The night began with an invite to play poker at the home of my friend, Justin. Upon arriving around 6:45 this evening, we chatted and waited for a few other people to arrive. In time, the room filled to around seven people, and we began to make plans to play some hands of poker. A few of the visitors were not interested in playing, so we narrowed the crowd down to four players and headed to the poker table in Justin's garage. I sat down on the near side of the table and quickly ran through what memories I had of the poker rules I acquired years earlier. I handed over the obligatory $20 buy in as chips were cast across the table. Once I received my share of the chips, I gave a quick count to confirm my holdings and stacked the chips in a manner that seemed most appropriate. I was fully aware my efforts to do so revealed my inexperience, but I was committed to playing the game regardless of my more apparent weaknesses. As such, I centered myself and prepared for what was likely to be an undesirable gambling experience.
Just as I found an appropriate balance in my stacks of chips the cards started flying. Before I could recognize what was occurring, we were in the middle of our first hand. As I tried to gain my bearings on the game before me, chips were striking the table as bets were being made. Turns moved quickly, and caught me off guard as I was still trying to make decisions on my next move. I immediately felt as though I was in over my head, but I remained focused on trying to make the most of the experience.
|Taken by Justin's four year old son: The poker crew|
Cash in hand, I ultimately bought in for a second set of chips. I reassessed my approach as my holdings were doled out to me by another of the players, Colin. Hopeful I would redeem myself, I began to focus less intently on the cards I held and more on the signals and mannerisms of my opponents. Doing so proved beneficial in preventing me from losing any substantial amount of money on any given hand we played, but I eventually found myself with a dwindling stack of chips that had been slowly eroded away by my opposition. As my money ran out, I became less and less interested in the game before me, and I found myself looking for an outlet to end my gambling misery. As I expected, I was at last stripped of my last chip from my second buy in, which led to my exit from the game and my indefinite exit from playing poker for real money.
Tonight's blog post is brief and somewhat undescriptive. Perhaps it is a result of my losing $40 in a matter of three hours, or perhaps it is because the idea of gambling has always made me uncomfortable. Regardless, I took one important lesson away from tonight's experience: I will never gamble my money away on a poker game ever again. While I believe I may be able to become a more effective poker player with time and practice, my first experience playing poker for real money only fortified my perspectives on gambling. Mainly, the lessons gained about the apparent physical and monetary sacrifices necessary to make playing poker a profitable endeavor showed me gambling is no more than a loser's game.
Like my effort in playing poker tonight, my "I have never..." event for today proved a complete bust. As a result, I'm doubtful gambling of any sort will appear again in my "I have never..." events over the next 11 months. To me, it would be foolish to throw good money after bad when there are so many other things as yet undone that would prove a better use of my time and money. I learned a lot from today's experience, but unlike other days in the "I have never..." journey, I have no intention of giving today's "I have never..." event another try. This one simply wasn't for me. Unfortunately, $40 was a lot to spend to learn that was the case...