Tv writer for Weeds and Entourage etc., producer, professional poker player
Los Angeles, CA
Got into TV writing in the late 1990s. I've worked mostly on sitcoms, most notably Weeds and Entourage. I was an amateur poker player until 2012 when Weeds wrapped and I won a big tournament in Paris.
I didn't know what to do with my life in my 20s so to procrastinate I took a class in screenwriting. It was fun so I went with it and told my parents this is what I wanted to do with my life. I worked hard to make it happen. During my downtime in writing, I played poker for fun. When I made enough money in writing I tried playing big poker tournaments and found success in them, but that was after 9 years of losing as an amateur.
Both my jobs don't really have set schedules unless I'm working on a show in production or playing a poker tournament where you have to show up on time or else you'll lose. As a tv writer I write solo but when on a show, it's very collaborative. You work very closely with other depressed angry people who are pretty smart and you come up with cool stories to tell usually. Sometimes not so cool and those shows get cancelled. As a poker player, I travel all over the world depending on where a good tournament is taking place and if my bankroll and schedule deem it a worthy destination.
In writing the biggest challenge is coming up with an idea that's something compelling enough you can see yourself doing for at least 5 years. In poker the biggest challenge is always playing your best and continuing to learn from past mistakes in order to not make them in the future because they can be really costly. It's also really challenging in poker to know when to cut your losses or when to still take risks.
Favorite part of writing is when it's done and you get to make the show. It's torture up til then. In poker it's when you're winning and there's a lot of money on the line and you play your best and don't get unlucky. The camaraderie in poker is also fun, traveling with friends who are also your competitors makes for an interesting dynamic.
That they are both amazing jobs all the time. Both have a lot of pain that go with them. Writing is often rejection, criticism, and can be a grueling exercise. Poker is heartbreaking. The winners get the notoriety but the losers get nothing. Also just because someone wins a big tournament doesn't mean they get to keep a lot of the money. Most poker players have backers who take a large chunk of the wins, plus they owe those backers from the previous losses so there's a lot less money in the community than what it appears.
Fortunately, working as both a tv writer and poker player I've chosen 2 professions that require no dress code. This is especially good for me who likes to wear t shirts and track pants as much as possible. Jeans is dressing up for me.
I wouldn't advise anyone to go into tv writing or become a professional poker player. Most people don't make it, it's a grind, it's glamorized in ways that are deceptive and only a tiny percentage can carve out a career for themselves.
I wish I would have read more books and spent less time thinking I could have been a golf pro.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.
Martha Graham, choreographer
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