You may remember Spencer Sun from the outrageous hat that he wore when he won the 2000 Tournament of Champions. That win netted him $239,400 as he outlasted 486 other players to capture the 2nd annual TOC crown.

 

With that kind of payday many of us would be tempted to tell our boss to take this job and… But the then 27-year-old kept his full-time computer programmer job and has no intentions of giving it up to pursue a career in poker.

 

What I would like to do in these interviews is occasionally break away from the strict question and answer format and delve into our own reasons for playing poker. This has been done before, just look at some recent issues of Poker Digest, or psychologist Alan Schoonmaker’s work: The Psychology of Poker.

 

But my question is what we, as beginning or intermediate players, hope to get out of poker.

 

My first interview for Pokerpages.com was of David Roepke, a mostly full-time UFA player, who has a mostly part-time construction business. David cut his teeth on hard-scrabble, high-stakes Texas poker (like everything else about Texas, bigger than life). He plays mostly tournament poker now.

 

My second interview was with ex-lawyer Randy Holland who started playing small-stakes poker, then $40/$80 hold ’em, then small buy-in tournaments before graduating to big-time tournament poker. He now plays poker full-time.

 

Three very different types of players.

 

I teach Economics at a community college. I draw lessons from poker that I include in my Economics’ lectures. Some of my students accuse me of being a compulsive gambler with no control over this “addiction.” Most are kidding; some are dead serious.

 

So why do we play poker? The vast majority of us are nowhere near compulsive gamblers. …