Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Everything in Moderation — Even Poker

I LIKE TO PLAY poker. Hell, I played about an hour's worth of seven-card stud earlier tonight on Full Tilt Poker. Strictly small ball, came out about $2 lighter. During weeks when I don't feel like staying up late at the real-life game, I might peck out about an hour or two online. Though I am eligible for a sign-up bonus for frequent play, $20 of which I in fact cleared tonight, it has taken me 4 months of sporadic play to qualify for less than 10% of it. The bonus actually expires tomorrow, and even though Full Tilt's bonus is one of the more arduous ones to clear fully, I'd probably need 2 years to get through the whole thing at my faint rate of play.

But that suits me fine. In consulting my big-ass poker spreadsheet to make note of the minor hold'em loss from Saturday, I marveled at the fact that the last time I had been to a casino was my trip to Las Vegas in January. I play so often at home, either here or at Danny's in Maywood, that I haven't ventured forth to storm the shoreline carpet joints in Atlantic City or the sylvan environs of Foxwoods in what seems like forever. With gas prices so high, it feels like you're financially in the hole before you place your first bet.

In my group of regular players, however, I am often stunned by the degree to which they are eager to play. Maybe I'm jaundiced by my perspective. The average age of the gang is almost a decade below mine. They have far more free time than me, especially the guys who are in college and are now looking at an open summer. Few of them commute as long as I do, and some don't have a fulltime job. So they can play repeatedly during the week. I suppose I was like this when I roleplayed during college summers or on weekends in my first few years in the workplace, when more of my high school friends were still in the area, single, and/or willing to let the adventure stretch from Friday night to Sunday afternoon in some cases.

Which brings us to G. G is a tall, heavy guy who works in the securities industry. Like many folks in that field, he smokes heavily, bluffs heartily, and is filthy rich. His nights either end way up or way down. When the guys planned a gambling excursion to AC back in April, this guy emailed everyone at 3:30 in the morning before they left, unable to sleep or to think about anything else but getting down to the felt. (Which, in the sense of losing, he and two other guys did, at baccarat, to the combined tune of $4,000. Enjoy those "free" rooms!)

G emailed the poker lunatics this morning about the weekend poker tournaments at Foxwoods. He was trying to get folks to join him to hit the Sunday tourney, which had a buy-in (with fee) of $300. The most I've ever spent on a tournament was $100, at the Plaza, which is a relatively nonthreatening field of players and in which I've made the money one out of three times. Still, there are guys in our circle who would shell out 3 C-notes to give Foxwoods's tourney a try.

What I haven't mentioned is the date he wanted to go: June 18.

Father's Day.

I don't know if G's father is still on the scene, but I know he has at least one child. Presumably he's optimistic about his chances to make it into the money, which would take a number of hours . . . on top of the 4 to 5 hours of transit. He's really going to duck out on his kid when he should be sitting back and get some time bonding with the child on his special day? And what about the other guys in the game — how many of them did he think would just duck out on their dads (most of whom are still alive, with the average age of our group)?

I decided to assume he had merely forgotten what day it was, and replied to all addressees, in a backhanded way of reminding them, that I had Father's Day plans that day.

Focusing on your poker game is one thing. Becoming myopic because of it, now that's a hand to toss in the muck.

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