My Love Affair With Poker – Part 3 (Why I Continue to Play the Game)

I’ve been sitting down at a poker table for more than twenty-five years, playing an average of four days a week, six to fifteen hours at a time. I’m into my seventh decade, and still as enthralled with the game as I was many years ago. I still enjoy the small elements, the card playing, the chip handling, the social moments, and, of course, the winning. But there are other aspects of the game that have gained great value for me. Poker is my mental aerobics, and the benefitsgo much further than my card playing. I can use what happens to me at a poker session to deal with many other parts of my life. So I continue to study the game, to try my best to absorb the mathematical elements, but also to apply the discipline and the fortitude to take the calculated risks. On my way to becoming a poker player, I’ve had to come to terms with several personal demons that pop up out of my personality and wage war with my card playing skills. I’ve learned to appreciate the highs and thrills of winning, knowing that they are often mitigated by the frustrations, disappointments and aggravations of losing. Stress management, for me, is a huge challenge, and the older I get the harder it is to control. But I’m not giving up. Getting a “bad beat” (losing with the best cards and odds to a player who either makes an erroneous call because he doesn’t understand the game or is willing to gamble without the right odds) can be,at the least,disappointing; but when it happens often, or it determines the difference between a winning and losing session, it can be depressing and exceedingly stressful. Continuing to regulate these highs and lows is what motivates me to get back to the game, time after time, bad beats and all.

So I’m grateful every day that I continue to have the mental capacity as well as the physical energy and spiritual motivation to sit down at a game. John Updike said it best: “Poker’s charm for me…lies in its rapid renewal of opportunity.” There is always the next hand. That’s why l love to play poker.