James Ferrux – from Joke Writer to Professional Poker Player

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After the successful first 10 interviews of the series of “They made it remarkable” in Italian and because of a growing demand to translate them to English, I’ve decided to switch to this language from now on and move the future interviews here.

Welcome.

 

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JOB: Poker player and writer
LIFESTYLE: Digital nomad
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook
AGE: 32
NATIONALITY: French

 

Where are you from?

I was born in France, raised in the Antilles, Cuba, Canada, Asia, and currently still growing in Morocco

Education?

I managed to stand it only until the end of high school. I started working when I was 18.

What did you do in your previous life?

I had many jobs but the last one was joke writer, comedian assistant and baby-sitter.

What do you do today?

I play poker, travel, still write for pleasure and baby-sit myself.

Why did you decide to take the jump?

I had reached a certain goal, an apartment in Paris, a fancy job for a famous TV network, I could buy all the sneakers I wanted each month, had finally that great DVD shelf I had always dreamt of, but I felt like Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, I didn’t have taste for life anymore, an empty vessel… So I let myself hit rock bottom, I was like in a balloon that cannot stretch anymore, I felt I needed to get out, get some fresh air. When I realized I could get out I punctured my way out, I did it the quick and noisy way!

Did you need to study something new or go back to uni to change your life?

I felt I needed to change my perspective, to take some distance, flip the microscope the other way around. Let everything go, went to Asia for a while to figure out what I would miss, what would survive in me. I understood it was all shitty because of me so I needed to work on myself. I changed my energy, I was not resisting anymore so finally I was able to see and accept the opportunities to try something different. It all started with a “group therapy” kind of thing, where I learned to reposition my ego and then I went on reading, learning meditation, travelling, putting myself first and all that cool stuff…

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Since you’ve changed direction, have you ever thought you made a mistake?

Yeah of course, mistakes are like drafts, experiences, tests, try-outs, warm-ups, it’s just a way to learn and improve… It’s what makes great bloopers in movies so they are indispensable. Trying not to beat myself too hard for each one I make is what changed. I repeat to myself the cheesy Zen line

“it’s okay not to be okay”

What were the hardest challenges and tough moments before and after the change?

The toughest if I can call it that is what is still going on today and what has always been, it’s feeling “forced” to explain and justify the way I live, the way I think to friends and relatives and all those who think they know me better than I do. “Why the heck did you leave the herd ??” I seem to read in their eyes. So it’s always the same 20 minutes small talk to finally hear them saying:

“oh you’re probably right, maybe I too should take control of my life and do what I want before I turn into compost…”

And then they go back to their predigested life and talk behind my back like I went completely rogue.

But who cares? I’m happy.

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And the biggest satisfactions and achievements?

Becoming a profitable poker player like I planned 10 months ago, being able to leave France for good, living anywhere I want and pretty much doing whatever I want without owing shit to anybody. I am free.

Do you think your new lifestyle is sustainable in the long run?

I completely stopped projecting myself in hypothetical futures, I am right here, right now. Whether it’s poker or something else I’ve managed to make a living so far. You know the saying,

“The bird doesn’t fear the branch he’s lying on breaks, he trusts his wings”.

There’s always a way to make it.

Considering your new life: what is more important education or experience?

To me, education sounds with “educastration”. I wouldn’t trade my years travelling in different cultures, my adventures, my disappointments, my discoveries through experience for any certificate in the world. “Diploma is the deadly enemy of culture” said some famous French guy (Paul Valery).

How important was knowing other languages for your change?

Lucky for me I’ve always loved English and I learned Spanish in Cuba so that covers pretty much a lot. I understand it can be an issue if you can’t communicate, but don’t worry you’ll find a way.

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How has your life changed since you jumped off of that plane?

Actually, I’ve never taken so many planes since I left the old me. I love to play with my senses and change decor. Everything that happens now is the direct result of my actions, no one else to blame or to thank, that’s what changed.

What would you recommend to people who are hoping to pursue a similar career to yours?

