Taking risk and assessing information quickly are elements of both trading and poker playing. Before a trader moves on a stock he might have to weigh the last trade, insider purchases or sale, a rumor on the Street, a news story, and so on within minutes or seconds. A skilled card player, similarly, looks at the odds of his hand being the winner, his opponents' prior hands and actions, his last bet and the look on an opponent's face.
Of course, playing online, where reading a face is impossible, requires a distinctly different approach, says one online poker enthusiast.
"Playing online poker is all about paying attention to the betting patterns of the people you are playing, and you get to know them by their alias," says Lee, a 42-year-old Manhattan real estate agent.
Having worked as a Catskills cabana boy growing up, Lee was around poker from a young age. But in 2004 Lee says he began to play nightly and on weekends to supplement his income (and because, he admits, is hooked). While he doesn't consider himself a pro he does view poker as a "part time job," and claims to pull down, in a good month, $3,000, with his worst month ever costing him $500.
Lee says he plays on PokerStars, mainly at $50 tables, accruing enough to buy into the nightly $100,000 tournament that carries a $162 buy in. Lee has played in PokerStars' weekly "Sunday Million" Sunday night game, once placing 200th out of around 8,000 people.
"Online poker is something anyone can do so it has become super, super competitive," one trader explains. "Trading is harder to break into. Anyone with a computer can get into online poker."
Says Boutin, "The way to get good at poker is just to play, constantly."
And to be a good money manager?
"You have to be able to take risk."