To the Young Professional Poker Player

Hey guys,

As I’m writing this I’ve just arrived in Budapest, Hungary. It’s a beautiful city, and over the next few days I’m going to be exploring it as much as I can. But the subject of this blog post is not going to be on my travels.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking quite a bit about my career as a poker player – what it is I’ve done that sticks with me as meaningful; what I can be proud of. When I put up my e-mail address I was greeted with a deluge of e-mails from fans and supporters, a large majority of whom were people who had learned from me in some way. After meeting and chatting (and even staying) with some of them, it has occurred to me that what sticks with me and what I can carry as meaningful were not the things I did for myself, but the things I did to help others.

I remember when I made my video series back when I was working for DeucesCracked, “DogIsHeadsUp,” it was the first thing I did in poker into which I had put so much extra time and effort into. And when it received enormously positive feedback, I found that I felt more proud of myself than any accomplishment I had done within the realm of poker. Not just because it was something that I had created from scratch, but because I knew that through what I had created I had truly been able to help others. When you hear people say things like, it’s thanks to your videos that I learned heads up, or started winning or really understanding poker, you can’t help but light up at that. I have realized that in the end, the only thing that stays with me and gives me the feeling that the time I spent was been worthwhile, is not what I did for myself, but what I did for the people who I helped and taught. And in the end, those are the people who have stuck by me.


I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few days, and I’ve decided that before I completely break away from the poker world, I want to do one last thing. I want to write a book. Well, I intend to write a book eventually—a real book—but this is a different one. This book will be a book for the beginning (or intermediate) poker player. The poker world has given and taught me so much that I feel it’s only right for me to give something back.  I think it would make things sit right in my stomach. So I intend to release this as a free e-book for anybody to download, as my last gift to the poker world. I will entitle it, “To the Young Professional Poker Player.”

I have learned in my experiences with poker players that being good at poker can be a gift, but it can also be a curse. I know many poker players (and you probably do too) whose lives would become so much better if they could convince themselves to move away from the game. So when it comes to teaching poker, I think that teaching strategy is in a way, not enough. Besides, there’s such a preponderance of poker strategy material everywhere—there’s little I could say that has not been said before when it comes to the fundamentals of poker. But the question I posed to myself is this—what can I teach that nobody else can? What is it that I, Haseeb, have to offer?

A couple years ago I wrote that “nobody teaches us how to be poker players.” We are taught strategy, mathematics, logic, rules of thumb and bankroll management techniques…but nobody teaches us how to actually be as poker players. How to think of ourselves and of the world and of society, and how to negotiate one’s way through this bizarre culture we have erected around the game of poker. How to think about oneself through the ups and downs of the game, how to learn from ourselves and from each other, which in the end becomes much more important than any element of strategy. Nobody teaches us this, and all too often, we learn too late.

I remember myself 5 years ago, when I first stepped foot into online poker, just a 16 year old kid with no clue what he was getting into. If I could face that kid now, if I could reach out and impart in him what I now know and what he needs to know—what would be the most valuable things I could tell that kid? That is the book I want to write. Selfish in a way, maybe. But I think it would help the beginning poker player a lot more than any other strategy book that’s out there. So in the book I write, I will keep that perspective in mind—what I would want to tell myself when I began poker that would be worth telling.

I’ve outlined some topics that I’d like to include in the book, including things like—experimentation and creativity in poker, the gambling culture, one’s relationship with money, player psychology, the philosophy of poker, how to study and learn from poker (drawing upon some of my previous articles and material), and some fundamental poker concepts (reinterpreted in an analytical way that few people really understand them), and important misconceptions about poker and the poker lifestyle.  I also want to go over some really important systems of thinking about the game that most of my students have found most helpful and actionable. I’ll also be editing and including a couple of strategic articles I’ve written that weren’t originally for public release. But aside from that, I’d like to know what people would like to see in this book. Again, I am not interested in writing a generic poker strategy book—there is no shortage of such things, and there is no particular need for me to make another one. But if there is something that you feel that I can write or communicate that is of interest to you and fits the scope of what I am proposing, please leave a comment, and ask your friends to as well. I will read every single comment carefully and take them into account in what I decide what to write and include in this book.

My hope is that I can write and release this e-book speedily during my travels. I do not know how long it will take me, but if anybody is willing to volunteer their advice or aid in the preparation/steps that it takes to create an e-book, it would be a great help. If you have such knowledge or can volunteer your help, I’d appreciate it if you could send me an e-mail me at [email protected]. It would be a great help.

*Note: if you have suggestions for book topics, please put them in the comments. :)

Thank you for reading and I will write more soon,

September 07 2011
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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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