NeverScaredB - EPT Winner Who Almost Quit Poker

Poker Players | estimated reading time
2011. April 22.
<strong>Ben <em>'NeverScaredB'</em> Willinofsky</strong> is an online poker pro, but live tournaments didn't bring too much luck to him during his career. He posted a desperate 5000th post on a poker forum saying he'll quit online poker. 2 weeks later, he won the<em> EPT Berlin Main Event.</em>
On April 11, we reported that Ben Willinofsky has won the European Poker Tour Berlin Main Event, winning a handsome €825,000. This was the first major success of the online poker pro, who plays under the 'NeverScaredB' nick.

The interesting part of the story is that on March 30, the very same person posted on a popular poker forum about variance, hopelessness and his will to win just one big tournament before he retires from poker to concentrate on other things in life. He said that he

He didn't at all expect to win the EPT Berlin 2 weeks later, but as we all know, it happened.

Ben Willinofsky

The March 30 post of 'NeverScaredB':

"This is the beginning of my 5000th post. The end is going to be, "Questions?" Then I will answer them.

The middle part is kind of a mystery to me. I have some stuff I want to say about my understanding of poker and life, and the way the two interact. I don't know what, or why, or to whose benefit it will be, but I'm saying them anyway.

The first thing I want to say is that I am not complaining. Poker has been very good to me. I have made a bunch of friends, and done a bunch of really cool things with them, that I wouldn't have had a chance to do otherwise. I have seen parts of the world I would have never have seen and learned things I would never have known and developed into a person I would never have been had I not immersed myself in poker as thoroughly as I have for the past two years.

The second thing I want to say is thank you, because a lot of that stuff would have never happened without the 2 plus 2 community as a whole, and some specific people within it. I guess most of them know who they are, but I don't think I've ever really said thank you. So, thank you.

The third thing I want to say is that, despite all the wonderfully broad stuff that poker has taught me, like risk-tolerance and process-orientation and the economic value of learning, it is really pretty narrow. I dislike that about it. I'll come back to this point later.

I wrote a whole CSB about the intersection of poker and my life and then deleted it, because honestly, who gives a ****? There is one thing that it conveyed, not particularly well or concisely, that is germane to the rest of my post. This is it:

During downswings, I get pretty miserable, antisocial, and unhealthy. I try to grind my way out of it, when volume is at most a small part of the problem. This is bad for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I fight depression sometimes.

That's probably the biggest reason I'm making this post. A very natural, very common part of being a poker player has me playing chicken with a bunch of really unhealthy habits at best, and full-blown depression at worst. I'm no longer convinced it's worth it.

Over the past month of so, I've been playing a lot less, and been doing a lot more eating well, working out, spending time with friends, reading, and thinking about ways I could make the world better. All of those things, especially the ones pertaining to my physical health, were important to me before I immersed myself in poker, and I'm much happier now that I'm doing them again.

Some of the ways I think I could make the world better are little, simple ideas. Some of them are big, complex ideas. Some of them are ambitious, some of them are logistical nightmares, and all of them are at most two-thirds thought through.

I guess this brings me back to that narrowness I wanted to talk about. The skills I've learned from poker are really useful skills, but there's only really one application for them within poker, and that's winning more money. Your hands are tied by the rules of the game, and your ability to create any value by playing is very, very slim, if it exists at all.

That troubles me. I consider myself to be a compassionate, intelligent person, but I spend most of my brain power on a simple* zero sum game. I've always enjoyed games and problem solving; I got into poker because it was fun and I am naturally inclined to be good at it. But spending most of our time and energy on poker is, ultimately, a selfish decision for any of us to make.

There's a lot of really intelligent people in this community, and I can't help but wonder sometimes what sort of value they would have created for another community if not for poker. Every so often I get a curiosity-fueled urge to see some legislative disaster pass that makes poker inviable, just to see what becomes of the brainpower here. But I realize that would cause a lot of people a lot of discomfort, and would be ethically unsound government, so the urges never last long.

I guess the logical conclusion this is dragging me towards is that I can do better things with my time than something that makes me miserable often and makes anyone else happier rarely. I don't know what they are yet. But I feel like there are more engaging, more intricate, and more rewarding problems to be solving than what to do with which cards when.

On the other hand, I've spent a lot of time and energy on this damn game over the past couple of years. There's an awful lot of inertia to overcome for me to change the habits its formed and go do something else. There's also a feeling of incompleteness, like I should have more to show for the work I've done and I'll be damned if I quit before I get it. But with variance being stupid and tournaments being extra-stupid, having something to show for it could realistically never happen, and it kind of feels like chasing losses with my time.

This is looking like an "I quit" post and it's not. I don't quit. I'm not done yet. I just sense that I won't be happy doing this much longer.

I remember a discussion in university with an intelligent and moderately crazy friend, about having an awareness of wisdom you will gain in the future that will allow you to make a decision later that you can't make with the wisdom you have now. It sounds like something the Germans would have a word for. I'm getting it now.

To sum up: Poker is stupid, even though it's done a lot for me, and I'm pretty ok at it. Something is pulling me towards something to do something. I have 5000 posts on two plus two.

Questions?"


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