11 April 2006

No Root Canal!

There are few folks as fraidy-scared at going to the dentist than I, so my trip yesterday filled me with anxiety. The quick recap: I had a temporary filling put in ten weeks ago. If the medication worked, I could have a permanent filling put in; if not, root canal. I haven't had any pain with the tooth, which I took as not a bad sign but not necessarily positive. I was on a draw, I understood that, but with the pot odds it was a no-brainer. I make my appointment at 1:30 yesterday (although I tried to figure out how to get out of it). No luck, so I keep my eyes closed through the procedure, trying to pick up on some sort of tell to tip me off that I'm out of the woods. I take the further drilling and scraping as that tell, and I was spot-on. No root canal, in and out in thirty minutes. Dentists are only 1000% better than when I was growing up. Back then, most dentists had fingers the size of kielbasa, no gloves, all smoked, and they were pretty much winging it when it came to numbing you up. The shots hurt, the drilling hurt, everything was horrible. Much improved now, but I think you have to go every six months, it really is mandatory for prevention and stuff.

Several folks are in the midst of downward slides. 2+2 threads on largest loss and a 90k losing session may not make you feel better, but they are a bit sobering to say the least. I've started writing some articles for a poker website, doing a series on players making the jump to playing professionally. I'm amazed by a couple of folks that I'm working on now for the next articles, 21 years old, with five- and six-figure months. It definitely gives me the impression that I've just stumbled into some sort of big video game contest, this online poker phenomenon. And maybe that's what this really is, figuring out how to beat PacMan or Call of Duty or something rather than implied pot odds and position. I don't think that's the case, but maybe it's more like that than I'd like to think.

Below is a response to the Relationships and Poker series from Dave, a new visitor here. Some interesting perspectives and a different angle, so I thought you'd like to see it. If you or your spouse would like to email thoughts to me, please feel free to email me at csquard@yahoo.com.

Just started reading your blog a couple months ago when Felicia linked to it for some reason and enjoy it greatly. I am impressed at the thought you put into this subject of poker and our significant others, and the way you are able to get those thoughts across. I am light years behind in writing ability like you and some of the other "big name" bloggers.

Although for the last 18 months or so I have been a winning player, I would categorize my game as C+ or B-. I've been playing what I'd call serious poker for a little over 2 years. I guess that makes me part of the WPT boom. Before that, it was just invite 6 people over, dealers' choice drinkfest. Last year was my first profitable year from poker and that was just under $10k. I think my situation is a bit different than most of the bloggers (or poker players) out there. My wife doesn't play very often at all online. Occasionally, she'll make a deposit, or I'll make a transfer to her, when there is a specific tournament that our friends are playing.

As a rule, I don't play online weeknights. I will still log on most nights to read blogs and my two primary forums, but generally I won't play Monday-Thursday. We both work, it's our relaxing time together. It's our TV time. I may read a poker book or magazine if she's watching one of "her" shows in TiVO. Included in this group are Trading Spaces, While you Were Out, Dancing or Skating with anyone famous, or any other show with washed up actors or any miscellany of shows in the top 10 on TLC or HGTV. We usually eat dinner together every night. I tape nearly every poker show on TV. Since I am a chronic insomniac, I will usually watch these or do my heavy poker reading after she's gone to bed, which is usually between 10:00 and 10:30. I can think on one hand the instances where my online play conflicted with our personal plans. Usually that was when I qualified for a big weekend tournament that I didn't have much choice about the time. I never make plans to play a specific tournament on the weekend. With so many sites and tournaments out there, if I find myself with a free afternoon, I've never had much trouble finding one to play.

When it comes to live poker though, we nearly always play together. We go to Vegas 7 or 8 times a year and will put in a combined 30 hours in a weekend. We always play at the same table whenever possible. Since we live in the LA area, we will usually be at Commerce or Hustler one out of three or four weekends, on average. I guess in this respect I am really lucky, and I do realize it. No one knows more than I do that I have the coolest wife ever. I've always had an addictive personality. I'm not sure that's the right word, but whenever I get a new interest, I dive into it and learn as much as I can. I guess I don't really do anything halfway. I was like that with poker, and signed up on Party Poker from the ad during the first season of the WPT and began getting my butt kicked, I decided to change that, so I started reading as much as I could, and losing. Maybe in the beginning, it was a problem, which is how we came up with the "no weekday" rule.

Very often, players at a table will make comments that they wish their wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend would come out and play like we do. We play completely different styles, but both seem to make some money playing. Possibly part of the reason it isn't a problem is the money we play with. We have kind of a funky budget setup that we pool all our money and each get a certain amount to spend on whatever we want. We both have different interests. She is into scrapbooking and photography, while I like volleyball or games. This is the money we gamble with. If I lose my butt in craps or poker, it's less volleyball tournaments I can play or video game I can buy. If she loses, there goes the new lens for her camera. We buy all our toys with gambling money and I have no delusions about getting rich playing poker, but I do get a lot of things I could never justify buying with "community" money. By having our finances structured this way, we have never had an argument about money. We have both agreed on a plan for our finances to make sure we don't have to work into our sixties before we can enjoy life.

A couple years ago we had a major scare with her health and it kind of not only provided a new point of view for both of us, it really changed her attitude. Before, she was very conservative and resistant to change. She's been at her job for 18 years and hasn't liked it since I met her 9 years ago. She's only lived in 3 houses ………. ever. She lived in the house where she grew up for 32 years, keeping it even after her mom passed away until after we were engaged. It took getting engaged to move in together so we could save for our own home where we lived for the first 2 years we were married, and now the home we live in we bought about 4 years ago. Since her cancer, she is much less afraid of taking risk. "We can always make more money," she will say. We have invested much more, and last fall bought a rental property in Las Vegas. Not only is this an investment, but it did let us write off over $5k in Vegas trips last year. We plan to buy 1 or 2 more properties this year. I'm not sure if it clears up at all your question of how affects relationships, but I think it does give a perspective that's out of the norm.

Thanks, Dave, for this. I picked up my Bluff Magazine at Borders yesterday on my way to the dentist. This has the cover story of Michael Craig's Part I recap of Andy Beal vs. the Corporation. A must read of the $50k/100k sessions. I've also been catching up on new WPT shows. Courtney Friel is much better at her work than Shania was, although Shania is a good bit dreamier than Courtney. I haven't seen Ms. Friel in person, but Ms. Hiatt had this approachable girl-next-door thing going on. I've quit watching Celebrity Poker Showdown, but I'm sure I'll take a peak when the new version comes out with Hellmuth replaces Phil Gordon as co-host.



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