Ah‚Ä¶I remember it like it was 5-9 years ago.
Back in the mid-to-late ‚Äò90‚Äôs, the so-called ‚ÄúInternet‚Äù was minting new millionaires at an hourly rate that rivaled Phil Ivey‚Äôs.
Unfortunately, not everyone cashed out at the right time. Some got greedy and didn‚Äôt sell their options in time, convincing themselves that the market would rebound. Others, like yours truly, didn‚Äôt sell because his boss, the founder and CEO, had him write an email to the company pleading all employees not to dump their shares when the first vesting date arrived, as it might flood the market and lower the stock price. While yours truly did sell some shares anyway, yours truly did not sell enough to never have to work again‚Ä¶only enough to take about five months off the next year.
Two prodigal Internet gurus did get out at the right time, however, retiring from the working-world grind to grind it out at poker tables…forever retiring words like, ‚Äúrobust,‚Äù ‚Äúmaximize,‚Äù and ‚Äúbleeding edge‚Äù for words like, ‚Äújamming,‚Äù ‚Äúposition,‚Äù and ‚Äúlay down.‚Äù These two men, Phil Gordon and Paul Phillips, were two of the earliest and most successful new breed of poker players…the ex-Internet millionaire.
Now, a good five years after the dot-com era bust, there‚Äôs a new-New-Economy-Millionaire taking the poker world by storm: the Magician.
I asked my good buddy Bones at Weathered Living why he thinks magicians are having so much success on the felt recently. Bones is a magic aficionado who can be seen at bars across the country trying to win over drunk girls with his wizardry. Bones explained the recent ‚Äúmagician invasion‚Äù phenomenon as follows:
‚ÄúFirst off, it‚Äôs important to differentiate between a true magician and a mere illusionist. Illusionists, such as the Cris Angel‚Äôs and the David Blaine‚Äôs of the world, probably make for skilled poker players simply by their comfort and familiarity with a deck of cards. Having stared at decks for so many years as they perfected their craft, they‚Äôve grown accustomed to every nuance of the shuffle, every sound of a card flip, every minute reaction from the viewers around them. They‚Äôre essentially subconscious card counters and amateur psychologists, which I would imagine could help in a poker game. As for magicians? Well, that‚Äôs easy. They‚Äôre good poker players because they‚Äôre fucking magical.‚Äù
With this in mind, Wicked Chops Poker has decided to compare and contrast Internet Millionaires with Magicians to see who, in fact, make better poker players. Our analysis may astound you (picture your monitor now getting blurry, fuzzy, and fading into dreamy sequence)‚Ä¶
|Pre-poker career||Phil Gordon, Principal Software Architect for Netsys
Paul Phillips, CTO of Go2Net
|Antonio Esfandiari, magician
Scott Lazar, magician
|Tournament results||1 WSOP ME final table, no WSOP bracelets, 2 WPT titles, numerous cashings in non-hold‚Äôem events.||1 WSOP ME final table, 1 WSOP bracelet, 1 WPT title, no cashings in non-hold‚Äôem events.|
|Ability to read people||Only care about closing the deal, making it happen, and making the quick buck.||Part of their act already; critical for success.|
|Aggressiveness||More cerebral, analytical. Selectively aggressive.||More likely to move people off hands through brute strength or via hypnosis. Can backfire though if opponent has a monster or isn‚Äôt easily hypnotized.||PUSH|
|Mental Focus||Used to working 16-18 hour days.||Usually off the stage after an hour or two show.|
|Ability to calculate odds||Used to crunching numbers, algorithms, and code.||Only needed to really know if they had 1 cape, 1 cap, 1 rabbit, 1 deck of cards, and 1 wand for their act.|
|Chip tricks||Standard rifling.||Too many to even mention, bordering on infinity.|
|Cultural Impact||Celebrity poker, rec.gambling legends.||Poking celebrities, pulling rabbits out of hats.|
As you can tell by this scientific analysis, as of right now, Internet Millionaires make better poker players than Magicians. However, this can and likely will change. Both Antonio Esfandiari and Scott Lazar are relatively young in their poker careers, where Gordon and Phillips are grizzled vets. Gordon is one of the few pros who really has transcended poker, but
That leaves Paul Phillips to battle it out with Esfandiari and Lazar. Despite David Copperfield inexplicably landing Claudia Schiffer, from what we‚Äôve seen, poker players generally get much better looking girls than magicians. This singular factor, along with the money and stuff, will likely keep Esfandiari and Lazar focused on their poker careers, and they‚Äôve proven to have the talent for continued success. Sure, I could just as easily see billboards down the strip in Las Vegas touting, ‚ÄúEsfandiari and Lazar‚Äôs Magical Spectacular!‚Äù as, ‚ÄúEsfandiari and Lazar battle heads-up at the Wynn!‚Äù, but let‚Äôs face it, there‚Äôs a certain ‚Äúit‚Äù factor with poker right now that does not, and may never have, existed with magic. Esfandiari and Lazar are here to say.
Whether or not they eventually surpass the success of Phillips and Gordon, well, like that Asia song, ‚Äúonly time will tell.‚Äù