23 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Part II

Thanks to those emailing me yesterday about this series. Seems it may have hit on a sensitive area.

First, some poker from yesterday. I donked off about $180 yesterday during a $3/6 session on FullTilt where all my zigs zagged. All my bluffs and semi-bluffs were called down, all my hands were chased down, all my monsters got nothing. I decided last night to take my last $100 on FullTilt to a $0.5/1 NLHE table (since I'm so good at that). Doubled through with a shoulder-shrugging all-in with top pair vs. a flush draw (I held up). The guy I clocked I also should have knocked out with just a beautiful hand. He has $40 left with two posters and a caller in front of him, he raises to $5, I bet $40.50 with AhKh, he calls with KJo and flops a jack. That brought me back to only up $100 instead of $200. I really can't get upset with that. It's hard to find many worse calls than that; he invested the money, so I'll take that fifty times a day if that's how they play it.

For this series, I'm addressing moderate to heavy players rather than the recreational game. It isn't meant to be judgemental or indicting--heck, I'm an avid player. It also errs probably on the armchair psychologist. For that, I apologize in advance. It is meant to explore a sensitive, delicate area of poker, the significance of our play to others in our lives. I'll try to keep it as personal as possible. Yesterday's first part was exploring why spouses or significant others take issue with our poker pursuits. Part II will explore the warning signals if your play is impacting your marriage or relationship.
  • Sleep schedule This is a problem that used to be quite frequent for me. I would sneak away at night, play until 5:00 or so, then either sleep late or get to work totally wasted. The warning sign for me is if my sleep patterns start changing. We tend to think it's invisible, but it was the first thing my wife said when we talked about this.
  • Inability to focus on partner This may occur on a dinner date, it may occur in the car, over a family meal. All you can think about is wanting to play, implied pot odds, or how you lost your aggression on the river when a scare card hit. She's talking, but all I hear is this strange buzzing in my ears. What does she see? Your eyes either glazed over or darting away from her. You don't remember anything she said two minutes ago.
  • Mean shift in time spent together Your time together decreases significantly. You go out less. When you're home, the only thing you want to do is get to your computer. You're in the same vicinity, but you aren't together. Your interests are diverging from hers, so the time together is less.
  • Frequent arguments This is where I'm a bit of a freak. Sweetie and I never argue. When I say we never argue, I mean I think we've had a half a dozen real arguments in our marriage. That's one every other year. You may call bs on that, but it's a plain fact. Having said that, if poker is a point of contention, the quick aside or snide comment becomes an initial debate until it turns into heated arguments. This is caused partly by not reaching any real agreement regarding poker. It may be symptomatic of the relationship overall.
  • Avoiding contact If you're into Myers-Briggs personality types, then you'll get this. My wife and I are both INTP's--we're introverted thinkers/analytical types. Some folks are zealots about this stuff--I'm not really but it has helped me from time to time. Anyways, one way to intrepret this is what your default reactions are to stress. The INTP defaults to avoidance, so if you don't confront and argue, then you avoid. It's one of those things where I most of the time don't ask Sweetie to truthfully tell me something because I'd rather not know what she's really thinking. "Do you still think I'm attractive? Do you think ______ is attractive?" I mean, why on earth would I want to know the answer to these questions? I'm just thankful she's stayed with me through yesterday--if we go to bed together tonight, then it's a good day. But I digress. A big warning flag for me is that I just start avoiding her at home, either so that I can play or that I can prevent discussions about my play.
  • Lies You'll have to keep up with this yourself, but here are the common areas of deceit that I have/have had: what I do with my nights when I travel, visiting card rooms, what I'm doing before coming home from work, bankroll, losses, comped prostitutes (OK, maybe not that one; I mean, the poker room rate at the Bellagio is great and I've never gotten a free buffet there, but do they send ladies to your roome? Really, I know some of the clients probably would tie up an escort for a couple of hours--for me, we're talking less time than room service probably). I've been deceitful for sure, and this is not healthy to any relationship.
  • Slacking of responsibilities We're absurd animals, us men. I hate doing dishes, so my big accomplishment is taking my plate to the sink after a meal. Remember, I grew up in Mississippi. My dad used to shake his iced tea glass when it was empty, prompting my mom to leap up for the pitcher. Aunt Nene, when hosting a big family dinner, serves all the men in the dining room, forcing the women to serve them and eat in the kitchen. Besides the fact that I'm horrible in general, not pulling your weight is another sign of distraction and cluelessness. This can be things as simple as chores not getting done to poor parenthood, not caring about your daughter's school problems. A general lack of proactiveness and ownership on our part should be a sign if we're observant enough; being in the doghouse for failing to help is a blunt signal.
  • Distancing from extended family members This is one I've experienced for sure, both from my parents as well as my in-laws. My dad has suggested Sweetie and I take up bridge. My father-in-law has banned poker from his house. Family members are concerned. Parents preach to us. In-laws are concerned that their lovely daughter has married a degenerate. It seems that most poker bloggers are either gay or drunk-coked up-strip joint abusing-beastialitites (not sure if that's a word), so I think for most of you your in-law's are probably right. You are degenerates, but that has nothing to do with poker. For us gentle, virtuous guys, this is our only vice. OK, maybe poker and having our heart race when driving the babysitter home. That's the creepiest feeling in the world, driving a babysitter home. I mean, aren't you supposed to kiss her goodnight? I refuse to drive them home now, although we are looking into Swedish twins as au pairs for the summer...
  • Finding the neighbor in your bed and not caring This hasn't happened yet. If you do see the neighbor going into your bedroom (especially if he's a real jerk) and you're actually excited that you'll now have uninterrupted time to multi-table, well, it may be a warning sign for sure. If you have your laptop in bed, that's also not a good trend.
As always, any thoughts or comments are welcome on this subject.


Blogger e-e baby said...


The most interesting reaction we have gotten is from my parents, who are certified gamblers. They are "on the boat" (well, my Mom is) three times a week. Granted she is just playing penny slots and not losing much money, but she is very concerned. Not that my hubby will be a beastialitite (he like to eat lamb, not DO it) but that he is "addicted." My family is very nosy and in your face (hmmm, wonder where I get it), so they are always asking.

By the way, my hubby is an avoider and I am a confronter. It isn't pretty.

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