The Evolution of a Spiritual Poker Player and Entrepreneur

This post contains snippets out of my life that I have never revealed before. Some because I just forgot about them and others because of fear.

One of my earliest memories includes me walking to the living room in my parents house, staring at the closed, gray drapes and asking “why am I me?”

I grew up in a family of four. My childhood years consisted of hanging out, dabbling in music, and playing ice hockey.

My teenage years were filled with dark clothes, dark music, and a lot of time spent in front of the computer.

At one point, I contemplated the purposelessness of life. I asked myself what the point of this all is. We’re born, we go to school, we get a job, maybe get married, buy a house, and you know the rest.

It didn’t seem right to me from the beginning. I felt depressed just thinking about living a life like this. It wasn’t for me, but I didn’t realize that until later.

The Beginning of the End

I eventually got into building websites. I built my first website when I was 14. I managed to get it up to 300 unique visitors a day through banner and link exchanges. I made my first $500 or so online through that website.

It was a taste of what was possible.

Shortly thereafter I gave up building websites. I started learning about the stock market. I was fascinated by all things that had to do with money.

I also become highly curious about topics such as lucid dreaming, how our subconscious works and anything esoteric. I devoured everything I could find on the subject. And while I didn’t get serious with any of it, the feeling of there being something else than meets the eye stuck with me.

It wasn’t until I was working my second summer job washing boxes that I bumped into poker. A friend of a friend had made $500 playing online poker, and I got curious.

How I Turned $0 into $100,000+

The only impression of poker I had at that time was how dangerous it was. I imagined old, bearded gangsters and hustlers sitting in a smoke-filled back room somewhere in Texas. You know, the typical image you get from watching too many movies.

Despite all this, I felt drawn to learn more about it, so I bought a book about how to become a successful online poker player. It looked easy enough, I thought.

I started playing free tournaments (a.k.a freerolls) on online poker sites. You could enter for free, and you could win anywhere from $1 to $500 depending on the generosity of the poker room. Freerolls are a common promotion tactic used by almost all online poker rooms.

I entered one after the other for about two weeks until I won a dollar. I then quickly lost that dollar. I repeated this cycle until I started feeling like there was no hope, but still something kept nudging me forward.

After taking a few weeks break, I woke up one day more determined than ever. Things didn’t go as planned that first day, but after a few days, I won $1.5, and I took it to the real-money tables, and I doubled it.

After that I’ve never looked back. I turned that free $1.5 to $50, then $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, and the rest, as they say, is history.

(note: my story may not be 100% accurate, because I do not remember all the details, but I’m pretty sure this is exactly what happened.)

A Gambler’s Perspective

When you think of a poker player, you probably think of a gambler; someone who can’t control what they’re doing.

I was nothing like that.

I was calculative, conservative, and careful. On top of that, I meditated regularly, believed in weird stuff, and did yoga. Poker was my job. I played because that is how I made my living.  I was a rare breed; a spiritual poker player.

The view people have of making a living playing poker is often deeply flawed. A quote that encapsulates it all perfectly goes something like this: “poker is a hard way to make an easy living.”

Poker is a game of skill, but it involves a lot of luck, which means that you can run into long streaks of bad luck. This is where the game can get especially treacherous, because you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re playing well and getting unlucky, when you are really off your game.

The psychological stress of the game is tremendous when it is your sole source of income. That is why the above seemingly contradictory quote is so spot on.

I’ve played millions of hands of poker, and I’ve gone through periods where I’ve looked up at the sky and asked “why?”

I have gone months without earning a penny. Those times really put me to the test as a person. I learned to build a support group around me that helped make sure that I’m on top of my game, and not doing anything stupid.

I learned discipline. I learned how I worked as a person, and I learned to manage myself, because there was no one watching over me.

Poker was great. It taught me a lot, and I grew tremendously as a person, but the psychological part of it didn’t vibe with me. After five years of playing, I started feeling a pull in another direction, and I decided to stop playing cold-turkey.

My heart was pulling me towards something bigger, something more important. I wanted to write, help, connect, and create. I wanted to do what I am doing now.

The Shift

In March ’09, I had some savings in my account that would keep me going for a while, so I decided to take the leap. I stopped playing poker and jumped into full-time website building.

With the exception of when I was 14, I had dabbled with websites since ’06, but nothing serious. I failed many times and wasted thousands of dollars, but it wasn’t until I finally decided to go 110% that it clicked for me.

It took me around 3 months to start making $500/month, but within 12 months, I was already making close to $2,000/month, and today I’m making between $3,500-$5,000/month. I don’t remember the exact numbers, so I might be off here and there.

I was frustrated, scared, and overwhelmed, but I had one thing going for me: I was determined. I wasn’t going to give up.

I picked one thing, I put all my focus into building one site, and I made it work. I built upon that first success, and I went from niche websites to article marketing, and finally to blogging.

It has been an interesting journey, and if anything, it has taught me to be okay with non-perfection. The sooner I start taking action, the more I learn, and the more clear everything becomes.

What I talk about on this blog comes straight from my personal experience. If you’re just starting out, I know exactly where you’re coming from, because I was there not too long ago.

You can do what you love, but it takes hard work.

The Red Thread

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been different. As the years have gone by, I have become more confident with being who I really am.

I’ve always been against the status quo, and I naturally fell into an unconventional lifestyle. I’ve never worked a real job in my life. I’ve been doing this for over six years now, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I am extremely grateful for the freedom I have. It allows me to do what I love, grow spiritually, and in general, enjoy life to its fullest.

What can I say; I love my life!

