Arguably the best tournament poker player who is till not legal to play in most U.S. casinos has stated on his cardrunners blog that he is now retiring from poker. Mike “Timex / Hit21Hit” McDonald, a canadian poker pro, at age 20 has a huge poker resume. At 18 years of age, McDonald won the EPT German Open in Dortmund, Germany in February 2008 winning €933,600 ($1,370,161). Earlier in January the same year, he also won the A$1,000 PokerPro No Limit Hold’em preliminary event at the Aussie Millions and coming runner up in another preliminary event. Earlier this year he won a $1500 NAPT Caribbean Poker Adventure PokerStars EPT/ Season 6 LAPT/ event $146,804.
Here is some of his blog posts which can be found on the online poker training site Cardrunners in which he is a featured coach there.
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, focussed 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.
My guess is that Mike is just taking an extended break and will come back strong in time for the 2011 WSOP where he will be eligible to play. He’s got money now, is already a smart guy, and will look to find other ways to build his bankroll. Best of luck Mike, and we’ll see you again soon!