27 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Addendum A

Just in case anyone thought Greg Raymer was some sort of fluke, he posted a nice 2nd place on Stars this weekend, good for $182k and change. Thanks to Otis for this recap.

Later this week I'll have responses to the three-part series on relationships and poker from wives. I've had a chance to receive some of these emails, and it is pretty enlightening to see some of their thoughts. I'll also have some thoughts from different bloggers. This has been cathartic and helpful for me to put together, and several folks I really admire have been grappling with many of these issues.

So, I sent out several blind emails to different pros asking for their perspective on relationships and poker. I'm not part of any inner circle (except the 2nd grade boys soccer team I coach in the neighborhood), so expectations were pretty low. It was very impressive to receive an email back from Barry Greenstein within two hours after my request on his website. Here is his response:

You are right. I have a lot of ideas on the topic.

One novel idea is that if you are not an empathetic person, then you will be
bad in relationships and poker. Both of these require the ability to look
at things from another person's perspective, and then act accordingly.

Even with this ability, though, poker players are usually not good in
relationships because of the ups and downs and the time constraints of being
a poker player, so consequently the partner of a poker player ends up being
a support person, always waiting for undivided attention.


Leave it to a top pro to look at relationships in the context of great poker. Being empathetic in your marriage or relationship is something that, OK, seems like an entry ticket, a basic component of any relationship. I guess what I didn't understand was that it was a key ingredient for great poker. I haven't exactly graduated from the looking just at my cards theory of poker yet, and I know I'm supposed to focus more on what-does-he-think-I-think-he-think-I-think-he has, but man.

The challenge for our relationships really seems fundamental: more than empathy, do we pursue selflessness? And what if I was able to become a brilliant, excellent poker player? Would the journey sacrifice that relationship? Greenstein doesn't speak in absolute terms, but he does seem to say that a real-live poker player following a normal path, one of wins and losses, bankrolls that aren't discretionary but are a family's lifeblood that go bust, nights and nights of grinding; this is not a healthy life for most relationships.
As great as my marriage is, I can't imagine it surviving anything remotely like that in the name of poker.

I have no real desire to pursue poker as a profession, but it is decidedly different for most Americans this poker thing even in moderation. If I had told my wife five years ago that I wanted to give poker a go as a career; well, she would have had me committed.
Yet our net worth has dropped 75% in the last five years, I've gone from VP positions at Fortune 100 companies to trying to make a consulting and marketing firm work to prevent moving every two years. Is it OK to embrace this pursuit, this hobby that has the risk of obsession? Is it the same as golf, running, shopping, Soco, crystal meth, softball leagues, television? Yes and no. I wish I had answers for this stuff. The three-part series on Relationships and Poker seems intriguing, so if you haven't checked it out I encourage you to do so. I'll have a couple more addendum posts later this week.

In case you haven't seen just an incredible play by one Mr. Phil Ivey, Wes has provided the link to video of the hand at the Monte Carlo Million. Let me also pimp the two discount deals I've been able to get for readers of this blog. I've been able to get a 10% discount on custom poker tables from Big Slik Poker Tables. Just mention Closet Poker Player in an email or call (see top right for details). You can see their pictures of my table (the racetrack table with the green felt and black chairs). For chips and supplies, go to Chips and Games. Use closet at checkout in the discount code box for 10% off.

A couple of random final notes. If you haven't gotten Bluff Magazine's April edition, find it and get it (I haven't yet). Michael Craig has the first article from Andy Beal's Big Game several weeks ago. Bluff also has an interesting article on different state laws for home games (WillWonka, you're going to jail soon!!) If you like creepy, disturbing things, go to Postscript. They have a book out now and update this weekly. It is all from an experiment where the author sent out random postcards asking for secrets on customized postcards to be mailed back to him, secrets that they haven't shared with anyone. Amusing and scary things ensue. Liz Lieu has the first day chip lead at the Reno WPT event. She's dyed her hair totally blonde, which looks worse than her bizzarro stripes in her hair. 592 players this year up from a little less than 400 last year.


Blogger WillWonka said...

I'll send you a postcard from the clink...

kind of funny story... I was playing in a home game and finished dead last... I stuck around to deal and on my home, I got pulled over for speeding.. So the policeman asked where I had been... (it was around 1AM). I told him that I was at a home poker game..... and I finished dead last when my flopped full house lost to quads.. Not only did I Not get a ticket or go to jail; but we talked poker (both home game and online) for about 20 minutes...
there you have it and there you are.

8:35 PM  
Blogger cc said...

Live law enforcement is rigged...Are you sure you didn't leave out the fact that you cried like a teenage girl?

8:51 PM  

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