Images by Trey, Kevin & Teb

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Comments

  1. So good to read someone saying that they love their life. You give your nice and honest recipe of your path. That´s a nice way to start the week, wondering about someone´s success and focusing on our own.

    • Sometimes watching the path of others can give us valuable insights. It’s definitely something I do often.

  2. Thank you for continuing to inspire and enlighten us, Henri.

  3. Henri, your honesty is powerful, uplifting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your life, it gives me the courage I need.

  4. Love your story, Henri. You are an epoch maker… An epoch is a period in one’s life history where significant changes occur. Creating a new epoch requires consciously setting new aspirations and aims that challenge how you regularly do things. This is great reminder that we all have that ability within.

    • It’s been tough through the transitions for me, but in a sense it felt natural, because I just followed what felt right.

  5. This sounds almost exactly like my path was… minus the yoga, of course. And yes, I’ve had the exact feeling of looking up at the sky yelling “why me?” when variance came rearing its ugly head for three different 9-1 beats in a single session.

  6. Nadia - Happy Lotus Lifestyles says:

    Hi Henri,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I did not want the post to end at all. It was beautiful.

    I loved what you wrote about how you can have a life that you love but you also have to be willing to do the work. That is so true. I think anything in life is possible if a person wants it badly enough.

    And amen for loving life! Wishing you all the success in the world, my friend! I have no doubt you will achieve all that you set out to do.

  7. Wow!! You love your life.

    Freedom to do the things i love is one of the things i cherish most in my life and i’m seriously working towards making that goal a reality. I can’t wait to travel the world, and get myself involved in community development program and contribute to the development of my country. Bill Gates is living the kind of life i want to live. Your path to success is truly a life learning one. You learnt so much while growing up.

    Coming from you ”You can do what you love, but it takes hard work.” – Can you please share your kind of hard work experience?

    When you concentrated all of your effort on building one site, what kind of site was that? What strategies are you currently employing that is helping you net $3,500-$5,000/month?

    Henri, you’re truly inspiring. Awesome post.

    • When I say hard work, I just mean that you have to put in a lot of time to create the life you want. I think I define hard work differently than many. I love the work I do, so working hard is not a problem for me, it’s a joy.

      I will be sharing more about how I make a living online in future posts, as well as sharing how I go about doing that, so stay tuned!

  8. I love these kind of stories. I love the way common people become what they want, and provide themselves a destiny. Excellent, Henri, I see lately you’re absolutely inspired.

  9. Hey Henri,

    It’s great to see you and your skills develop with Wake Up Cloud. You’re a true success story: going from $500-about $5000? Awesome.

    If it isn’t too forward, can I ask how exactly you’re earning it? Ebooks? Consultation? Niche sites?

  10. That is impressive Henri. I really need to learn more about computers. Where is a good place to go, in a short period of time, to learn how to build websites?

    • What kind of websites do you want to learn to build, Shelly? If you want to learn how to get a blog up, which is a start, you can check out BecomeABlogger.com, they have 10 free videos on the topic.

  11. It’s great to learn more about you Henri – it’s a really inspiring read and I appreciate you putting yourself out there to help others learn.
    Jen

  12. Ahmad Fadli KC says:

    Hey Henri,

    I really admire your level of transparency and honesty in your writings.

    It is something that I try to achieve now and then.

    I have been toying with the idea of making money online since I don’t know when. I attended a course on making money from blogging yet I haven’t really get myself to do it.

    Maybe I need to get over the fear of the steep learning curve first….

    • It can seem steep, which is why I like to break it down to make it more manageable. You don’t have to learn it all when you get started, only a fraction. If you keep at it, it’ll click sooner or later!

  13. That was a real interesting story and I love your story Henri, You have travelled a journey which i have been dreaming of for almost 2 decades, never tried doing all that I have been dreaming. for the last six months of I have been following your website and your weekly updates, I can see a gread deal of improvement in your writing style and using simple words to exotic words. You have been awesome motivator, thank you vey much for your weekly updates, you are igniting the desire in me to write and follow my passion. Your articles gives me confidence to go ahead and start writing even before I become fluent with English language . I wish you and me a long association with each other .

    • Hey Anilkumar! I think your English is more than enough to start writing. There are a lot of people that started blogging just to learn English. Oscar Del Ben is one of those people, and he’s rocking it, so don’t worry about your English!

  14. Hey dude,
    very cool to read your story. I have a friend with a similar poker story, turning $50 into high 6 figures. It’s a crazy world out there, knowing there are 18 year old kids who play at tables with tens of thousands of dollars for a single pot.

    Congrats on the success online, that’s pretty damn impressive!
    I’m still at the early stages and only making $500-$1000 a month.

    Not going to give up though, I’ll get to where I want to be!
    Cheers
    Diggy

    • Yeah, the possibilities are almost limitless nowadays if you’re determined, and willing to put some effort into what you do.

  15. Henri,
    As always I am inspired by you and this post is especially close to my heart. It is impressive how you transcend your life into higher purpose.

  16. Archan Mehta says:

    Henri,

    You are good at playing to your strengths.

    For example, you show your vulnerability. Readers like to learn about how you picked yourself up and dusted yourself off and got back in the game. That’s life for a lot of your readers too.

    Keep on sharing personal details about your life, that is, whatever you feel comfortable with. When you reveal, that shows us how unique you are and differentiates you from everybody else out there with a BigMac story.

    Instead of BigMac stories, we like to read about unique stories which bring out the personality of the blogger. That’s also why your blog is getting more popular, me thinks. You make it a point to make the connection between your personal life and your professional success. Thanks.