Assani Fisher was once a successful poker player.
Online, he won more than $600,000 playing tournaments under the name "jwvdcw" on PokerStars, according to PocketFives. His live results were more modest, with cashes totaling $83,847, but without online poker stateside, Fisher had transitioned into grinding $2/$5 live games for a living.
He had failed to set himself up for the long haul despite winning results over a number of years.
"I got in at the right time and should have made a lot of money," he said. "But I was just young and stupid and played above my bankroll, etc."
Then, he found daily fantasy sports and his life changed. Along with his friend Aaron "aejones" Jones, Fisher has found huge financial success in DFS. He's now the No. 7 ranked player on popular DFS site RotoGrinders, where he also hosts a recurring series of video blogs.
Fisher's back on the felt now though, grinding out a few tournaments during a trip to the 2016 World Series of Poker. He arrived in Las Vegas about two weeks ago intending to play two or three tournaments in a week. Instead, he's been firing off at full throttle, playing almost every day and finding himself buying in six or seven times per week.
"I'm enjoying this," he said with a wide smile. "I like being a rich amateur now who doesn't have to make money from poker."
For many, poker is a dream job. But it's a job Fisher has had, and many players have admitted over the years that their love of the game fades as they continue to use it to grind out a living day after day.
When asked if the game is more enjoyable for him now than it used to be, Fisher said it's “not even close.”
“I don't sweat it if I make mistakes any more, it's much more relaxing,” he said. “I was shocked at how enjoyable poker is now.”
Thus far, Fisher has booked just one cash in the 2016 WSOP, coming 22nd in the $5,000 turbo for $14,862. He and Jones found themselves in the winner's circle Sunday, but it was for good friend Andrew Lichtenberger, who shipped the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for $569,158.
Fisher admits his poker chops aren't what they used to be, though he hasn't been afraid to mix it up with some of the world's best tournament players, such as when he fired in the $10,000 Six-Max Championship.
He called himself a fish in that event, but he's figured out at least one way to minimize the edge some of the more skilled pros have over him: late registration. Fisher's been entering most of the tournaments just before the dinner break, when stacks are a little bit shorter and decisions are a bit less complicated.
Fisher's game is rusty, and his mind doesn't instantly process complex ranges like it used to when he was a professional poker player, putting in the work to maximize his understanding of the game. He doesn't play much online any more, and his live ventures are limited to the occasional tournament series, as he finds cash too boring now.
Nowadays, it's DFS that takes up the majority of his time. When he first latched on to the burgeoning industry, like many poker players who made the transition, Fisher found himself in familiar lifestyle territory.
“I needed to do a lot of work and learn everything,” he said. “It was like being an online poker pro, a lot of grinding in a room by yourself. Now that I've got the process down, I can work only four-to-five hours a day.”
Fisher paused briefly when asked if he missed anything about his old poker lifestyle.
“Bits and pieces but overall no,” he said. “[DFS is] much more relaxed and enjoyable, and the money's better so it feels unfair.”
Another similarity between poker and DFS is the continued wars over the legality of both games. Ironically, the very same bill that the U.S. government used to shut down popular online poker sites was used as a sort of legal loophole to justify the initial existence of DFS.
Legislation for both of Fisher's pastimes continues to come on a state-by-state basis. DFS legislation has been at the forefront after a number of controversies, while the battle for legalized online poker continues in states like California, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Fisher hopes lawmakers will come to their senses on both games.
“Obviously, they should both be legal,” he said. “Adults should be free to do what they want. It's all political, a bunch of bull****.”
As the 2016 WSOP rolls on, be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for continued coverage, brought to you by our sponsors, 888poker.