Starting Over

So I’m starting over.

I’ve decided to give away all of my money. Two years after retiring from poker, I have left about half a million dollars. I’m giving some of it to charity, and the rest to my family to go toward my parents’ retirement. I’m leaving myself $10,000 to live off—you know, in case I’m an idiot and everything goes horribly wrong.

Oh, and I just finished the book, which I’ve been working on for the last two years (as most of you who follow my blog already know). It’s finally for sale, and you can get it here.

Wait, wait, what? You’re giving away all your money? Why?

I know, right? What the hell?

Well, I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to use what I’ve been given to help people who have been less fortunate. I also wanted to support my parents, who have done so much for me throughout the tough times in my life. I’ve been lucky in so many ways, it’s only right that I do what I can to pay it forward.

On the whole, poker was an amazing (and surreal) experience. It taught me a lot; it was very generous to me. But I don’t want to live in the shadow of it. I want to prove to myself that I didn’t need poker. That my career as a poker player was not my apex, but just another stepping stone toward the rest of my life.

Okay, okay. So if you’re giving it away, can I have some?

No. Unless you’re running a registered charity, in which case maybe. I’ve made my first donation to ICCS, the Indigenous Cultural Conservation Society, and I’m looking to donate to three more, but haven’t settled on the other charities for sure yet. I prefer smaller charities, to minimize administrative waste and, ideally, maximize investment directly into projects. Most mega-charities funnel so much money back into marketing and fundraising, oftentimes only half of your donation actually goes toward charitable work.

So if you know of any awesome charities I should look at, tell me about it on Twitter. I’m still in the process of researching them, and I want to complete all the donations before the end of the year.

The rest is going toward my parents’ retirement. The older I get, the more I realize what amazing human beings they are. When I was born, they were poor, struggling immigrants living out of a tiny little apartment. They inspire me. I don’t expect my life to become quite like that, but I try to remember how hard my parents had it. Probably harder than I ever will. I think they deserve a break, and hopefully this will give them one.

How are you going to live off $10,000? That won’t last you too long.

I know! I’ve started cutting back on costs as much as I can. I’ve always lived pretty simply though, even when I was a poker player. But now, I’m trying to live as frugally as I can. I’m also learning how to cook. I just learned how to hard-boil eggs. Yes, learned. As in, I couldn’t do it before.

I can’t make this stuff up, guys.

What charities are you donating to?

I’m donating a total of $75,000 over three or four charities. Right now, the first charity I’ve picked out is ICCS, the Indigenous Cultural Conservation Society. I’ve sent them $20,000. They’re a nonprofit whose primary work is with the Masaai of east Kenya, working to educate them on sustainable, efficient agricultural practices (in a region of the world that is suffering from rapid desertification). I really just fell in love with their work. I encourage you to check them out, they’re awesome people working toward an important, sustainable solution. Send them a donation! Seriously! This cause needs all the help it can get.

Update: the other charities I’ve donated to are The Simama Project ($20,000 for awarding comprehensive scholarships to 7 Kenyan children to get them through high school), charity: water ($20,000 to build and maintain 6 water wells in Dadu, Pakistan), and GiveDirectly ($15,000, matched by another $15,000 from Good Ventures; learn more about GiveDirectly from their TAL episode).

Do you have proof you did all this stuff?


Receipt from ICCS for first $20,000 donation—Scribd

Receipt from The Simama Project for $20,000 donation—Scribd

Receipt from charity: water for $20,000 donation—Scribd

Receipt from GiveDirectly for $15,000 donation (matched by Good Ventures)—Scribd

Documentation of title transfer (deeding my real estate to my parents): image

Bank statement (with $55K segregated for the remainder of charity donations)—image

Picture of the cafeteria food I’m now eating everyday ($9.10 for all-you-can-eat)—image

Well, damn. Okay. And what’s this about your book?

Yes! I just finished it. It’s for sale now—you can get it here. I’m pricing it for the first month at $2.99, because I want to make it as affordable as possible as a favor to people just starting out in poker; after that, it’ll be priced normally at $9.99. Go pick it up. I know a lot of you guys on my blog have read a lot of my writings already, but it’s super polished and sexy, and there’s some new content as well. Plus it’s just cool to have an actual for-real book, right? That’s what people tell me, anyway.

If you want to help me out, please write me a review! Share this story or Tweet about it. Tell your friend, “hey, this pile of pages is pretty awesome, go read it.” Everything helps. This book has been such a labor of love for me. I was eighteen years old when I came up with the idea for this book, and it’s kind of amazing now to think now it’s finally been released.

Man, oh man.

Anyway, go pick it up! What are you waiting for?!

Ah! Stop yelling at me!

Don’t be like that.

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Managing Partner at Dragonfly. Effective Altruist. Airbnb, (acquired by Coinbase) alum. Writer. Former poker pro. Donate 33% of my income to charity.

San Francisco
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Dec 2013