Donald "D7o1d1s0" Rae was a mid-stakes cash regular and BitB Cash game coach. We translated several podcasts he appeared on.
According to his report, the year before last, 2020, was the most successful year of his career. Back then, he won just over $200,000 with a 10bb/100 win rate.
After that, Donald disappeared from the public space for 1.5 years. A few days ago, he returned to the 2+2 blog (https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=57824097&postcount=474) and said that he quit poker a long time ago.
I do not even know where to start.
I will try to briefly describe the first four months of 2021, which were the last in my poker career.
During that period, it was unrealistically good for me, largely due to one HU match at NL1k. We played on party and I just destroyed the opponent. I don't remember the details, but I think I won about 60 buy-ins in 10,000 hands. The limit is not the highest, but for me this battle was very emotional. It all started with his aggression towards me, and several times he really managed to piss me off. Because of this, I even ended the session ahead of schedule a couple of times. I had to focus on psychology, I prepared for the sessions as if I were some kind of monk. And at some point the switch was switched, I just stopped playing hands. As a result, the poor fellow busted his account, in each session I won at least 10 buy-ins. At the end, he offered to go down to NL500 and it became clear that everything was over.
In April, I played my last hand as a professional, although I did not plan to do so at all. I paid more and more attention to crypto and defi, and poker faded into the background. I took a short break from the game, then a couple of vacation days turned into several weeks, and then more and more new activities began to appear that I chose instead of poker.
This was partly due to my coaching activities. Just at that time I released my course for BitB – in my opinion, this is the peak of my coaching career. In it, I told how to divide opponents into categories. For example, among the regs, I singled out “weak” ones (their game is based on the belief that you win poker when you have the best hand) and “thugs” (they are sure that bluffs bring the main income and strive to win all pots). For fish, there was also a similar gradation adjusted for win rate. With this system of distinctions in mind, you can run simulations in the solver, trying to understand how equilibrium works in different situations, and then form an idea of how to deviate from the solver depending on who is opposing you.
The number of regs that I marked as "strong" can be counted on one hand. This approach has worked great throughout my career. When I shared this with my students, I realized that I could not give them anything more useful. I realized a long time ago that I have a lot of young players behind me who are much better versed in GTO. I didn't see the point in competing with them. Experience was my strong point, and I was good at combining theoretical knowledge and the ability to adapt to different opponents in a practical game. When I revealed this knowledge to my students, and then did not play poker myself for several months, I realized that it would be logical to give up coaching as well.
Two reasons pushed me to the complete end of my poker career:
1. Financial. I still believe that poker is the surest way to go from four figures to seven figures. But in recent years I have also realized that it is not at all suitable for the transition to eight figures. It is enough just to reach the level of earnings of $100-250k per year. But amounts an order of magnitude higher in poker are almost unattainable. The ceiling is public high stakes games. To play bigger, one poker skill is no longer enough.
2. Moral. At the end of my career, I began to think about this more and more often. I DO NOT CONSIDER online poker as immoral. If a gambler decides to open a client, he will lose everything anyway. If you don't play with him, someone else will. But I am also far from the idea that poker is some kind of very useful activity. I think, at best, the morality of poker is around zero. In other industries, it is easy to find a type of activity that will benefit all parties. But in zero-sum games, this is almost non-existent.
Naturally, my theory has a lot of flaws. For example, we can say that streams and broadcasts from tournaments bring joy and pleasure to the audience. But this is rather an exception to the rule.
In general, in June-July I took a break from my poker career and decided to take an intensive course in programming. I've been thinking about this for many years. At university, I also studied software development, but since then I have never returned to this topic. Therefore, I doubted that I would succeed at all. I signed up for classes that took place from Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. From the very first minutes I plunged into them with my head. I have always been a supporter of computerization and automation. Our whole life, including almost any area of business, is increasingly moving online. Therefore, a 4-month programming course seemed an absolutely natural and right choice. It was a face-to-face session in Edinburgh. Everything went great, in November I received my diploma and since then I have been programming in the crypto-sphere.
Since the beginning of 2022, I have set myself tasks and take on almost any project. At first, I studied what could be useful on the market and did it completely free of charge. Of course, at first no one paid any attention to me. There are too many very strong coders in crypto. But gradually they began to notice me, and I even received the first money (small) for my work. I felt like I was in seventh heaven.
Now I have one regular client. Naturally, a career as a freelance coder does not suit me. I will strive to create my own team to solve global problems. But I'm not in a hurry and will move forward gradually. There is nothing worse than paying people for work, the essence of which you yourself do not understand well. You never know if they really do it well or just pump money out of you.
Sometimes I wonder if I was in a hurry to leave poker? A couple of times I caught myself thinking that I was quite painfully perceiving the big wins of my friends from BitB. In fact, I voluntarily moved from the top in one area to the very bottom in another. But I try to evaluate the long term. At best, my income will grow exponentially (this will first have to endure a long period of modest earnings). At worst, I will easily find a decent job in a large company with decent career prospects. There is a third option – to return to poker. I hope I will find the strength to admit that this was all a big mistake, if it becomes obvious. I really miss poker phone calls with friends during which we discussed theory.
In the end, I would like to give advice to those who are just thinking about a professional poker career.
Take care of yourself.
In my opinion, poker is mainly played by smart and ambitious introverts who tend to go headlong into their favorite business. If poker becomes a real passion for you, and you devote all your strength and energy to it, then you will be able to achieve such heights that you never even dreamed of. But don't forget that falls can be very painful too. At such moments, you will begin to doubt all your knowledge. Now it seems that you are ready for this, but the real test will take place only when you feel all the hardships on yourself. The main thing is not to allow the consequences to become irreversible. Sometimes everything ends in financial failure, and there are also very tragic cases.
I was also convinced of this from my own experience, although in the depths of my soul I always believed that psychological problems would not affect me. But they started all of a sudden. One important lesson I've learned in my poker career is don't neglect your health. No one will watch it for you. You will have to take care of yourself and this should be taken seriously. When the crisis comes, it will be too late. We all know perfectly well what meditation, regimen, sports, proper nutrition and so on are. But not everyone has the discipline to push themselves in that direction unless it's absolutely necessary.