5/15/2010

Shuffle Up and Deal

A pair of aces is arguably the best hand to be...Image via Wikipedia
I started really getting into poker and specifically the Texas hold'em variety of the card game back in 2004. I read some books on how to play and improve my game. I hosted a few games at my house, but quickly learned none of my friends knew how to play. I played a couple cash games in casinos in Reno and Atlantic City. I learned very quickly that cash games are very different from tournament style. I didn't play online because I liked the action of a live game and being able to study my opponents. The World Series of Poker tour was all over the TV, but if I wasn't playing I wasn't watching. I guess I could have learned something by watching the pros, but that didn't dawn on me at the time. I joined a poker club that met Sunday nights at a local bar. A poker club is for those who live where gambling is illegal, which is pretty much everywhere in this country. I had fun in the beginning, but being a stickler for the etiquette of the game, I learned very fast that people play very differently when it's free compared to when money is on the line. Playing in a smoky bar with drunk idiots or with people who didn't know how to play or both wore me down pretty fast. What really did it for me was the fight where the word "divorce" was first uttered by my first wife started at a poker club game because some crusty old douchebag was hitting on her. Seriously-no joke. You play the hand you are dealt (pun intended).

I moved on with my life without poker. I still loved poker, I just didn't go out seeking to play. The passion died. Fast forward a few years. I got remarried and started a family. We joined a great Episcopal church. The Young Family Ministries dad's group has a monthly poker game that I got invited to. I won my first two games. That's all it took to get the fire burning again. I was back baby. I was so motivated that I got my own monthly poker game together with a new group of friends who love to play poker as much as I do. Two games a month didn't satiate my hunger. Like a sign from the heavens, I turned on the boob tube one night and what was on? You guessed it-poker. This time i watched intently, hoping to learn a trick or two from the pros. What I did learn is that as skilled as these poker pros are, you still need lots of luck. With lots of playing, studying and luck, I can do what they do. So I took the plunge and started playing online for free. Online poker is a very different beast which is good because it adds another facet to my game.

Last week I played in my first high stakes ($100 buy-in) game. It was a charity game dubbed "Hold'em for the Cure". Half the buy-in was a donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the other half went to the prize pool. I was excited. So excited in fact that I was the first one knocked out. On about my fifth or sixth hand I went all in with a full house deuces full of aces. It's hard to beat a boat. But I was beat by a full house sevens full of aces.  He sank my battleship! I then played the role of sore loser as there was no re-buy and you still had to be in the game to purchase the add-on. I stayed for the pizza dinner. After eating and throwing a hissy fit, I quietly left.

So here I am playing and losing lots of poker. I have dreams of becoming a professional poker player. It's my only hobby that if I'm good enough could pay the bills. Like the saying goes "you can't truly know success without failure." Well, I've failed a lot. Hopefully thats a catalyst for my success. Shuffle up and deal.
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