18/12/2007

Teaching My Missus to Play Poker

Barry Carter

Poker has always had a role in my relationship with my girlfriend. No, I didn’t win her in a cash game, but she met me just as poker was becoming my main source of income. So she knew that poker was to be a part of her life, just as her job is a major part of mine... whatever it is, something to do with computers I think. She was very enthusiastic at first; even suggesting we watched episodes of my WPT box set from time to time which she told me she enjoyed.

But alas, as the relationship developed, I found out that this enthusiasm was just a way of keeping me interested, just like a whole bunch of other things that she was happy to do when we first met that she looks at me in pure disgust for even suggesting these days. I sometimes ponder what it would be like to have a missus that was a poker player, but all in all I think I’m much better off having someone who is completely removed from the game, so that I can be too when I’m with her.

I don’t bore the old girl to tears by making her come along to the tournaments I play in (The last time I did, Barry Neville spent several hours making ‘I’ve seen your bird working at the massage parlour’ jokes) but recently had an Xmas party with some poker chums where it was bring your partner, with a little game after the meal.

Bless her, she barely played a hand all night and bust on the first hand she got aggressive with, but I could tell she loved it. The next day she gave me nervous a look which said ‘I want to ask you something’ – perhaps she was going to suggest something to ‘spice’ things up a bit?

“Will you show me how to play poker?” she asked, which I guess was almost as good.

The one thing she has learnt from me without ever having to play herself is good hand selection. She knows that King-Jack is no monster and a weak ace will get you into trouble. So my focus was to show her a thing or two about betting and position. And I let her play a few $3 sit and goes on one of my accounts (Christ, will that get me into trouble? The latest online multi account cheating scandal).

Aggression was not her strong point to begin with, I even saw her fold aces preflop because “you always say you lose with them”. I found myself running to the PC in slow motion shouting ‘nooooooooooo’ as she clicked the fold button. A couple of days later and she was doing ok, I got a lump in my throat when she fired out a successful continuation bet when she missed the flop with a big ace, she certainly has potential.

I’ve always been very good at hiding my emotions; my girlfriend wears her heart on her sleeve. We were both sat, like nerds, in the living room with our laptops out. She was playing in a PartyPoker freeroll, I was playing $3/6 PLO on Victor Chandler. She was losing, and letting me know about it, I was losing and keeping it to myself.

She was screaming, growling and hurling abuse at the screen – in a freeroll. “I’m never playing this stupid game again!”. This was my soundtrack as I was donking off about $1000 at the PLO tables. It’s a very surreal feeling, comforting someone who lost a freeroll when you yourself have just lost more than she nearly earns in a fortnight. I decided not to mention my little loss, just in case she said something stupid like ‘we are both really unlucky’ which would prompt me to do something which would ruin Christmas.

She is still grafting away at the free rolls, and next week she is having a poker night with her own friends (which I’m not allowed to play in). I’d love to see her actually win a bit of money from it, but I have now decided against grooming her into an EPT superstar. Just in case she folded aces again preflop on TV.