Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and practices in his home state of Pennsylvania. He has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Lock Haven University. You can arrange for interviews, speaking engagements, or ask your question to "the Poker Counselor" at email@example.com.
John, In an article of yours you suggested trying to involve your wife or girlfriend in your poker game if they don't approve. Have them watch you, have them learn the game, etc. Well, it didn't work for me. She hates poker and she hates that I play as much as I do, even though I tried to involve her. Now what? - Justin D. from Ft. Worth
Well, you gave it a valiant effort, Justin. Now it is time to get the issue resolved in a timely fashion. It is pretty darn cliché to say that relationships need "compromise." Well, this cliché is 100% true, so I have to use it. You have to understand that your wife/girlfriend is somewhat jealous of your attraction and infatuation with poker. Perhaps she should be, as I'd bet that you spend a significant amount of time and energy thinking about poker, discussing it with your buddies, reading about it, and playing it. Your task is to balance your poker "needs" with your relational needs. In essence, you must find a compromise with your spouse for poker and your love life.
Discuss poker honestly so that she can begin to comprehend that it is important to you, not some simple hobby. Next, work on a specific, measurable plan that outlines poker's role in your life and your relationship. Some poker players have taken it so far as to set specific times and time limits on their poker interests. This may be a good idea for you at this point. If you have more defined timelines and criteria, she may be able to better accept it. Likewise, she may be able to use the time that you're investing in poker to pursue her interests. Remember the ultimate goal: your girlfriend/wife must feel that you can honestly fulfill her needs AND your poker needs. She should not feel that it is her versus poker.
I have read that poker is the rage on college campuses. My son plays pretty regularly now. Next year he starts as a freshman at college. Should I be concerned? - Kerry Cleland
I always tell parents the following: if you are asking SHOULD I be concerned, you should indeed probably be concerned! You know your child better than anyone else, so your hunches have some validity. In this case, I have to assume that your concern is that he will not be responsible enough to handle the time and finances involved with poker (and thus threatening his possible success in school). It will be impossible for you to control him from afar, so you must "plant a seed" in advance and hope that he succeeds.
As your son takes the next step of his life into adulthood, take some time to discuss the level of maturity and responsibility involved in college. Tell him of your concerns about poker, and how it could negatively affect his studies if not handled correctly. As you know, there are always plenty of distractions at a college campus besides poker, so you may want to talk about those as well! Be sure that he is invested in his education and understands its importance. I always suggest that the student himself/herself have a financial stake in college by helping to pay tuition and other costs. It is very much possible to enjoy some quality poker time and still succeed in college. Poker may actually help to teach him some things that may boost his studies, such as patience, self-control, and time management. Mostly, keep the lines of communication open as he is away at college. Through phone calls and emails, stay in touch. With that, be sure to continue to discuss his poker play. Don't pretend that you are not concerned if you actually are. Your son will understand your perspective and appreciate the honesty.
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Ed Note: We feel some of the softest cash action anywhere can be found at London Poker Club.