There's no shortage of civilians who want to quit their boring 9-to-5 jobs to become a poker pro and gamble full time. But you don't see too many poker pros quitting the circuit to take a desk job. Yet that's exactly the path that Ludovic Lacay followed. Lacay joined the ranks of former pros who took a shot in the business sector. Late last year, Vanessa Selbst stepped away from poker to work in a hedge fund, while Lacay ventured into the start-up realm to blaze a new path. Lacay was recently profiled in Business Insider, which described his foray into a London-based health start-up called Tictrac.
Lacay, originally from Toulouse, France, cut his teeth as an online grinder when he was only 19 years old. He described his style as "geeky", which pretty much describes every online phenom from the mid-2000s. Lacay's story was very similar to a lot of internet pros who accelerated the learning curve by grinding countless hours. After he made a name for himself as an up-and-coming pro, the online rooms came calling and Lacay signed a sponsorship deal with Winamax.
Between 2007 and 2013, Lacay banked over $3 million in live tournaments. Lacay's biggest score occurred in October 2012 when he shipped the EPT San Remo for $961K. Lacay went deep at the 2009 WSOP Main Event when he cashed in 16th place out of 6,494 runners. Joe Cada won that year, but Lacay banked $500K for his super-deep WSOP run.
It's rarely the pressures of playing poker that make things sour for a seasoned pro. Rather, it's the road that utterly destroys your soul. Lacay was a road warrior who racked up countless air miles flying all over the globe to play on the international circuit. One day it's Barcelona. The next it's London. Then off to Las Vegas. Then back to Europe. Then to Morocco. Then to Monte Carlo. And back to Paris, before flying to Vegas. The life seems more glamorous than it appears on social media. Along the way, you have to look over your shoulder to make sure you're not gonna get jacked. Meanwhile, you deal with the worst aspects of traveling such as isolation, loneliness, insanely long lines at airports, maids barging into your room (despite the DO NOT DISTURB sign in full view), and waking up in strange places due to your circadian rhythms out of whack from jumping too many time zones.
According to the article in Business Insider, "Lacay started traveling a lot, which is something he didn't enjoy as you might think. Mostly it was frenetic, restless travel, where he wouldn't do much outside of playing poker."
It seems that Lacay had a James Murphy moment at the age of 28. James Murphy, the front man for LCD Soundsystem, made a splash with his hit song Losing My Edge, which Murphy wrote as a response to turning 40 as an aging hipster DJ who had to compete with more talented kids half his age. In the online poker realm, Lacay felt he had aged himself out after a decade of grinding. Lacay realized that there was a new generation of players (ho hum, the Germans led by Fedor Holz) who were taking the poker world by storm. Maybe it was time to move onto other ventures?
According to Business Insider, "Lacay eventually realised that, at the top of his game, he wouldn't have had anywhere to go but downhill. At the age of 28 he started to look around him, and saw that a new generation of players was coming along to take over the game."
With enough money in the bank to pursue other interests, Lacay shifted his focus to the business world. He considered an MBA for a hot minute before he settled on an internship at Tictrac, where a friend was working. The healthcare startup based in London was similar to the health app on your Apple watch. The prospect of not earning any money did not deter Lacay, who dove head first into Tictrac as an unpaid intern. He began in market research, which was a great primer for him to learn the intricacies of the company. Lacay paid his dues with 15-hour work days and nonstop immersion into the data collected by Tictrac. Lacay proved he was a value asset to the start-up and he eventually earned a paid position as product manager.
Lacay utilized his experience at the tables and applied poker skills to his new position, mostly in analyzing data and seeking out how to improve upon their current status. Many companies want to give poker pros a shot because they have quick analytical skills and understand the concept of adapting to ever-changing market conditions. In Lacay's case, a lot of his on the felt skills translated into becoming a savvy product manager. As a result, many of the changes Lacay implemented benefited Tictrac.
These days, Lacay plays poker for fun but his primary focus is Tictrac. Lacay has now joined the ranks of former poker pros who left the game and moved into the business/tech realm like American pros Chris Fargis, Jason Strasser, and Vanessa Selbst.
Read the full article here.