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Gambling Man

By Megan Kinneyn | May 2, 2007

Law Office Management

May 2, 2007

Gambling Man

Can law school make you a better gambler? By Leslie A. Gordon

By Leslie A. Gordon
      Edited by Martin Lasden
      Greg Byard works 2,000 hours a year and has earned a total of $600,000 since 2004. Pretty good, considering he isn't even practicing law. The '01 Hastings College of the Law graduate earns his living playing online poker.
      "I figured out halfway through law school that law wasn't for me," explains Byard, 34. So, when the small San Francisco law firm that had hired him in 2001 laid him off in 2002, he wasn't exactly brokenhearted.
      At first, Byard studied poker as "a fun new challenge." But what he originally thought was just a game about bluffing turned out to involve logic, probability, and pattern recognition. "I could be good at this," he thought.
      He started off playing small-stakes games online and promptly lost $300. He then read online advice forums and analyzed his early mistakes, using software that downloads the hands of other players. His strategy starting out was simple: Bet when you have a good hand, and don't bluff.
      When Byard got good enough that he was making about $25 an hour at poker, he ditched the freelance legal work he was doing and decided to become a full-time player.
      Nowadays, Byard plays Texas hold 'em ten hours daily on poker Using a 30-inch flat-screen monitor, he plays nine tables at once. Each game takes 45 minutes.
      "For 99 percent of people, this is the wrong thing to do, even if you have the skill and aptitude," Byard says. "But I enjoy the challenge." Byard also thinks that his legal training gives him an edge. "Poker involves thinking quickly and making decisions on your feet?like a trial lawyer." Still, as long he can make a living at cards, he has no intention of going back to the law.

Megan Kinneyn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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