30 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Testimonial I

Congratulations to our new buddy, Barry Greenstein, sitting in 2nd chip position at the final table of the WPT Reno World Poker Challenge. Barry is known as the Robin Hood of poker, giving his tourney winnings to charity, including Children, Inc.

My parents liked to think that our family was a Southern version of the Griswold's from National Lampoon's Vacation. Having escaped that time, I can tell you aspired to be the Griswold's. My father once backed over his luggage before a road trip. We constantly drove 3 1/2 hours up the Natchez Trace, named by USA Today a couple years ago as one of the top ten scenic highways in the country. Well, there was one place to stop for a restaurant for two hours, in Kosciusko. For all you young whipper-snappers, this was before minivans, before one of the greatest innovations in childcare of the 20th century: bucket seats. No tape player, no CD's, just one country station, listening to my parents sing horrible harmony to songs I hated. Plus my sister would put her foot on my side of the back seat. My parents went to see Merle Haggard in Tunica last weekend. While they were waiting, they ordered a drink while trying to watch the Memphis-UCLA game. They paid for the drink, only to have the bartender return their cash in change. So they stuffed five dollars into a video poker game, understanding that their drinks were free if they played. Mom catches a straight early on, then hits the button to wash it away (as she hasn't figured out the whole push-the-button-to-hold-the-cards part of video poker, which is a fairly fundamental part of the game).

Alot of new visitors to the blog, and for that I say welcome. The Relationships and Poker series has really hit a hot spot as I think it effects all of us. I like to think I've been very smart and insightful, but I think you'll find over the next week that this may not be exactly the case. I've invited fellow bloggers and wives to email their thoughts about poker. If you or your wife is up to this, please email your thoughts at csquard@yahoo.com. The first testimonial that we're looking at is from a very popular blogger and his wife. I am keeping all of these testimonials anonymous due to the sensitive nature of these thoughts. Also, no editing on my part. I'm a big believer in capturing verbatims from people, as each word in context may have hidden magical meanings. A bit lengthy, but we're not killing any trees here.

Blogger: I wish I had the answer for addressing balance. I call it a hobby; she calls it an addiction/obsession. As you say, the primetime time to play is evenings. I certainly try to wait until (our) baby goes to sleep (around) 8PM, and go from there. Usually, the plan is to watch some TV shows as that is something that she really enjoys. Pre-marriage, I hardly watched any TV other than sports and movies, but she came from a house with no cable so that is all she watched was network TV. I still try to prioritize all the family stuff about poker and that is probably where the disagreement will start. The funny thing is that I started playing poker due to her scrapbooking habits. That would take her away for many, many evenings and needed to find something to do. Free time, Chris Moneymaker, and voila, the poker monster is born. She still scrapbooks now, but not near as much (not to say that it is not alot). I've played 44 hours of poker this month (according to PT--21 March) which is a little bit of an aberration as I had a week's vacation in there. So balance....I just try to balance family first. I don't always succeed.

I'm sure some of those warning signs are present, especially shirking duties, but I tend to be pretty lazy when it comes to chores. If it wasn't poker, it would probably be something else. Time spent on poker is another sign. We talked the other evening, and I asked her what we are not doing today that we did before. She couldn't say as she likened it to what we did before our baby; you just don't know. Anyway, I try to comeback and say that we are doing the same thing other than I don't watch as much TV with you, and go to bed with you. I hear it from alot of guys that their wives just like for their husbands to be in bed with them when they go to sleep. I don't know if it is a security thing, a bonding thing, or what. While I somewhat understand it, that is one thing that has changed. As you know, if we are going to play poker, after they have gone to bed is the best time.

Helpful hints? I'm turning the tables on you here because I don't know. This is very much a sign of contention in (our) household. One kind of scary thing was that after I showed her your first part, she said that she didn't feel as bad for some of the things that she was thinking. I didn't pursue that much further, partly because I probably didn't want to know and was afraid of where it might lead. We've been married for only five years, and I can truly say that they have been the five best years of my life. We agree and are similar in many ways; but those 10% of differences can often be a thorn in our side.

