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Finding Level Ground

Finding Level Ground

Last night I read a post by GaryC, the Low Limit Grinder, that hit home and prompted this post. I actually left an uber comment on his post, but Blogger decided to go down for maintenance and my long winded comment was for not. Bastardos!

His post was basically about taking back his family time that had been squeezed dry by grinding it at the online tables. In essence, coming straight home from work and logging on to play till the wee hours of the night was taking its toll. Luckily, G has taken the time to look at the situation and reflect. A pretty funny direct quote from the his post..."Damn, self-examination is a bitch!"

A portion of the post brings up yours truly, as noted below:

TripJax does a good job of balancing his "family time" and "poker time." I know
this because I see him play two or three nights a week and see that he isn't
on-line 4 or 5 nights a week. I see this because I'm always on-line.
I've also heard him say "must spend family time." This is where I need to
get, ASAP.

Thanks for the kind words G. I appreciate it. After I read his post it made me think about my situation and I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the subject, so here it goes.

When I first started playing poker with my buddies, it was pretty sporadic. First of all, we didn't really know what the hell we were doing. What's a big and small blind? Why is the dealer called a button? If I go all-in with $30 in chips and you call me with $100 in chips, will win your $100 if I win the hand? O.K. so once we cleared up all the logistics, we were starting to have some fun. But I could tell something wasn't right. Whenever we were done playing, I was wondering when we would play again. I was ready to learn more and more about the game. I had not felt like a sponge - looking to learn something new and fun - in quite a long time. But here it was....a hobby...a game...something I could enjoy. I was hooked.

Not long after I had started playing with my close friends, I found out there were even more folks out there looking for a game. One of my work buddies started a tournament in his garage - now dubbed Garage Mahal. As interest in the game began to fade for my close friends, my interest continued to rise. I wanted to play more, learn more, and talk about it more. As the games at Garage Mahal and other places began to grow, I grew with them. My game was getting better - the sponge was filling with information. I was hooked.

In the gradual growth of my game, the online sites snuck their heads around the corner to introduce themselves. Little pop-up ads here and there or a guy at a local game talking about his big win online. It was enticing - like most gambling can be - to say the least. Though I've been a net winner both live and online, I quickly learned how online poker can be a double edged sword (or is that double bladed sword Alx?). On the one hand, you can play poker without being away from home or your family. On the other hand, are you really spending time with your family when you're hold up in a dark room staring at a screen full of people you know nothing about. I quickly learned, being home does not necessarily qualify as quality time.

So where am I going with this you ask? Well, beginning in 2005, I've tried to refocus my poker energy in a more positive fashion. Though I probably would enjoy it, I don't play every day. I try to fit a few games in during the week - maybe 2 or 3 times a week at night - and then a couple of games during the weekend when things are slow. Add to that the occasional local home game with friends, maybe once every couple of weeks, and that's a pretty full poker slate. As a hobby, that schedule has proven to be something that works with my family. And one of the best things I ever done was buy a laptop. It is great to be on the computer in the living room with the family, and not feel like I'm spending too much time away from them.

In addition, I've tried to not talk as much about poker around my friends who don't play very much. Sure I have the occasional comment about a game or the blog, but I try not to push it. Also, I try not to read my poker books during family time. Usually, if I'm reading them, it's during lunch at work or just before going to bed. I could, however, stand to watch a little less poker on T.V. That will be tough with all the new coverage on ESPN. Maybe I'll just resolve to not watch the same ones over and over. Watch it and be done with it!

I have no plans of giving up poker, but I know that even what I think is a healthy diet of the game can sometimes be too much. I need to work on not constantly having that urge to "sneak a quick game in", or "playing just one more" before doing the more important things. I love my wife and kids and they are my priority. I just have to remind myself sometimes that there are more important things in life than a game. That said, poker is my favorite hobby. It makes me happy. I enjoy the rush it gives me and the thrill of the moment. Every day I continue to find level ground to make my hobby fit better and better with my life. I'm getting there and enjoying it every bit of the way.

And as for GaryC, I know he is an incredible guy with an even more incredible family and I'm glad to see him heading in the right direction. Finding level ground - balance - is where it's at.

Before I go I must add one more thing. When I first decided to start my own blog nearly a year ago I had no idea what I was getting into. I felt like this was the first step towards becoming a geek. Not a direction I wanted to go. I had a picture in my head of a bunch of losers - Smeagols if you will (see pic) - sitting in their dark small rooms playing poker 20 hours a day only stopping to eat, shit and piss as needed. I didn't figure many of the bloggers to be married or in many serious relationships of worth. And I never considered any women would be blogging about poker. How naive, right?! Man was I so very wrong. What I've learned in this past year is most people are down to earth folks, many with families of their own. As an example, the great group of guys I was able to spend online time with during the SNG Challenge are a lot like me. They have jobs, wives (or fiance's), kids (for some) and just play poker for the fun of the game (and the money it can bring). In other words, they're normal folks like you and me. It was an incredible relief to find this out. And as for the female bloggers, they are incredible writers, and even better poker players. I've been nothing but impressed with every one of their blogs (too many to link, but they're linked to the left for sure).

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed.

posted by TripJax @ 4:01 PM,

5 Comments:

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

 
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