Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Circuit

I listen to a lot of music.  I love music.  For some reason I don't care for poetry unless it's put to music.  Then I love it.  Go figure.

My taste in music is pretty eclectic.  Some of the best concerts I've attended have been The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, Three Dog Night, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The other day I heard an old classic:  "Amarillo By Morning" by George Strait.  There are quite a few songs out there about riding the rodeo circuit and that got me to thinking.  I've never followed the rodeo circuit but it sounds a lot like following the poker circuit.

Both involve chasing that ever elusive big score.  The odds are against you but you keep chasing the big gold belt buckle or, in the case of poker, the bracelet.  In both rodeos and poker tournaments we seem to be driven by the same adrenaline rush.  As Chris Ledoux says in "Hooked on an 8 Second Ride", "Hooked on a feeling, addicted to a natural high".  It's more than the thrill of victory--it's the chase.  Knowing you're almost surely behind with your one pair, an inside straight draw, and a back door flush draw but calling anyway to chase the dream.  Or believing your over pair is good and betting it while dreading that third club hitting the board.      

For the bronco rider or the bull rider it's surviving for that terrifying yet magical eight seconds.  For us it's surviving the grind of a fourteen hour session hoping to bag chips at the end of the ordeal.  And you're still not guaranteed to even make the money, much less take down the jewelry.  While the physical strain is of a different sort the strain is there nonetheless.  Anyone who hasn't done it needs to try sitting at that table and concentrating on everything that happens for fourteen hours.

Both sports (and yes poker IS a sport) involve living out of hotels, consuming a lot of fast food, traveling all over the country, being away from your family, and straining your marriage.  They're both hard on your family life and whatever social life you might have.  And they're both particularly tough on someone trying to hold down a regular job in their spare time.

In "Rodeo" Garth Brooks says "It's the white in the knuckles, the gold in the buckle.  He'll win the next go round".  You've just moved all in near the bubble with two pairs and the guy at the other end of the table is considering calling.  Does he have a set?  A bigger two pair?  An over pair only?  Is he going to call?  Are you about to double up and be set well for the push to the final table or are you about to be sent to the rail?  Your knuckles may be white and there may be a lump in your throat but you'd better not let it show.  Why did you risk your tournament life on two pairs?  Fourteen or fifteen hours of intense concentration down the drain?  Are you nuts?  You certainly don't have "the nuts".  All you have is three pairs:  two jacks, two tens, and a big brass pair.  Why do we do it?  To "win the next go round".

George keeps crooning "Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone".  Well, my next stop on the circuit is the Million Dollar Heater in Biloxi to start 2014 so I guess it's "Biloxi by morning, back from my day job".

See you there.  Let's chase that proverbial brass ring.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grocery Money

I've always had a policy of never playing poker with grocery money.  In reality this means I have never and will never play poker with money that is needed for other things.  In other words I only play poker with money I can afford to lose.  Money that I can't afford to lose is what I call "grocery money".  While this may seem like a no-brainer for most of you it always amazes me how many people are gambling with money they can't afford to lose.

I ran into a guy one night that had "got broke" at the casino that very night.  The money he had lost had been set aside to pay the car note and now he didn't know what he was going to do.  His wife wasn't speaking to him and indications were that his marriage was on the rocks as a result of his ill advised adventures.

I had a good friend whose long standing marriage had withstood infidelity including an illegitimate child  but was destroyed by her gambling (not poker) addiction.

I have another friend who plays a lot of tournament poker and some cash games.  He tells me he budgets $5000 per month to play poker and $5000 for each tournament series he attends.  The difference here is that he can afford to lose $5000 each month and never even begin to touch grocery money.  He has a thriving business that can easily support his hobby.

My wife reads from time to time about some young guy that has just won a lot of money playing poker and sometimes wonders aloud why I haven't hit it big.  The reason is simple.  I don't play in big tournaments because my poker bankroll won't support the entry fees and I refuse to use grocery money to enter a tournament.  It's not that I don't consider myself a good gamble.  (At this writing I have won four of the last thirteen tournaments I've entered.  See my blog "To Chop Or Not To Chop" to fully understand what I mean when I say "won" a tournament.)  I just simply WILL NOT gamble with money I can't afford to lose.

You can't win the big tournament with the big payout if you don't enter the big tournament with the big entry fee.  Conversely, I will never go broke playing poker if I don't risk "grocery money".

There is another side to this philosophy.  The other day I stopped at a store to pick up a few groceries and the only money I had on me was my poker bankroll.  I used the credit card to buy the groceries.  You see, I won't play poker with grocery money and, conversely, won't buy groceries with poker money.  My poker money will readily revert to grocery money if and only if we run out of grocery money.

I realize that most of the people that may read this blog already have the same or a similar philosophy about not risking too much on poker but maybe someone will read this and, as a result, manage their money a little better and avoid "going broke" at the casino.

Never play poker with grocery money.

Until later.