Wife: My thoughts on (my husband) playing poker: while everyone should have a hobby, I feel that his is an obsession b/c he does something with it every day, whether it be that he plays, blogs, analyzes his states, etc. It seems like it's almost constant. He comes home and before dinner is on the table, he has to "check his email," then it's let me play for 1 hr THEN we can watch tv together, so to me it hurts b/c poker comes first before me and our daughter. Sure he "fits" us in, but I don't like to be fit in. When I ask for help or for him to do something, he feels like I'm nagging him and has a rule that he'll get to it in 24 hrs. Well father and husband responsibilities can't wait. How about I say, "Let me wait 24 hrs before I make you dinner"--ya right. I do most of the household things around the house, helping would require him to cut into his poker time and it doesn't happen (again priorities).

Warning signs recognized: -ADDICTION- every day, all hrs of the day. DISTANCE: I feel I have 1/2 hr at dinner to talk and discuss things, I feel like there have been more outbursts from him. TIME CONSUMPTION: I don't need to say more, I would love to have a timer of his play, blog, etc. INFLUENCE: I don't htink it has had an influence on our 2 yr old yet, but she sure knows where daddy's computer is. ALONE: after reading this blog, I don't feel as bad about the feelings I once had as a wife of a poker player.

I don't have any helpful hints. I just try to pray about it and have God help me and our relationship.

Very heartfelt insight at the reality of poker for us, as well as the impact on our loved ones. Nothing from me on this, no play-by-play.

I do want to direct you to two of my favorite artists on my iPod. They don't help with my agression at the table (I use my Funk playlist for that), but they are a great comfort. at times Sara Groves is from Minnesota and is a tremendous lyricist on faith in our daily lives. Take 6 launched the whole a capella boys band movement of the 90's. They've won Grammies for Jazz vocals, but they are really, really great. Have a good day, and thanks again for visiting.

ADDENDUM: IGGY's back with one of his great, lengthy posts about everything. Thanks for shaking off the funk and giving us the SportCenter of bloggers again! And Pauly's cranking away (and pimping us here). I can't imaging anyone who is here and doesn't start the day checking him about, but get there anyways.


Blogger Scott Cunningham said...

Blogger's wife seems to be experiencing fairly serious pain about blogger's poker playing. How is the communication between blogger and blogger wife on this topic? Prior to the publication of this blog post, did he know she felt this way?

9:08 AM  
Blogger Sloejack said...

There's an interesting bit in those two letters that actually is huge in terms of perception. The bloggers point about only spending X amount of time based on pokertracker seems reasonable at first blush, but the part that gets neglected is that the wife conciders time spent talking about, blogging about, and actually playing poker all the same. Beware the unreported overtime.

Apparently I can't just say a few words on the subject so I'll continue this on my blog in my confessions of an obsessive poker blogger.

1:06 PM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

Thanks for stopping by and giving me the tips, they're exactly what I need so I can make 1,000 my first time, lol.
Actually, a $5 profit would rock.
Stop by anytime. You've got a good blog yourself; I wrote about this topic in the past and you were right on.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Scott Cunningham said...

sloejack is right - it's interesting that to blogger, he separates playing from the various derivatives of poker, but she sees them all as the same. That makes a huge difference, because if in your mind, you say "it's okay if I only spend x hours a day on poker" but "poker" only means physical playing, then you've understated the resources you've drawn from your wife by all the other activities. Good point.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Kent said...

A good marriage involves give and take. I spent WAY too much time playing World of Warcraft when it first came out, and things went south in a hurry.
I cut back my play time (and it's still the same with poker) to coincide with the evening TV time. Then, I moved a TV into the office with the computer. She watches TV with me while I'm on the computer; that way, she doesn't feel like I'm avoiding her (I'm not), and we can still talk while we watch/play.

7:51 PM  

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