China has a problem brewing. Nuclear winter won't decimate the country; it's the rising number of unmarried youngsters.

China's Communist Youth League (CYL), the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Health and Family Planning are taking action. A new guideline issued by the triumvirate plans to host blind date matchmaking events, the first of which have attracted over 5,000 willing participants. The guidelines suggest a civilised, healthy and rational concept of love and marriage is the key to China's future.

“Family is society's basic unit,” an employee at the Women's Federation in Pizhou, East China's Jiangsu Province told the Global Times on Monday. “Without a family, people will lose their motivation to work diligently, and too many single people will eventually affect social stability,"

While China drives their unmarried underlings into a promise of matrimony, it's worth noting that the latest estimates of global divorce rates show that 53% of marriages fall apart, and one of the primary reasons lies in choosing the wrong career.

So what are the careers that drive a spoon through the meatballs and spaghetti of marriage?

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In 2010, a study published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology established that the worst job to hold if you wanted your marriage to succeed was that of a casino worker (and other gambling workers) with 31.4% of all marriages sure to end.

Fedor Holz recently held the stage at the 2017 Bitz and Pretzels Founders Festival explaining how he isn't a gambler, but you would be hard-pressed not to include a professional poker player in this category. And if you argue that a pro poker player is an athlete, 28.5% of them are likely to divorce.

How many people does this effect in the poker world?

 I reached out to 40 of the world's top 50 players as ranked by the Global Poker Index (GPI), and can reveal that the statistics don't matter one iota because so few of them are married.

Only 10% are married. 45% have a partner, and 45% are single. Only 10% have children.

Married with younger children makes it challenging to reach the higher echelon of the poker industry for obvious reasons.

The environment also plays a part in finding the right partner, and it's probably why the divorce rates are so high in the gambling industry, but let's take a closer look.


In the fantastic book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work the author, John Gottman, explains that 80% of divorced men and women said they lost a sense of closeness, didn’t feel loved and appreciated.

If you are spending long hours at work, and are away from home for prolonged periods of time, it must lead to a loss of closeness and a feeling of lack of love and appreciation for the partner left behind.

Maybe it's a positive thing that so few of the world's best poker players are married and have children. While the Chinese believe marriage is a positive thing for their people, perhaps it hinders the professional poker player who needs to spend long hours on the felt and travel across the world.

One of the ways to combat this, of course, is to take your partner on an extended busman's holiday, so you can spend time together when the game is over, but this cost prohibitive and complicated if you have children.

All of the 40 players I spoke to were male, and according to an article that appeared in Forbes (2011), 75% of women involved in a survey admitted they would never marry an unemployed man. The natural desire for the woman to seek safety and security may hinder the poker players chances of saying their vows. Any poker player who tries to get a mortgage or loan quickly learns the establishment doesn't view the role as a professional poker as a secure position. I wonder if women feel the same. When they look at a pro poker player, do they look past the instant gratification of the high life and instead see a high-risk, long-term strategy and avoid the gamble?

I'm not too sure the high-risk strategy matters that much with our sample. Most of the players in the GPI Top 50 aren't at an age where getting married and settling down enters the psyche.

But it will, one day, and so the players should be prepared.


If we were to go down the China route and create blind dates for our eligible poker bachelors, what qualities will attract the right lady

According to that 2011 Forbes article, poker players need strong family bonds, great friends, and exist in a similar culture. They should demonstrate healthy habits, employ excellent communication skills (especially listening), and be straightforward. It's important for him to have the ability to laugh at himself, be generous with his time, and show compassion. Capacity to learn from mistakes bodes well, as does handling stress, and being honest. Then you need to be kind, patient, and courageous. Being faithful is also a virtue, as is the ability to control their passion, and have empathy. Finally, the willingness to keep a stimulating conversation is crucial as is a high level of emotional intelligence.

It sounds like most of the world's greatest poker players, right?

And if you do grow up, and settle down, be wary of spending too much time at the poker table. According to Gottman, since women entered the workplace in huge numbers, extramarital affairs carried out by women outnumbers those of men. 


Lee Davy is a poker writer and live reporter who has worked for all the top names in the industry, including the WPT, the WSOP as well as 888poker.