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They say the biggest mistake that most people make with regards to their retirement is that they do not plan for it, but that is clearly not the case with Canadian Mike “Timex” MacDonald, who, at 18 years of age—still too young to even play in most U.S. casinos—is retiring from the world of professional poker.
McDonald is a proven talent in the world of professional poker. “Timex” has earned himself two money finishes and a final table at the World Series of Poker, and would achieve the same result on the World Poker Tour. While on the European Poker Tour, Mike snagged himself three final tables and has finished in the money seven times. As of 2011, his total live tournament winnings exceed $3,600,000.
But the time has come to move on. Regarding the retirement, Mike offered the following comments on his Cardrunners blog:
Poker came along and fairly quickly I was successful at it, and not too long after that I started to get good. I went to university for a year and really put many other aspects of my life to the side. I went from playing sports 4-10 times a week to maybe once or twice, didn’t really participate in any extracurricular activities, focused a lot less on school but in spite of all that I think it was most definitely the right thing to do. I had a fantastic opportunity to do something I enjoy, make lots of money and finally have an opportunity to truly excel at something.
After I turned 18 and could play the live circuit I did that, and I really enjoyed the free time, the opportunity to meet lots of people with the same common interest, the ability to see lots of new places. I started to get really good and fortunately after only ~5 months on the live circuit I won EPT Dortmund. I got to the point where I thought I was better than pretty much everyone and along with the success I had in tournaments I was doing extremely well in HU/shorthanded cash. After the 7 figure score I lost a fair bit of motivation to grind and went through a phase of playing very little poker. I was kind of at the point where I had made enough money that unless a couple really bad things happened, I had set myself up to be in a comfortable position for life. At this point I had more or less realized I would never be the best poker player since there were plenty of people who were smarter than me, had bigger egos than me and just legitimately enjoyed playing and learning poker more than I did. I still was very good but probably ~2 years ago is when I came to terms with the fact I would never be viewed as the #1 poker player in the world.
So anyways… at this point I arrive at the “where do I go from here” question that I asked in the title. I honestly don’t know but I think at least setting myself up to be in positions to find things I’m passionate about is probably the right approach. I recently began talking with a friend about a business idea that we’d consider starting in the next few years and although I was originally just thinking my involvement would be limited to investment, I’m now realizing that this is the type of thing that could highly interest me. I think returning to school and trying out a super wide variety of courses, learning new things, meeting new people and just beginning to live a life that is more in touch with everyone else seems aligned with my interests. I currently am trying to get in touch with the University of Waterloo about possibly taking some classes this summer, and depending on how that goes may return to Waterloo or another university in the fall.
It’s hard to imagine how someone could get bored with winning millions of dollars, but if poker has consumed most of your free time from an early age, it’s relatively easy to see why spending some quality time at school, and with friends, might need to take precedence.
What do you think? Will Mike make a triumphant return to the world of poker, or is he truly done forever? For a hard-core gamer of any variety, is the game ever truly over?
Simon is a writer and content specialist who is addicted to being on the front page of anything. A graduate of Dalhousie University, he specializes in using the em dash too often. Currently, Simon rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada. Check out a recent example of his work here.