/09

Use your contacts - anybody you know in the finance industry that can get you in front of key people so that you will have a chance to sell your story. It's a relationship-based industry.

Remember to have a convincing story - these people don't like to waste time. Good luck!

12/27/09

most "live pros" don't really have even basic math skills so i'm not sure what you would be bringing to the table unless you plan on soulreading the market. best bet is definitely to hit up the wall street fish you used to play with in nyc

12/27/09

Butcher,

First, I'd forget M&A because I'm not sure your story makes logical sense if it ends in qb'ing analysts in creating pitch books and offer memos. But if a career in S&T is what you have in mind, then I'd take heart if I were you - a huge strength of yours in this process is your genuinely interesting life story. The key here is to weave a growing interest in finance into the cool story of the pro poker player. Perhaps you could talk about how you realized trading took the same kind of quick thinking and gut level information synthesis that you did automatically over years playing cards. Perhaps an ability to make decisions confidently with incomplete info? Perhaps talk about how you chatted up some players while taking their money and were intrigued by their careers in finance and as you found out more. Focus on all the value you will add to the organization because of the skills you've been honing over the years.

I'd start the process by meeting a lot (I'm talking like 200 people) of people in the industry. Focus on alumni, hometown, family, church, former card player - any kind of legitimate connection. Ask them about what they do. Talk about your growing interest in trading. This process is a lot of work and will feel like a part time job, but if you're really a pro online poker player then lucky you, you're the boss so easy to get the time off approved. Ask for advice on how to break in. Ask about their stories. Look on these contacts as potential friends first and the job connections will come.

I'm convinced a lot of ex-athletes are in banking because their stories are just cooler than the same old cookie cutter shit. Not to suggest they aren't qualified, because they absolutely are, just that there are a lot of qualified people who don't even get interviews because they're just boring as hell. After all, a lot of the consideration after the question "are you smart enough" has been satifactorily answered is if they can stand being around you all day long. Stay committed and absolutely do not leave anyone who speaks to you in any doubt of your commitment. Be persistent and DO NOT GIVE UP. Go do it, man!

1/12/10

To be honest playing poker for a living as enjoyable as it sounds, I can tell you that its the closest thing to mental torture there is. Its one of the loneliest jobs out there, comparable to any of the dirty jobs on TV. Basically your sad and happy by yourself 12-14 hours out of the day, when your working everyone you know is sleeping. When your sleeping everyone you know is working. Its a Meta game you play with yourself, and you have no control if the outcome is positive, meaning you will goto work having less money in your pocket then when you came in.

Jason Strasser should cut the kid some slack.

6/10/10

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