Over the past four years or so I transitioned from a life of part-time micro-stakes online grinding, to virtually no poker at all, to live poker in nearby home games with the occasional casino trips. The transition to live games happened in large part because of Black Friday and the demise of online poker options - something I'll write more about at a later date - but the actual spark that lit the fire of poker obsession in me again was really quite random. As I look back through old posts and see scattered anecdotes of how work and romantic relationships were cutting into my poker time, I realize now that I very well could have gone on in life and completely forgot about the game that I once couldn't sleep without dreaming about. Thank goodness for a trip I'll never forget, mostly for other reasons, for getting me back into the old swing of things.
It was early August in 2011. Lord knows what I had been doing with my summer vacation, though I was definitely not achieving the level of productivity that my lady friend at the time was, as she had just finished law school and was studying madly for the bar exam. We had decided to celebrate her assumed passing of the monster test (months later we found out she did indeed pass it) with a trip to Aruba. Unbeknownst to her, I had other special plans in mind that involved expensive diamonds, a moonlit walk on the beach, and her not making the rest of our vacation incredibly awkward by saying "yes." Of course I did my best to play it cool and not give away any hints. Fortunate for me, it seemed the bar exam experience had left her mind in a state of numbness and made her completely incapable of picking up on any behavior that would otherwise be relatively suspicious. At the same time I have to admit, I'm pretty damn good at keeping a secret.
As we had packed our bags for the flight I happened to throw in a deck of cards for potential entertainment. On the plane my wife-to-be was going down a list of things to do at our resort (I entrusted her with all the planning and was too busy worrying about my little scheme to think about other things to do), and she mentioned that there was a nearby casino. "Interesting," I thought out loud, "I wonder if they have poker there." The little lady's curiosity was peaked as well. She knew of my earlier life grinding and had always welcomed the occasional poker tangent with attentive and somewhat intrigued eyes and ears. "That could be fun," she replied, "you'll have to teach me how to play." And that's when my pants burst at the seems with overwhelming joy and we were forced to make an emergency landing.
Kidding aside, we made solid use of that handy deck of cards on the remainder of the flight, going through all the basics, simulating 6-handed play, and even getting a little into pot odds. It was probably a little bit much to spoon her right off the bat, but nonetheless her interest in the game was sustained, and what's more, I came to realize that mine was making a full-blown comeback. My heart was racing just thinking about big check-raise bluffs, flopping the nuts, and trapping fools into stacking off. Safe to say that the resort casino had become one of the top priorities on our to-do list, right after eating, drinking, and a possible bowel movement, but only if absolutely necessary.
To make a long story a bit shorter, we were disappointed by the lack of poker at the nearby casino, but continued to play on our own by the pool, in the hotel, and on the trip back. The rest of the vacation was awesome. We chilled with flamingos, snorkeled with exotic fish, took in the local flavors, and ultimately got engaged on the last night in town. In the days that followed I remembered what a recently engaged guy friend of ours had said on the topic of engagements. "It's not fair that the girl gets a fancy ring and the guy get's nothing for engagements. The guy should get something cool as well, just something manly though... like a sword to wear around. Then all his friends could be like 'whoa awesome engagement sword man, congratulations!'"
I agreed with this assessment, though I'm not that into swords and am fairly certain that the open carry laws prohibit such showmanship. Nonetheless feeling entitled to a small treat for myself, and still coming off my recent poker revival, I decided to splurge a little bit on a new set of poker chips. This in turn led me into the world of poker chip enthusiasts, including a handful of home game hosts in my area, which in turn led me to appreciate all of the finer things in the alternate universe of live poker.
To be continued in my next post - the poker chip addiction and transitioning to live poker. Best of luck for now,