16

In 2009 I graduated with a degree in compsci, 3.0 gpa from an average school. I worked for a few professors as a research assistant doing fairly simple programming in C/C++. After graduating I found a better paying job at a different school. This job is hard to describe as my duties were all over the place, light programming, web development and a significant amount of work with adobe framemaker. This job paid well but the work environment was terrible. I quit in early 2011 with the intention of playing poker for a while (I had been a profitable player since 2006).

In both 2011 and 2012 I made over 100k. Some of this profit was from coaching and making videos for poker training sites but the majority from playing online. The truth is that im sick of playing, the game is slowly dying and the thought of being a 35 year old still playing poker for a living, if that is even possible, scares me (i am 26).

So, I want to get back into programming. I have been studying/programming small projects for the past 3 months and I am finding an incredible passion for it. I know for certain I want to develop for a living. Ive never felt this kind of drive. I am in no rush because of savings/supportive wife so I want to do this right.

My question is, how should I go about this? Should I include playing poker on my resume? I am proud of my poker accomplishments but I am scared they will be looked down upon from people thinking I am some sort of gambling addict. Putting nothing for 2.5 years would also look bad. I obviously will be taking a massive pay decrease, at this point id work for free if I thought it would open up some doors and set me up for a career.

Thanks for any insight you may have.

migrated from programmers.stackexchange.com Mar 23 '13 at 1:57

This question came from our site for professionals, academics, and students working within the systems development life cycle.

  • 1
    Have you considered working for one of the companies that write gaming software – Pepone Dec 1 '14 at 23:18
26

(Disclaimer: I am not a hiring manager or an HR professional.) Put down something, but come up with a professional sounding euphemism for it. Don't phrase it as just playing poker online. If you were financially successful at it, you were an entrepreneur. If you made a profit teaching other people how to do it, you were a consultant. And you were also a freelance video producer.

So for two years you were "an entrepeneur in the online gaming space, doing consulting and video production, while generating annual gross revenues in the low six figures". Sounds impressive to me. Some people might not like the fact that none of this involves programming, but you could always write some poker training/simulation software. Maybe even sell it online, and work as an independent software entrepreneur. (Sounds more fun than having to grovel in front of some HR professional about gaps in your resume.)

  • 1
    Excellent points. Day traders before the dot com but probably had the same issues. Professional Poker is much more respectable than just a gambler. Maybe the programming profession would prefer a professional video game player, but not by much. – user8365 Mar 24 '13 at 19:47
  • 1
    Oops! Didn't even think about that. From working in Nevada years ago, I was trained to always refer to the business of gambling as "the gaming industry". So for those who don't speak Nevadan, insert the "bl" back into "gam[bl]ing". – Joe Ballard Mar 24 '13 at 23:30
  • this answer is so great. I think its the best option, and I will be using it. – jsedano May 8 '13 at 21:51
  • 1
    I would tune this a bit. Don't over sell it so much. Put down "Self Employed". Then under that put your experience teaching, making self help videos, and I wouldn't hesitate to put 'Professional Poker Player'. If an employer has a hangup on this, it's going to come out somewhere along the line. Just be up front. You were good, it was fun, you made a run at it and now you are moving on. – Bill Leeper Dec 1 '14 at 18:12
  • 6
    Playing poker professionally is incredibly difficult. Have you considered going into option trading or another more respectable form of high-stakes gambling? – kevin cline Dec 1 '14 at 18:18
11

The goal of a resume is to get you an interview. People are rarely hired by their resume alone. You put things on your resume that will get you in the door. If playing poker will help you get that interview then include it on the resume. For the most part it will not. I would include the freelance training video production to show you had work, but not include playing games online professionally.

I would not be afraid of talking about the fact that you played poker professionally in an interview if it comes up. But it is not likely to help you get a job programming. So leave it off your resume.

10

In general, I agree with Joe -- the key is in addressing the issue appropriately.

What Does Google Say?

If you google your name, is something related to poker popping up on the first page of results? Put a little effort in to trying to find yourself on the internet and see what sorts of things are associated with your name.

If it pops up, the employer is going to know. It's just a matter of how to sell that experience.

What Does the Employer Want?

The goal of a well-designed resume will help the employer see how your skills will help them solve their problems. This is something that will vary greatly depending on the job you're applying to.

If you're applying to a company that designs interfaces for people doing online gam(bl)ing, then pointing out that you are an expert at those interfaces from a user point of view would be incredibly relevant.

If the employer is designing software for smaller business users and/or the self-employed, your experience with self-publishing (or publishing to smaller sites as the case may be) would be of great use as well.

Think about the broad skills you applied during your stint as a professional poker player, and find out how best to frame them within the context of the job you are applying for. Don't lie about where you got those skills, but focus the content of your resume on the skills you gained rather than how you gained them (at the end of the day, that's what counts, right?).

Not All Jobs will Fit

Realize that not every employer will be okay with your background.

Let's say your company designs database software for Gambler's Anonymous. You probably won't be a good fit for the company (regardless of if you are an addict or not) solely because of your association with online gambling.

If your company creates software for the government, they may not appreciate an employee who was involved in a gray area of the law (especially depending on if you were diligent about properly filing your taxes -- you were, right?).

Nobody is perfect for every job. C'est la vie.

On Revenues

One caution on saying "generating annual gross revenues in the low six figures" (or something similar) is that the employer (especially if they are paying a lower salary) may be concerned that you won't be satisfied with the pay.

Of course, not saying that you were successful doing it may make them wonder if you'd gambled away the house which is why you're looking for a job (something that may not appeal to employers as well).

I think this may be the biggest hurdle. A 26 year-old who isn't financially dependent on the company may seem like a much bigger risk for turnover.

At the end of the day...

Your resume is just a hurdle to get to a job interview. Once you get there, you have the chance to use your unique experience and skill set to really set yourself apart to the right company. So when you're crafting that resume, think about how best to frame yourself and your skills to get to that next step.

Personally I would see it as a huge plus, but I don't own any company that you're applying to. Best of luck in the search.

2

I think it really depends on the type of work and organization that you are targeting. With user experience being such a big deal these days, you might find it really easy to get into an online gambling company doing programming for them because you have good user insight/knowledge. It might work against you in organizations that are of a more commercial/corporate nature because they might think you like spending time doing things that are not considered to be in line with their image. Of course, these are all just assumptions, and you can go with either excluding the details or tailor the content so that it addresses the position description and company image better.

0

In 2007 I quit my job in IT working for a bank in the City of London and just played poker for a living. But ultimately Black Friday killed the games and in 2010 I started looking for a similar job. I had to put poker on my CV as otherwise I had no answer as to what I'd been doing. I found it very very difficult to get a job despite being very highly educated and having plenty of relevant experience. Eventually early in 2011 I found a group who was willing to take a chance on me. Even then I failed to pass all the employee checks because I could not document what I'd been doing (otherwise my record was spotless). Eventually the UK CEO and the global head of the group hiring me had to sign off my employment (!) As they'd both already interviewed me and given me a thumbs-up this wasn't a huge deal but it illustrates the amount of resistance you may encounter. I found that many employers did see it as a red flag while a few were more intrigued and were willing to interview me. However, given the generally negative experience I had, my advice would be to hide the poker if you can.

  • 4
    this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat Dec 1 '14 at 18:10
  • Presumably he should hide the poker behind his 'poker face'? ;-) – EleventhDoctor May 20 '15 at 15:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy