Canadian poker pro Mike McDonald, known as “Timex” online, announced on his blog at CardRunners this week that he is retiring from the game of poker. McDonald, 20, earned more than $2.6 million in live tournament earnings during his brief career, but plans to take his life in another direction after having secured himself financially at such a young age.
“Before talking about where I plan to go from here, I guess I should point out that I do enjoy playing poker and I doubt I’ll ever straight up quit playing poker. I just think at this point, I sort of feel no ambition towards poker,” said McDonald.
“In poker, although I’ve met tons of people I really like and had tons of cool experiences, I just kind of feel like there is nowhere to go from here. I can’t really think of anyone who is more engrossed in the poker world than me who I aspire to be like and poker seems to be a lot more isolating than I initially realized.”
McDonald, who still isn’t old enough to play in the World Series of Poker (WSOP), has only a handful of live cashes on the tournament circuit since turning 18 in 2007, but four of them were enormous paydays. In February 2008, he became the youngest person to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) event when he took down the €7,700 German Open for €933,000. He returned a year later to place fifth in the same event for €197,000.
His brilliant success at the EPT continued this year with a third place finish at the €5,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event in Deauville, where he earned €295,000. McDonald also won a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for another $146,804.
McDonald is a Full Tilt Poker Red Pro as a member of Team CardRunners, but intends to leave that career behind as he pursues other ventures in life. That path is likely to begin by re-enrolling at the University of Waterloo, where he spent three semesters before pursuing poker full-time. “I think returning to school and trying out a wide variety of courses, learning new things, meeting new people, and just beginning to live a life that is more in touch with everyone else seems aligned with my interests,” he said. “I currently am trying to get in touch with the University of Waterloo about possibly taking some classes this summer and depending on how that goes, may return to Waterloo or another university in the fall.”
McDonald admits that a comeback to poker is certainly possible and even concedes that he’s “probably a heavy favorite to return” to the game at some point. For now, the 20 year-old is excited about the new life challenges in front of him.
“My life goal was to more or less get to the point where I never had to do anything for the rest of my life as early as possible. I’m at that point; I have almost no obligations, and if I really wanted to, I could sit around for the rest of my life watching the world go by and I’m just realizing that’s not what I want.”