What keeps me occupied

I am the kind of person where I need something to think about, learn about, obsess over after the workday. From late 2006 until early 2009 it was World of Warcraft. From early 2009 until the end of last year, it was web development. Then, when my personal life imploded, I kind of went into this period of distraction where I didn’t really want anything that was too hard to think about, so I played Xbox games and Final Fantasy XI, never really delving into the theorycraft of FFXI (such as it is) or pursuing the endgame like I did in WoW.

So now that I find myself back in Sydney, no MMO now or in the future likely to grab my serious interest, I’ve surprisingly gone back to what filled a lot of my free time before I started playing WoW: poker.

I was an OK poker player back then… I think I came in about 5th out of a buhjillion people in a Poker Stars limit tournament and won about $225. I used to play in the weekly tournaments at Canberra Casino and while I never won one, I came in 3rd the first time I played and nabbed another 3rd and maybe one 2nd place over the months. I even went to Melbourne for major tournaments a time or two, but never won more than a couple of hundred in cash games or finished any higher than 70th or so in a tournament (thus being out of the money).

Returning to poker now, I’ve found a couple of things have changed.

One, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care if I make a wrong move, get called on a bluff or decide to gamble on a hand and lose. I used to be concerned that other people would think I’m an idiot … now, pfffft.

Two, I’ve realised I’m more of an instinctual player. I play off people’s reactions. I’m not a particularly deep thinker in-game. I’ll call an all-in with AQs in the blink of an eye if I think they’ve got jack all. I seem to process information faster than I used to, but it’s not quantitative stuff like pot odds. It’s whether I think my opponent is full of shit or legit.

So this past weekend, having finished out of the money in 7th at the monthly Ladies Tournament at Star City the week before, I coughed up $200 to enter the Monday tournament since here in Australia we got Easter Monday off. I’d won $350 in a cash game on Friday night and used part of that as my buy-in, so it was basically a freeroll. And when I walked away from the tables after nine hours of playing the tournament, I got a 3rd place finish and $3,505.

Far out. I have never won that much money playing poker in my life.

I’d like to think I got that far because I’m a better player than I used to be … that I’ve lost some of the inhibitions that held me back. But while I did manage to make a move or two here and there (maybe even three or four), I have to admit that I got hit in the face by the deck. I mean, when you call an all-in with KQo and your opponent turns over AQo and the flop comes (no lie) KKK, well, that ain’t skill bruddah.

I love live poker so much more than I do online. I get bored playing online poker and more times than not I just get the shits and do things I shouldn’t. But live poker … there are people to watch and lattes to drink and tablemates to chat to (occasionally) and cards to hold.

It gets me outside of myself while still letting me stay inside my head, if that makes sense. And it’s exactly what I need right now.

So poker is my game of choice at the moment. It’s what keeps me up at night, so to speak. While I’m not quitting my day job, I’m looking forward to playing poker – both tournament and cash games – on a regular basis. I just wish they still played Limit poker now and again…

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