Better late than never

I was recently in Macau to play the Asia Championship of Poker. I wanted to share a story of someone I talked to on my way over -- a kind of inspiring story, I thought.

Before getting to Macau I had to stop in Hong Kong to do some business, and while I was there I took a cab. The way it works in Hong Kong, cab drivers at the airport usually have to queue up and wait for a long time to pick up passengers -- like an hour or hour-and-a-half. That guarantees them a long trip back to the city, but it takes a lot of time for them.

My cab driver struck up a conversation with me -- in English -- which turned out to be quite interesting. He was about 55 years old and originally from Hong Kong. I commented on how well he spoke English and asked him if he studied at university, but he said no, he hadn't. In fact, his formal education had ended at the age of 15 because he had to start working then to support his parents.

I asked him how he'd learned English so well and he explained how he'd always had a dream of writing a novel in English -- a thriller -- and so he took a few classes on the side when he could. He also over recent years would deliberately take the long trip to the airport to pick up passengers knowing he'd face that lengthy wait, and he uses the extra time to listen to tapes and further his study of English.

"You only live once," he explained to me, pointing out how as long as he was providing for his family and getting his work done, he felt like he could continue to pursue his dream of learning the language and eventually writing his book.

His story struck a nerve for me. I have a lot of friends who love to play poker and talk about wanting to become professional players, but they don't put in the time or effort to realize that dream. But if they really wanted to become better players and perhaps play full-time one day, they could find ways to study and work on their games.

I thought about my own situation, too, being a full-time pro, and how there are a lot of other things I'd like to pursue, though it's a challenge to find the time or have the energy to do those things. Often when I'm not playing I'm just watching a movie or television or something and not really taking advantage of my free time. But here he was basically telling me that I could do more, if I really wanted to.


The fact that the cab driver only learned English in the last 10-15 years was inspiring to me as well. That is to say, he only started to study the language in earnest by his 40s or so. I know a lot of people who reach that age might think it's too late to take on something like learning a language or writing a book or accomplishing some other big goal, but the cab driver was here proving otherwise.

"Better to arrive at your destination late than never," he said, adding how it was preferable at least to try something than not to and wonder what might have been. These are things you hear people say all the time -- how important it is to live your life without regrets and so on -- but there was something about the cab driver and the way he was delivering this message to me that really hit home.

So when you think some goal in life is beyond your reach, just think of the story of my cab driver who is willing to go the extra distance -- literally -- to try to achieve his dream.

Bryan Huang is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Bryan Huang
@PokerStars in Bryan Huang