Before I got married, I had been living in Macau for about three and a half years. Since then, I am close to buying an apartment in Singapore & Hong Kong for my family. My days shuttling between Macau and the rest of the world are in the past.
You might think it's strange that an Asia-based poker player is moving away from Macau but it's part of a bigger transition in my life. I enjoy Macau a lot more now when I come back every few months for a short visit. It's hard to lead a normal life there. Going there once in a while is fine but I feel that staying there for too long will suck you dry.
Settling down is at the front of my mind since I got married. My wife and I will want to start a family at some point. We're thinking longer-term these days. When we go apartment hunting, we ask ourselves, "If we had kids, is there a place for the kids to play? Is there a good school nearby?" We're thinking 10 to 12 years ahead, whereas in the past it was only 6 or 12 months ahead.
At the same time, the purchase of two apartments does not come without some sacrifice. As a poker player, it's not easy to get financing to buy a home. Banks want to finance people with traditional jobs, and poker playing isn't a traditional job. For the place in Singapore & Hong Kong, I'll likely have to pay 40% or 50% of the price as a down payment. These purchases would affect my bankroll drastically!
In the past, my plan was to keep investing winnings in bankroll and myself. I kept an emergency fund aside but for the most part all of my winnings were re-invested in my bankroll if not poker related ventures.
Now I'm at a new stage of life. If I were to go broke tomorrow, I want to be able to look back at four years of professional playing and have something to show for it. I want to be able to say, "At least I have my home sorted out and my family and I have a roof over our heads."
I've always bankrolled myself for most events but investing the majority of my bankroll in these apartments will mean a step down in stakes or selling pieces of myself. Who plays poker without believing that him/her is good enough to beat the field? That is why I dislike selling pieces of myself but that's the only way I can make sure I can continue playing and be properly bankrolled.
Games in Asia have remained small the last few years but things are starting to change. With this year's ACOP, the buy-ins are getting bigger. With the shifting priorities I have in life it is more important now than ever to watch my bankroll and make sure I'm not experiencing too much variance.
I'm not happy about moving down in stakes or selling pieces of myself but as they say, "A man's got to do what a man's got to do." As poker players we must learn to manage risk especially when our priorities in life change.
Bryan Huang is a member of Team PokerStars Pro