I have to admit, I've had a significant identity crisis since my father passed away and I returned to Buffalo.
What the hell am I? When people ask me, "What do you do?", I always have a pause before my answer.
I work for myself. I'm an entrepreneur. I run a web site. I do Internet marketing. But never have I publicly said, "I'm a professional gambler."
Now I'm just beginning to realize that's exactly what I've become.
Since I was a small child I've been drawn to games - especially games involving uncertainty. Roll the dice in Risk. Toss dimes or rings at the state fair. Flip for your favorite baseball card.
I've also been drawn to both sports and math. I spent much more time looking at the backs of those cards, memorizing player stats. I spent hours alone playing stat driven sports games, APBA, Stratomatic and many more, including my all time favorites: SI superstar baseball and Mattel talking football. I'm quite sure I'd still be playing those today if I owned them.
As a teenager I developed a poker habit, playing a roving home game with many of my high school friends. When we first got cable TV I was only 15, but all of a sudden live sports was unleashed in my household every night. I also started computing, playing almost any sports game on the Commodore 64. I even found time to play a few fantasy leagues.
All of this was living for me, but it was also training. I learned strategy, decision making, risk and reward.
Fast forward 15 years. After a business degree, a counseling degree and several boring corporate jobs, I discovered online poker (and sports betting). While a nebulous legality surrounded the entire world of Internet commerce, I knew this was the future of gaming.
Out of the ashes of online poker, the phoenix of daily fantasy sports was born. I caught this wave right at the beginning and experienced consistent success. Only my poor bankroll and my family issues kept me from taking on anyone bigger than myself.
So now we are knocking on 2012 and I'm taking a personal assessment. I can say with full honesty:
-I am a lifetime winner at online poker against the rake, without rakeback or bonuses.
-I am a lifetime winner at sports betting, without rebates or rewards.
-I am a lifetime winner at daily fantasy sports (all sports), without rakeback or bonuses.
-I am a lifetime winner at horse betting, without rebates or bonuses.
-I am a lifetime LOSER at slots, down $220, two sessions over a ten year period. I'll never play slots again.
-I am a successful marketer for legal Internet gaming sites.
-I successfully stake fantasy players, all of my horses have turned profit every year so far.
-I've created a successful projection model that continues to evolve, it has helped make money in multiple gaming areas.
Yet given all of these factors, I'm still NOT the house. I'm the action maker, not the action taker.
I guess this means I'm a gambler. Although I don't think what I do is any different than any individual investor.
I'm just doing what I've always tried to do: Get my money in with the best of it.