The Next Chapter

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”
–Professor Irwin Corey
(continued from Part 1)
I tightened the knot on my tie, using the windshield as a mirror. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d had a face-to-face job interview, and it felt good to be a little nervous. It brought back that sensation I had before the first football game of the season– as the season wears on, and your body wears out, you lose that nervousness. After the 10th game or so, your body has learned to conserve as much energy as possible, and your nerves reach a level of fatigue where they just don’t come alive anymore.
But I had a few flutters in my blood, and I took that as a good sign. I always played better when I was a little nervous, and seemed to perform better under pressure. I put my trusty laptop under my arm and walked to the front of the massive office building, wondering how I’d ended up here. A cloud of hair and an air of assurance caught my eye, and I was jolted from my football memories.
“Chris– I’m Henry, we met at the World Series last year,” I said to the long haired man.
“Hey… nice to see you…” said the man called Jesus, with wizard-like eyes that were usually hidden.
“I’m here for an interview…”
“Ahh, ok, I’m headed up right now. I’ll show you in.”
A few minutes later I was seated in the office of the head of the software company behind a prominent online poker site, sitting face-to-face with a World Series of Poker champion. I wondered what was going on in his head, and despite his friendliness, couldn’t help but think that if I was trying to bluff him out of a pot, those eyes would see right through me. We spoke of the online poker industry, the current poker craze, and of course, poker blogs. He asked for the address of this little poker blog, and I watched him type in the URL. The familiar old banner at the top of the page came up, and Jesus got a tour of the site.
I mentioned the popularity of Guinness and Poker, and soon that garish orange template popped up on the huge monitor, lighting up the room. Jesus quickly scrolled down, and stopped scrolling when one of the horrid images (that Iggy graciously shares with us) filled the screen. His poker face didn’t crack, but I thought I detected a slight groan coming from the poker superstar. Before I was forced to come up with an explanation, the door opened, and in strode the CEO. I felt like I’d sucked out on the river.
The conversation turned to poker on the web and I felt right at home. After two years of reading RGP and thousands of poker blog posts, I was amazed at all of the (seemingly useless) poker knowledge that I’d accumulated. We discussed the future of Full Tilt, the astronomical popularity of poker, and the 2005 World Series of Poker. I had to pinch myself as a reminder that this was a job interview.
I was thoroughly impressed with the vision and knowledge of the CEO, and it seemed that Jesus’ super-sharp mind absorbed and digested everything I said immediately. Unlike my current job, the people running the company not only listened to what I was saying, but seemed genuinely interested.
We finished the interview, and I walked out of the office thinking about how cool it would be to work in poker with a team of super poker minds full time. I felt like I had a lot to offer to their web site, and it seemed like a great opportunity. As I hopped into my car and drove back to work, I silently thanked RDub and Rafe, hoping I could return the favor at some point. Even if nothing came of this, it was a great experience and an inside look at the world that I write about and play in for many of my waking hours.
Decisions, Decisions
That night, I felt the stress of an impending decision that would be difficult. As far as “career paths” go (if you believe in that sort of thing), my career had been quickly progressing up the ladder in the medical IT industry, and the future on that path seemed pretty bright. I’d been published in the biggest IT medical journal, and I was just getting started on a big clinical application that was sure to help clinicians do their job more efficiently. One of the reasons I’d always preferred medical IT to say, game development, is that it seemed like it was for a great “cause”. If I did get an offer from the online poker site, it would be a complete change of direction career wise.
But I thought about the current explosion of poker, and my love for the game, and thought, “How could I turn this job down?” It would be a once in a lifetime chance, and if I succeeded, I could be an integral part of building up this new company full of bright and interesting people. It was just such a great opportunity.
With these thoughts going through my head, I tossed and turns for a few nights wondering what the future held. It didn’t help that my boss (who has always been extremely generous and supportive in my time at the hospital) offered me a position as a lead developer as we move forward with our healthcare portal after I told her about my interview with the online poker site.
Then I heard the ding of the “incoming mail” sound, and as I read the offer it felt a bit like the time my opponent came over the top of my top-pair, top-kicker for all his money in a pot-limit game in the biggest pot I’d ever played. The poker site had put me to the test, and it was time to make a decision.
It was a stressful couple of days, and the phrase that kept coming back to me was, “How could I turn down an offer like this?” The opportunity just seemed to good: working with brilliant people in a small company where hard work is well-rewarded… a stark contrast from the non-profit world of the hospital, a world filled with bureacracy and politics where progress goes at a snail’s pace.
In the end, the opportunity was too good to pass up. So starting on January 31st, I’ll be embarking on a new path with the software company behind one of the biggest online poker sites. Without this blog and the support of all you readers out there, I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity, so a big thanks goes out to everybody. I’ve worked hard on this blog for over a year now, and I guess the hard work has finally paid off. I’m a big believer that hard work will always pay off in one way or another (and it never hurts to have a little luck), and I think this opportunity is in part a product of that hard work. The support and insight of my fellow bloggers and readers has been a huge help in keeping this site alive, and I can’t express my gratitude enough for that. Thanks for reading.

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