Kristy Arnett – What Losing $20,000 (Without Playing a Hand) Taught Me About Failure

Late last year, I lost $20,000 of my family and I’s money. It wasn’t playing poker, but it was certainly a gamble. But I’m not considering it a failure. Here’s why:

As a professional poker player, I have had to redefine my definition of failure. Losing in a cash game session, bubbling a tournament, or having a losing month could all be considered failures. But what if they are simply inevitable? If variance dictates these events will occur, why call them failures?

It got me thinking – failure in all parts of life is inevitable as well, especially if we are attempting big success. Leaving our comfort zones, trying something different, taking a new job, relocating, and even dating, are all risks. But this is where all the fun in life happens.

It’s exciting and scary and sometimes we fall flat on our faces. Let’s be real, the exhilaration is partly why we started playing poker in the first place, right?

You’re Probably Wondering How I Lost that $20k

So back to how I lost $20,000. I met someone through poker who had an idea for a mobile app that I thought was great.

It was for on-demand mentoring. The idea was that at any given time, you could log onto an app and hire a coach for your needs. Let’s say you just ended a poker session and you had some hands to go over. You could log-on, find a poker coach, and have a session through the app.

kristy podcast

If only it was this easy

The guy with the idea was incredible charismatic, flattering to myself and excited about the idea. I got excited too.

He had given me the impression that there were already big investors committed for a lot of money. My family and I invested $20,000 and I began working with the company. It by far the biggest financial risk I’d ever taken, but the thought of the possible return was thrilling.

The dream didn’t last for long, as my gut pretty quickly kicked in. I knew something wasn’t right.

For awhile though, I was in denial and tried to make it work. It all fell apart after I confronted him about many discrepancies, and he admitted to taking nearly my entire family’s investment as a personal paycheck.

Turns out there were no other investors except for one for $2,000. (To hear the full story with all the details, check out Kristy’s podcast here or at the bottom of the page)

Most people would label this as a pretty epic failure. I’ve been tempted to as well. But then I thought, if I redefined failure before, why can’t I do it again?

If it is all subjective anyway, why define anything as a failure? As long as you learn and grow, why can’t it be considered a success?

Because I can tell you one thing, I’ll never make some of those mistakes again. If I decided to invest in a business again tomorrow, I would:

  • Have a lawyer look over everything in depth
  • Realize that investing in a company means investing in people because execution is everything. Had I better known the person I was investing in (and his partner), I wouldn’t come near them with any of my money

If you’ve gone a year without winning in poker, if you lose an investment, if you start a business that fails, if you get a divorce- What did it teach you?

Are you a better player/person than you were before that year? Did you learn anything about yourself or about people? What life lessons are you taking away from the experience?

Understanding that failure and success can be shifted based on what we choose to focus on gives us the freedom to continue taking risks! Just knowing as long as we learn, have fun, and become better people from the experience, no matter the result, it’s gonna be all good.

I learned that I’m capable of absorbing a large financial loss. I experienced unconditional love from my family despite my missteps. I now have a voracious appetite for entrepreneurship which hadn’t existed before.

Who knows how much that will return for me in the future. And so, I’d say, rather than a failure, the experience was pretty f***ing valuable.

Listen to the full Kristy Arnett Podcast “WTF am I doing with my life?” below

(If you’re interested in improving your poker game, check out the Upswing Lab! Doug Polk and Ryan Fee collaborated on this A to Z training course and the great reviews keep rolling in! Check out our Upswing Lab testimonials page here.)

Home > Kristy Arnett – What Losing $20,000 (Without Playing a Hand) Taught Me About Failure
Home > Kristy Arnett – What Losing $20,000 (Without Playing a Hand) Taught Me About Failure
About the Author


Since quitting my job as a poker reporter in 2013, I’ve made my living in live cash-games. Just like everything else in my life, I use poker to become a better person. My mission is to inspire others to do the same. Read, watch and hear more from me at KristyArnett.com

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