Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Nuts and Bolts of How I Ruined My Life, Part Two.

Second, in a continuing series:

The 1997 film Rounders culminates with Mike McDermott, the movie's protagonist, dropping out of law school to go to Las Vegas in order to pursue his destiny as a professional card player. The screenwriters of that movie probably couldn't have anticipated the explosion of internet poker that was right around the corner. But because of the ubiquity of online gaming and the massive amount of dead money floating around in the internet ether, the ceremonial journey to Vegas to make one's name in the poker world seems kind of quaint less than ten years later. Surely the new breed of Mike McDermotts are "making their runs at it" from the comfort of their dorm rooms.

What's this got to do with me? Thanks to online poker, I didn't have to make a conscious, visible choice to dedicate my life to gambling instead of law school. I could instead juggle the two endeavors. And by 'juggle', I mean remain nominally enrolled in law school while spending 10-15 hours daily playing poker online. I could lose my cake and eat it too!

Needless to say, this adversely affected my grade point average. I went from being a B+ student (pre-Party Poker) to a B student after. Yeah, law school is that easy. So why didn't I finish? Embarassingly, I blew my tuition money the second semester of my second year of school. Or more accurately, I blew my living expenses budget. They let students borrow about $8,000 per semester to cover non-tuition living expenses. They give it to you in one lump sum.

Follow the $8,000 closely, folks:

Taxpayers pay their taxes to the Federal Treasury. The Federal Treasury apportions money to the federal Stafford Loan program. Stafford then allocates funds to different universities for them to distribute. My university gives me my allocation in one lump sum. Then I give it to Party Poker. Party Poker gives most of it to other, more skilled poker players, and keeps a percentage for itself for its trouble. And of course, those talented people lucky enough to be Americans who withdrew their winnings from the site then report the income on their tax returns, and the circle of life begins anew.

Next installment: I repeat the above cycle (twice!), thereby exhausting all alternative sources of credit and making it impossible to remain enrolled in school.


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