Having two kids under the age of four is not easy. At that age neither kid is self-sufficient and their needs are vastly different. When one poops in his diaper, the other dumps sand all over her new dress. And that’s just a typical Monday.
Earlier this month, Bahar ‘bah22’ Musa became the 12th player in 2016 to pass $2 million in career online tournament winnings. Doing so meant piling up over 3,300 in the money finishes.
“I feel great to get a $2 million badge and I really enjoy the game,” Musa said.
It’s relatively amazing that Musa has been able to put so much time and volume into poker over the years. He now has two young kids, a three-year old girl and a one-year old boy, and a wife. They all enjoy his company and prefer that he not spend all of his time with his head buried deep in a computer.
His kids are at two very challenging ages. They have no concept of what their dad does for a living, but his wife does and is extremely supportive.
“My wife, my family, and my friends are very supportive,” he said. “As an MTT player, it is very hard to be a professional and a family man, but my wife covers a lot of bases at home. And I am very thankful for that.”
Players who have a laundry list of responsibilities tend to gravitate toward cash games. Instead of the rigid nature of MTTs, cash games allow players to come and go as they please. There’s no multi-hour commitment and, just like MTTs, a variety of stakes are available.
“When my wife got pregnant, I was thinking I would have to change formats from tournaments to cash games, but it is not the same feeling with cash games or other types of games,” he said. “I really enjoyed MTTs from the beginning of my career. MTTs are so much more dynamic and exciting. Cash games feel like a nonstop grind. I would have a hard time adjusting to that since I have never thought of myself as a grinder.”
In order to be a family man, Musa plays poker three days a week, one of which is always a Sunday, the busiest day of the poker workweek. He usually fires up games after 9:00pm when his kids head to bed and plays well into the twilight hours.
His wife, who gets kid duty the next morning, is on maternity leave right now, but plans to go back to school in the fall, when both kids will likely be in day care.
“Besides that, I coach students in our community, so I am around poker a lot,” he said.
You’ve probably figured out by now that three days is less than half of a week. Although he fills other days with coaching, he has no plans to ramp up his volume in pursuit of another seven-figure milestone.
“Playing MTTs means a long workday and I need time to recover,” he said. “The lack of sleep is a big issue. I usually emphasize on quality, not quantity, and I am doing well financially, so I don’t have to play much. That way, I keep my passion for the game and it protects me from burning out.” He can also be present for his children’s “firsts.”
He camps out in his home office in order to grind online and credits his wife with allowing him to be able to juggle poker and a young, budding family successfully. He has even found time to develop a soon-to-be-launched Bulgarian-centric coaching site called PokerAcademy.bg. If all goes well, the site could go global.
Musa and his family live in Bulgaria, home to almost 600 registered members of the PocketFives community.
“Ten years ago, poker was a very exotic thing around here,” he said. “It wasn’t very popular, but in the last few years poker grew fast and people are more familiar with the game. Advertisements and movies helped a lot. A lot of people understand that poker is more a game of skill than luck, but I tend not to say that I am a poker pro in public because of the association with gambling. Instead, I usually say I do stuff on the internet or am in the risk management industry.”
He cited the 1998 cult classic Rounders as a film that has helped bring poker to light in his home country. Musa is Bulgaria’s third-ranked player and he’s #1 in the seaside city of Varna, located on the picturesque Black Sea. Worldwide, the $2 million family man is #382 in the PocketFives Rankings, about 200 spots off his all-time high achieved in 2011.