I love to hear stories about how people got into poker. Sure, very often it’s something like “I used to play a lot with my friends and family for fun, I enjoyed the game and eventually realized that I could make a living out of it”, but every now and then you’ll hear a story that deviates from that path. So let me tell you the story of how I started playing poker.
It all started cause I’m a helpless romantic. I believe that love knows no limits, no boundaries. That includes geographical ones. So out of all the nice men in Greece, my home country, I fell in love with a Portuguese. Eventually, that meant that one of us had to move to a different country in order for us to be together. Turns out, that person was me.
Finding myself in a different country, I had to make a fresh start. Learn a new language, get a new job. I sent out CVs and waited to hear back from someone. While waiting, I had a lot of free time on my hands. It was then than my boyfriend offered to teach me how to play poker.
At this point I should probably tell you that my boyfriend is a professional poker player. In fact, you may have heard of him, it’s Team Online’s André Coimbra, best known for his crazy challenges. As you can imagine, the poker lifestyle was something familiar to me. I was used to seeing him win or lose more money in one day than I’d make in months, I traveled with him to live poker tournaments and attended some great PokerStars’ parties. Yet if you asked me if a flush was better than a full house, I wouldn’t know what to tell you. So when I got a chance to really learn how to play, I grabbed it.
I spent most of my days immersed in poker back then. I was reading books, watching educational videos, having coaching and of course playing. My game of choice was sit’n’gos with 9 players. What I realized immediately was that even playing the micro-stakes, winning was not as easy as it looked on the outside. I didn’t feel like I had a natural talent for the game, but I was determined to move up in stakes. And that meant I had to work hard.
And that was when it happened: I got a call from a company who wanted to hire me as an accountant. I was over the moon, that meant a steady income coming into my bank account every month. I took the job without thinking twice and said my goodbyes to poker.
Yet when invoices and numbers popped up in my screen at work I was wishing they’d be poker tables instead. I was missing the game. And when my boyfriend went without me to the Bahamas during the PCA, I realized that I was missing the lifestyle as well. I recall one day at work where I opened my mailbox and found an email from my boyfriend with pictures from the Bahamas. Sunshine, swimming pools, sandy beaches and drinks with friends. He even included a video where he was giving me the tour of the hotel’s breakfast buffet, the biggest and most delicious-looking I’ve ever seen. When I stopped drooling, I looked outside the window. It was raining cats and dogs where I was and there was no sun shining even though it was midday.
The final straw came shortly after that. There was an overload of work, which meant that for many days in a row I had to leave the office at night. By the time I got home, André had started his poker session, which meant we couldn’t have dinner together. We lived in the same house but practically didn’t see each other! I needed to have a conversation about it with him. “I think you could make more money out of poker than what you are making right now”, he said. I spent some time thinking about it. The truth is, my background is in languages and I didn’t like accounting at all. And apart from doing a job I wasn’t enjoying, I hardly ever got to spend time with my boyfriend. I had moved to a different country to be with him, not to work endless hours at a job I didn’t like, so what was the point of it all? Finally, I asked myself the following question: “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”. I couldn’t find an answer to that, but the prospect of still doing the same accounting job wasn’t very appealing. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to all of you accountants out there, it’s a very important job and I’ve met lots of people who are very enthusiastic about it. It’s just not what I’m passionate about.
What I’m passionate about is playing games. Like poker. So with André’s encouragement and support, I quit my job and went back to playing poker. This time, instead of regular sit’n’gos I chose to play the hyper-turbo satellites. It was very hard at the beginning, cause I was doubting myself and I was constantly wondering if I could make it. Most people start playing poker for fun, I started playing in order to make money, which only added more pressure. I kind of had it backwards, but you know what, I never regretted my decision.
I won’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t. Playing poker for a living is a bumpy ride with many ups and downs. But it comes with many advantages as well. Now I have the freedom of making my own schedule, going back to Greece to see my family and friends whenever I feel like it, traveling to poker destinations and spending quality time with my boyfriend. And more importantly: I enjoy what I do. My work is literally playing a game!
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was selected to join PokerStars Team Online! This is a great honor for me and I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m awake. It makes all my effort to get to this point worth it. I’m very proud of belonging to a team with such great players and amazing personalities! I hope I’ll inspire more people to start playing the game, especially women. Because after all, just because your boyfriend is a professional poker player doesn’t mean that you can’t be one yourself.