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High On Poker

Where to start? Where to start?

First of all, I discovered a handful of comments awaiting moderation. Sorry, folks, if you left a comment and it did not post. Hell, even one of my own comments were awaiting confirmation.

I played in a home game. Ham Hands Pauly and Abby from Wall Street Poker recently hosted the Parents’ Home Game, as I like to think of it. It was at their home, scheduled to start at 7:30pm, only a few short blocks from my home. I arrived early (naturally) and was the only one there aside from the two hosts. As we chatted idly, I mentioned that their proposed game was a genius idea: one tournament only, with a higher than usual buy-in, so that players with kids can budget their time wisely. Pauly and Abby have two great kids under 6 years old (under 5?) and they are both very intelligent people, so I assumed they had come up with the plan. With just one tournament, there is no pressure to stay for the second game and with the slightly higher buy-in, winning is worthwhile, even if you will be exhausted from a bio-alarm-clock that thinks 6am is a fine time to get up on a weekend. When I complimented them, Abby looked at me strangely and then shared, “Actually, this was your idea. You mentioned having just one tournament at the last game.” Hmm… I thought for a moment before realizing that she was right. So, it turns out my two friends are not geniuses…but I am. But good on them for listening. That’s something.

I wish I could tell you about my big win. Nope. I lost two buy-ins. The first time, my AA was all-in against Pauly’s 88 preflop. He hit his 8 and I was out. (Your $1 for the bad beat story is in the mail). The second time, my low pair was all-in against Pauly’s flush draw. I was trying to push him out of the hand, but alas, my reputation precedes me and he made the call and took a chance to knock me out. Pauly ended up not even cashing, so all that donking by me amounted to nothing.

What I did win, however, was an evening of poker with friends who are willing to take your money ruthlessly and then discuss openly how they ruthlessly took your money once the hand is over. Its a smart crowd, so hearing insight from the other players is always invaluable. I play a somewhat risky game, particularly in tournaments, so I shrugged off my losses and thanked them for a fun evening. I was home in time to be merely exhausted the next day, instead of utterly exhausted. I look forward to their next game, which should be monthly.

More recently, I had an opportunity to go to a casino in PA for poker, but…passed. I was in PA for work. It was very intense, but I finished by 5pm. The drive home was 3 hours, and I contemplated staying in PA overnight. I decided against it. Despite my exhaustion from having kids and the temptation of a bed that did not feature any feet to kick me in the ribs or a bio-alarm-clock perpetually set at Please-Jesus-It’s-Too-Early-Go-Back-to-Sleep(!) o’clock, I missed my family. I considered stopping for a few hours, but it would not be enough to really enjoy myself.

A younger me would have never passed up the opportunity to play, but kids and the lack of poker has definitely factored in to my diminished desire. I still want to play, but I realize the conditions have to be right, or I’m going to play terribly due to distractions, exhaustion and ring rust (which I now acknowledge to be a real, but surmountable, obstacle in poker).

Finally, I faced an interesting temptation recently. A certain poker site began advertising on Facebook. I was tempted to play, but I’m still very hesitant after the UIGEA fallout from 2011. A friend has tried it out at very low stakes, but has not withdrawn money. I’m not just interested in playing poker; I’m interested in winning money by playing poker. If I’m not confident I can withdraw, what’s the point of playing? Until I’m ready to take that added risk, I will stick with live casino action. Meanwhile, people over in the UK can comfortably play games like the Thunderstruck 2 slot at the popular online casino InstaCasino, while I twiddle my thumbs.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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