Fedor Holz recently continued his insane 2016 run after winning the €50,000 EPT Barcelona High Roller for $1.47 million USD. Yes, the same Fedor Holz that has claimed to be “retired” from poker since winning the One Drop High Roller at the 2016 WSOP.
Few of us actually believed Holz when he said that he was going to retire from the game, but we are still having fun saying that the “retired” Holz won yet another milly. However, this does beg the question of what it means to be retired from poker. Let’s take a quick look at what that means and some reasons why pros chose to retire from the game.
My first tournament win as a recreational! 😇 pic.twitter.com/rsVUFAc5SA— Fedor Holz (@CrownUpGuy) August 22, 2016
Retirement from Poker Defined
What does it mean to be “retired” from poker. Basically, to be retired from poker means that you have effectively stepped away from your primary mode of poker playing and that the game is no longer a significant source of your income.
The later is sometimes more important than the former based on one’s relative skill. For example, a poker player that has greatly reduced their time at the tables but still can earn a significant portion of their income during the times that they actually play is hardly a retired poker player.
It is also important to point out that a poker pro that makes a large portion of their income from business ventures isn’t considered a retired player. Many of these players are still playing regularly but they are in situations where they have a lot of “variance free” income coming in. Players like Phil Hellmuth are masters of this sort of thing.
Ultimately, your retired “pro” players rarely show up to major events anymore and when they do, you will likely be able to learn all about their other ventures in life. Alex Jacob is a prime example of such a retired player.
While we are at it, it can’t hurt to take a quick look at the reasons why pro poker players choose to retire. Below are two common and two uncommon reasons that poker pros go into retirement.
Common – They Retired Due to Inability to Make a Living at Poker
This is the most common reason you see “pro poker players” retire from the game. They might make money at the game for a while but then they hit an extended losing streak or they find that poker isn’t giving them the quality of life they desire.
Some poker players will live a more frugal existence to continue playing the game they love, but for many there comes a time where they have to call it a career and take on another occupation.
That doesn’t mean they will give up playing poker recreationally, but it will no longer be their primary source of income.
Common – Life Circumstances Force them to Retire from Poker
It is a helluva lot easier to be a poker pro when you’re single or when you are not facing certain responsibilities of life. Some players get married and they choose their relationship over poker. Others decide to start a family and find it impossible to play poker full-time and raise their family.
Other things may impact one’s ability to play professionally, such as taking care of a loved one or even business ventures. These life circumstances forces one to step away from playing full-time. They may still be a winning player but for many of us, there’s more to life than poker, and that’s OK!
Uncommon – They Retire Because they Become Financially Secure From Poker
How often do you hear of a poker player that becomes financially stable from poker, retires, and rides off into the sunset for good. That’s because it rarely happens. Most players that become “financially secure” in the game still continue to play or they may walk away for a while and then return.
The likes of Pius Heinz and Peter Eastgate are rare. Most often, you get someone like James Akenhead that leaves the game but then returns later, typically after a few months or a year.
Uncommon – Forced to Retire Due to Scandal
On occasion you have players that have to leave the game due to some type of scandal. Some well-known examples of this include Russ Hamilton, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Annie Duke and Girah.
The poker community is quick to overlook or forgive most offenses by poker players but some things, such as cheating, are unforgivable. Some players self-banish themselves while others such as Hamilton know they will never be a significant part of the poker community ever again.