Thursday, January 10, 2008

Am I better because of poker? Part 4: Marriage

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:

- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 4: Marriage

Since Banky and I had a fight this morning, I thought what better time to write about our marriage. If only I was kidding. But seriously, who doesn’t want to plan a Vegas trip as he’s about to head into the shower? Seize the moment, I say!

This morning’s argument is a prime example of how different our temperaments are. Banky is a planner – I’m a spur of the moment kind of person. When Banky needed a new car, he did weeks and weeks of research. I bought the one I thought looked cool and felt good during a test drive. I trust my instincts, while Banky trusts the facts. It’s amazing that we ever agree on anything (when the reality is, we actually agree on almost everything).

But back to the task at hand – how has poker affected our relationship?

Banky and I got together long before I had ever felt the weight of a poker chip in my hand. He was a friend of a friend, and in our very early 20s, we attended many of the same parties. After about a year of peripheral friendship, we connected (over a game of trivial pursuit, no less.)

One awkward first date later, we were joined at the hip. That was 10 years ago.

We’ve grown so much since those early days. We’ve been laid-off, quit, hired and fired. We’ve had surgeries, car accidents, witnessed the joy of a new life beginning, and the sorrow of too many lives ending. We became first-time home owners together, got married, and saw our friends marry (and some divorce). But through it all, we’ve laughed. There are very few people who can make me laugh as hard as Banky can.

Our relationship with poker started well into our relationship with each other. We’d always been game players – we spent many a late night playing Euchre with friends. But it wasn’t until poker that we became fully immersed in a game.

It started with watching poker on TV, and then watching Rounders, then nervously playing at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Soon after followed online poker – and that’s when the poker affair got serious. We played frequently. Almost exclusively side-by-side. He’d play while I watched, or I’d play while he watched. It was fun and exciting as we learned the game together.

We found a local home game that we played weekly, and within 6 months, poker was an every day conversation.

Over the past few years, we’ve had so many shared experiences through poker. It always amazes me when we go to home games filled with men who are there to escape their wives. There’s one player we play with frequently who has to get ‘permission’ to play (no joke!). Another player’s wife constantly complains about the money he’s spending. But most of the wives I’ve encountered are ambivalent of poker, and somewhat disdainful of me for playing ‘with the boys’. Many of these players spend as much time playing poker as I do – and that’s time away from their partners. But I can’t imagine investing myself so fully in something that I couldn’t share with my partner. How can someone understand the joy of a win, or the agony of a bubble finish, unless they’ve experienced it themselves?

In addition to the shared experiences, Banky and I have also benefitted from an accelerated poker education, because we’ve been both student and teacher to each other.

Many times after a poker game, we’ve gone over hands or situations and talked about why we did what we did. We’ve celebrated together, and commiserated together. Ultimately educating each other in the process. We've read poker books one after another (and sometimes simultaneously) and discussed the concepts. Sometimes agreeing with the author, and sometimes not. We always have each other to bounce ideas off of. Without Banky, I'd still have trouble understanding pot odds, or why calling a re-re-raise with pocket Jacks might not be the best idea.

So far, it all sounds rosy – but ever silver lining has a dark cloud...

It’s not always easy when your best friend and partner is sitting across the table from you; especially when you go on tilt and make an incredibly stupid mistake. Many times I wished my husband was safely at home so I could entertain him with the story of how I got sucked out on the river to lose – as opposed to him knowing I called off three quarters of my stack with middle pair. Knowing that he knows what a donk you just were can be embarrasing.

It can be extremely frustrating to still be steaming from your bad exit from a game, and to have your partner say “why did you do that?”. There have been many post tournament temper flares (although luckily, they flame our pretty quickly - especially with the aid of a cold beer and a cuddle on the couch).

It can also be boring sitting around after you’ve chumped out, waiting for your loved one to (hopefully) cash, so that your 3 hours of waiting are worth it.

There have been trying times when one of us or the other is on a losing streak. Banky and I handle variance in very different ways – I get non-chalant (and sometimes reckless with my online bankroll), while he gets pessimistic and angry. It’s difficult - wanting to help, but not being able to find the right words to bring someone out of a dark space.

Ultimately though, there have been so many more light, wonderful moments than dark ones.

As I see couples who have been together for a long time begin to drift apart, I’m thankful that Banky and I have a shared hobby that we are both so enthusiastic about.

For me, the answer in this category is clear: poker has definitely been good for my marriage, and my marriage has definitely been good for my poker!


RaisingCayne said...

Well, may you two find more endeavors that are as beneficial to your marriage, and to each other as your poker has been!

Enjoyed the post Tart.

Wishing all the best,

BamBam said...

Please re-read your post substituting "Bam-Bam" for "Banky" and "Pebbles" for "I" or "me."

You now know everything you need to about us.

Weird !

lol - You two are such cute little TuckFards.