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Family, Poker, and Games

If there's one thing that poker's taught me, it's that I don't handle adversity well. Any bump in the road, any sort of unforeseen shenanigans, cause my poker game and my desire to play poker to head south quickly. I also tilt quite hard, though not in the "yell at your monitor" and "gamble your bankroll away" sense. Tilt introduces doubt.

When I begin to doubt my ability to play winning poker, I step back from the game to look at the big picture. Will I be able to make enough money playing poker to make it worthwhile? Will online poker be profitable in one year? How about five years? Ten years? When I think about the amount of time and effort that I need to put into poker to be a winning player, I need to know whether my efforts will be rewarded.

Poker has been profitable over the past few years. I've made enough money to buy myself as many video games, consoles, big screen TVs, and other toys without impacting my family's well-being. The irony is that I can only enjoy such indulgences when I'm in one of my semi-annual un-poker moods. Maybe I should learn to simply embrace and enjoy these breaks from the game?

I'm not saying that I'm going on hiatus. Far from it. I've still got some poker to play this month. I've got a bonus to clear and some new challenges to set for myself. But it's been a very busy week for me and it's been nice to focus on stuff other than poker. My oldest son's birthday was this past Tuesday: he turned two years old! On his birthday, I took the day off to spend some time with him and the rest of my family. We played games, had some fast food, and had a great time all around! And you know what? I wasn't thinking about poker at all.

When I'm playing poker and focusing on improving my game, poker finds its way into my thoughts all the time. If I'd been really into poker this week, much of my day with my son would have been spent thinking about the game. Wouldn't this have cheapened the whole day? When I'm spending time with my son, I need to be thinking about him and not about the boards where it's profitable for me to turn my marginal hand into a bluff on the river.

And speaking of my son, you should have seen how happy he was to play his first video game the other day. I sat him down in my lap, I placed my Dolby Digital headphones on his ears (big headphones + little kid head = funny), and handed over my Xbox 360 controller. He'd been trying to get his hands on my 360 controller for years so you can imagine the awe with which he regarded the scenario.

I then got my son's attention on the LCD monitor in front of him. I showed him that certain actions on the controller correlated directly with the actions taken on screen by Braid's little avatar. And once my son discovered the jump button, he started laughing! He kept laughing for the next five minutes as he jumped around the screen.

Poker will never make my son laugh. It's a game that he won't play for another sixteen years. In fact, he may never play the game at all. I'd be happy with that. I don't know if obsessing over video games is better than a full-blow poker obsession; it certainly feels that way.

What am I saying? Don't know. This is just one of those posts where I reveal a little more of my true nature to my readers. It's not something I do too often. And I rarely do it when I'm playing a lot of poker and winning. I don't think that knowing who I am, my thoughts on family and life, or my true nature adds anything of value to this site.

But I do love my kids. And my wife. And my friends. And video games.

What about poker? Not so much. But we definitely have some fun when we're on good terms with each other.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
Hero (UTG+1): $123.70
CO: $65.50
Button: $67.60
Villain (SB): $99.40
BB: $98.50

(I've got a pretty good table image at this point. Villain is pretty tight and straight-forward.)

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is UTG with A♣ A♥
Hero raises to $4, 2 folds, Villain raises to $12, BB folds, Hero raises to $26, Villain calls.

(Villain's 3-bet percentage is quite small. I haven't been playing too loose so I can narrow the Villain's range down to premium hands only. When Villain fails to 4-bet me, I eliminate AA and KK from his range. I'm putting Villain on AK, QQ, or JJ.)

Flop: 2♥ 8♥ 6♣ ($53, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $20, Villain calls.

(I don't need to bet big here. Villain will fold AK to any sized bet and likely call with overpairs. But I need to bet since I'd also bet here with an unimproved AK/AQ.)

Turn: 6♦ ($93, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $20, Villain raises all-in $53.4, Hero calls.

(I only need to bet enough to get the pot big enough for a river shove. I know what the Villain has and it's only a matter of time before he makes his move. Like clockwork, he check-raises all-in on the turn. I love it when hands play themselves!)

River: 8♦ ($199.8, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $199.8)

Final pot: $199.8
Villain showed Qc Qs
Hero showed Ac Ah

(Villain went on tilt after this hand and I stacked him a second time with a flopped set. Poker can be so easy at times.)

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