Nothing, just listen to your heart, your guts or whichever organ you like to converse with and go for it.

“Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye” – Roxette

Have you read any books, listened to podcasts or watched movies/vlogs that have inspired you to exit the loop?

Yes, a few classics, Eat Pray Love, The Power of Now, The Four Agreements, Liberez votre cerveau by Idriss Aberkane, to learn thinking outside the box, and probably a list of 30 more mystic books that some fellow travellers keep adding titles to…

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Would you say your life is remarkable* today?

YES. AND IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING…

 

*remarkable: extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious. HAPPY. 

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If you are also tired of your life and feel as there must be something more beyond what’s “normal”, join the 
Make It Remarkable revolution on Facebook where we share successes, failures, tips and practical info to leave the cage and CHANGE your life. Yes, Another Life is Possible.

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  • Abhinav Singh

    Whoa, I didn’t know poker is played professionally as well.
    I enjoyed reading this interview. Freedom is of paramount importance to me as well. No wonder I have not
    even tried to find a job after they fired me for traveling too much. We all find
    our life’s calling. Isn’t it?

    • Thank you, Abhinav! Yes, to me too…Freedom is my most important value and I try to share this value on my group..feel free to join if you also want to be inspired to pursue it. Link above 🙂

  • Jennifer Riley

    If I was any good at cards, professional poker sounds like a great job. There might not be job security, but there would be a lot of freedom. Really interesting interview.

    • Thank you, Jennifer! Yes, that’s right..if I know how to play I would also give it a go! 🙂

  • Well done on becoming profitable at poker, this is a great source of income for you! Learning new languages is important but like you say even when you speak a different language you still get by. Lot’s of travelers pass through countries without knowing a word of the language.

    • Yes you are right – I don’t even know how to play poker, but I’m amazed by the fact that someone can make a living with it!

  • Gareth Thompson

    This was a super enjoyable read and given that I’m trying to piece together a series of interviews on my own site geared around people who afford to travel in unusual ways, this is a great idea! Unfortunately, I’ve never experienced much luck at the poker table but it’s great to see others able to fund their adventures this way. A really enjoyable post and one that I’m sure has inspired a few people to give it a go

    • Thank you Gareth! Yes, I’ve recently launched a project around changing life/direction in order to fulfil our potential. You can find more on the FB group “Another Life is Possible”, maybe we can share ideas and interesting stuff?

  • Thats quite interesting .. Professional Poker player ? Haven’t heard about that before. Eat Pray Love is my favorite too 🙂 I really want to read Power to Now

    • That’s right 🙂 I bought the audio book of the Power of Now and I love listening to it while I’m doing other things.. it’s great! 🙂

  • Sonia Sahni

    So nice to read how people change the course of life with determination. I wish we could have such jobs in india! I guess I will need to learn poker now!

    • Dear Sonia, the beauty of the digital world is that it doesn’t matter where you live, the world is truly your oyster and ANYBODY can do it, even in India! 🙂

      • Sonia Sahni

        Yep…technology has brought us closer in many ways!

  • Anna Hammerschmidt

    First off, Eat, Pray, Love is one of my favorite books too! Good for you for taking the initiative and changing the direction of your life. This is very hard to do, especially when you do have a good job!

  • Cat Lin

    It is always very inspiring to hear story of people who follow their heart! Even though he left the herd, he is happy and free now pursuing his career as a professional poker player! I also agree with him that travel is the best education you can get in this world!

    • Totally agree on that one too! 🙂 And yes, travel is the best way to learn about ourselves and the world!

  • Riely Mills

    A very inspiring story. It’s hard to leave a comfortable, secure lifestyle for a more liberal yet unpredictable. It’s great advice to follow your heart in whatever you pursue. Travelling can be the best form of education experiences different cultures and learning languages along the way.

    • Thank you, Riely! yes, that’s so true…the hardest part is to leave what we know for the unknown…but in most cases, the risk pays off 🙂